Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner to join Chapman as Presidential Fellow

John R. “Jack” Horner, one of the world’s leading experts in paleontology, MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and inspiration for the character of Alan Grant in the “Jurassic Park” movies, will join Chapman University as a Presidential Fellow, beginning in fall 2016.

He retires on June 30, 2016, from a distinguished 33-year tenure as Regents Professor of Paleontology at Montana State University and curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.

Leading paleontologist John R. “Jack” Horner will join Chapman University’s faculty in fall 2016.

Leading paleontologist John R. “Jack” Horner will join Chapman University’s faculty in fall 2016.

“I am delighted to announce that Jack Horner, one of the most creative living scientists, will join us as a Presidential Fellow in the next academic year,” said Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., chancellor and president-designate of Chapman University.

“We are not hiring Jack for our acclaimed film program, nor for a paleontology program – we don’t have one – but rather for his unconventional and extremely successful approach to creativity and learning. It is his ingenuity and his sense of curiosity and wonder that he will bring to Chapman as we continue to re-think the meaning of education and how students learn,” Struppa said.

“I’m coming to Chapman because of its strong commitment to nurturing curiosity, inquisitiveness and creativity in all aspects of academia,” said Horner.  “I very much look forward to helping Dr. Struppa and his staff create an integrative educational environment that accepts all learning styles.”

In October, Horner spoke at Chapman University’s first annual Dyslexia Summit: Strength in Cognitive Diversity, where he recounted his inspirational life story.  As a child with undiagnosed dyslexia, he struggled in school and later dropped in and out of college, attending the University of Montana for seven years.  Although he never completed a formal degree, the University of Montana awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in 1986 due to his astonishing list of achievements in the field of paleontology.

Among other groundbreaking accomplishments, Horner and his teams discovered the first evidence of parental care in dinosaurs, extensive nesting grounds, evidence of gigantic dinosaur herds, and the world’s first dinosaur embryos.  Horner’s “outside the box” thinking skills led him to ask why no one had thought yet of slicing open fossilized dinosaur eggs – and the result was the discovery of the delicate embryos, fossilized in place.  He was a leader in the now-widely-accepted theory that dinosaurs were warm-blooded, social creatures more like birds than cold-blooded animals like lizards.

Horner has named several new species of dinosaurs, including Maiasaura, the “good mother reptile.” Three dinosaur species have been named after him. He has published more than 100 professional papers, eight popular books (including Dinosaurs Under the Big Sky) and 50 popular articles. His book Digging Dinosaurs was lauded by New Scientist magazine as one of the 200 most important science books of the 20th century.

Horner was the technical advisor for Steven Spielberg on all four Jurassic Park movies, including this past summer’s global hit Jurassic World.  He also helped inspire the lead character Alan Grant, portrayed by actor Sam Neill in the first and third films.

Awarded the famed MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 1986, Horner has received many other honors and awards.  Most recently, in 2013, he was awarded the Romer-Simpson Medal, the highest honor given by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, for his lifetime of achievement in the field.  Earlier this year, he was recognized as one of the world’s top 24 scientists by Newton Graphic Science magazine.

Among his many television appearances, Horner has been featured on 60 Minutes, the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel.  He also serves as a senior adjunct scientist for the Smithsonian Institution.

Attribution: Chapman University Blog


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