As a Curator in the Dinosaur Institute, Dr. Nathan Smith supervises the Dinosaur Institute staff and conducts paleontological research in support of the Institute's programs.
Originally from Crystal Lake, Illinois, Nate grew up fascinated with dinosaurs, science, and baseball. He received his B.A. in Biology from Augustana College, a M.S. in Geoscience from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago. Nate also served as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Field Museum of Natural History and an Assistant Professor of Biology at Howard University before joining the Natural History Museum in 2015. Paleontological fieldwork has taken Nate to Antarctica, Argentina, China, and the southwestern and western United States. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic, and focuses on the evolution and biogeography of Triassic–Jurassic dinosaurs, Cenozoic waterbirds, scleractinian corals, and the application of phylogenetic comparative methods to broad questions in systematic biology and paleontology. The origin and initial diversification of dinosaurs represents one of the most poorly known events of vertebrate evolution, and much of Nate's recent research in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico and the Central Transantarctic Mountains has helped to fill major geographic, temporal, and taxonomic gaps in our understanding of early dinosaurs and the world they inhabited.
These studies have received international press coverage, and Nate's research programs have been featured in the 3-D IMAX®️ movies, Dinosaurs Alive! and Dinosaurs of Antarctica. Nate also served as Co-Curator of the traveling exhibition, Antarctic Dinosaurs.