At the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, paleontological research conducted spans diverse subject areas including paleobiology, paleoecology, taphonomy, biostratigraphy, biogeography, evolution and paleoclimatology. Faculty and students combine field research in both modern and ancient settings with museum studies and laboratory analyses to reconstruct past paleoenvironmental conditions and reveal their ecological and evolutionary consequences through geologic time. Collectively, research is focused on three key paleontological questions:

  • How do organisms respond to environmental changes and adapt to different environments?
  • How is biological diversity distributed across space and time?
  • How are paleontologic resources best used and conserved for scientific study?

Understanding the relationships between organisms and their environments is important for interpreting the evolutionary history of the biosphere and for predicting future biotic responses to climate change.

Current study systems include Cenozoic terrestrial deposits with rich mammalian faunas and Cretaceous marine deposits from the Western Interior Seaway, Neogene sequences rich in microfossils and invertebrates from the Eastern Pacific and Western Atlantic Ocean; and modern freshwater and coastal biomes of tropical America. The close association with the SD Mines Museum of Geology and Martin Paleontology Research Laboratory gives researchers access to research collections built over the last century.


  • Laurie Anderson
    Paleobiology, Paleoecology, Taphonomy  
  • Sarah Keenan
    Vertebrate taphonomy, low-temperature geochemistry, Geomicrobiology
  • Darrin Pagnac
    Mammalian paleontology, Paleoecology  
  • Maribeth Price
    GIS, Geospatial, Close-range photogrammetry  
  • Sally Shelton
    Curation, Conservation, Resource management  

Emeritus Faculty

  • James Fox
    Stratigraphy, Sedimentology, Petroleum geology
  • James Martin
    Vertebrate Paleontology, Biostratigraphy  

Research Focus Areas