Hank Woolley sitting on top of rocks, brushing a specimen, with a mountain in the background

The Postdoctoral program at NHMLAC supports the training of the next generation of museum scholars conducting original research across diverse disciplines. These Ph.D. researchers bring new perspectives to the museum and perform innovative studies that elevate our institutional reputation and often yield new discoveries, analytical tools, and even whole fields of research. Postdoctoral Fellows also contribute to the broader mission of the Museum through their collections, service, and outreach work.

NHMLAC Postdoctoral Fellows are exposed to unique museum programs and endeavors that are often not available in traditional university settings. These include experiences in museum collections management and curation, volunteer management, fundraising training, exhibit development and scientific communication, community science and engagement, and large-scale public festivals focused on informal science education. The cross-disciplinary nature of a museum, and a diverse Research & Collections group numbering over 100 staff, provide ample opportunity for Postdoctoral Fellows to build research relationships and perspectives spanning interests in e.g., earth history, biodiversity, climate science, history, and community science.

NHMLAC Postdoctoral Fellows are supported through a variety of means, including national fellowships, external grants, donor funds, and endowments. Our postdoctoral alumni have gone on to illustrious careers in prestigious academic, museum, and industry roles. Scholars interested in pursuing postdoctoral research at NHMLAC should review the resources below and reach out to the relevant Departments and Curators about opportunities.

Current Postdoctoral Fellows:

Zach Morris holding a gator with water and a cloudy blue sky in the background

Dr. Zachary Morris (2024–)
Dinosaur Institute Postdoctoral Fellow

“Integrating developmental, anatomical, and paleontological perspectives into the origins of convergence in the reptile skull”


Head and shoulders portrait of Priscilla San Juan wearing sunglasses in the left foreground of the frame with a hang glider in the background in the top right of the frame

Dr. Priscilla San Juan (2023–2025) 
NSF-supported Postdoctoral Fellow, Mammalogy

“Evolutionary relationship between sucking lice and mammalian hosts”



Head and shoulders portrait of Hank Woolley standing in front of two dinosaur skeletons

Dr. Hank Woolley (2023–2025)
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Dinosaur Institute

“Novel approaches to evaluating the quality of the global fossil record: The frontier between taphonomy and phylogenetics”


Head and shoulders portrait of Jose Alberto Cruz Silva wearing a hat with desert terrain and a blue sky with clouds in the background

Dr. Adolfo Pacheco Castro (2022–2023)
NSF-supported Postdoctoral Fellow, Vertebrate Paleontology

“Plio-Pleistocene Mexican fossil record of small mammals in the Great American Biotic Interchange”


Head and shoulders portrait of Austin Baker with arms crossed with

Dr. Austin Baker (2022–2024) 
California State Legislature-supported Postdoctoral Fellow, Entomology

“California insect barcode initiative: DNA barcoding all insect species of California”


Head and shoulders portrait of Jose Alberto Cruz Silva holding a specimen in a vial in one hand and a label in the other hand

Dr. Jose Alberto Cruz Silva (2023–2026) 
NSF-supported Postdoctoral Fellow, Rancho La Brea

“Tropical ecosystem response to Late-Quaternary environmental change: Insight from remarkable asphalt-preserved biotas”


Head and shoulders portrait of Jackie Childers wearing a blue shirt and necklace of blue squares

Dr. Jackie Childers (2023–2025) 
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Ornithology

“The evolution of an avian color palette: Understanding the roles of genes, environment, and life history underlying egg and feather color in weaver birds”


Head and shoulders protrait of Jessie George kneeling down by a cabinet, with drawers of specimens pulled out

Dr. Jessie George (2023–2024) 
NHMLAC Postdoctoral Fellow, Rancho La Brea

“Phytolith reconstruction of vegetation in central Mexico during the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI) and plant macrofossil and charcoal reconstruction of vegetation and fire at the La Brea Tar Pits during the Pleistocene”


NHMLAC Background:

Founded in 1913, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County represents one of the largest natural and cultural historical collections in the United States, caring for over 35 million specimens and objects spanning 4.5 billion years of earth history. It includes the main campus Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, as well as the La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park. NHMLAC also operates four off-site collection centers and facilities, totaling more than 100,000 square feet, housing especially extensive and/or large collections, ranging from invertebrate fossils and whale skeletons to historic automobiles. The museums serve over 1.3 million visitors a year, and include the only active urban paleontological excavation site in the world. The vision of NHMLAC is “To inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural world”. Read more here.

Research and Collections Resources:

NHMLAC employs a team of nearly 100 staff dedicated to the study and care of 18 collections and associated departments (each with associated equipment, libraries, and laboratory space) encompassing zoology, paleontology, geology, history, and anthropology. As part of the Research and Collections community, Postdoctoral Fellows have access to the vast analytical, laboratory, collections, and fieldwork resources of our institution. Postdoctoral Fellows also participate broadly in museum training opportunities. These include DEI workshops and training, community engagement sessions, and collections digitization working groups.

NHMLAC is also home to the Urban Nature Research Center (UNRC) and Diversity Initiative for the Southern California Ocean (DISCO) research institutes. Many research projects of UNRC and DISCO are supported by NHMLAC’s Community Science office, which coordinates community science and publicly engaged collaborative projects.

Read more about our:

Outreach Resources:

HR Resources:

Most of our Postdoctoral Fellows fall into one of three categories, although there may be exceptions: 1) Postdocs hired directly by NHM, e.g., on a grant to one of our curators, who are museum employees; 2) Postdocs with an independent grant such as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, who are self-employed, not museum employees; 3) Postdocs working jointly with multiple mentors who are employed by another institution, but working on-site at the museum. Salaries and benefits such as healthcare coverage depend on these distinctions.

View NHM's career page

View important health plan information for NSF Postdoctoral Fellows hosted by NHMLAC who are not museum employees

NHM Postdocs at work and in the field:

Jessie George leaning down by a cabinet with drawers of specimens pulled out
Hank Woolley wearing a green Dino Fest shirt standing by specimens on a table and making a peace sign with his hand
Alyssa Bell wearing at straw hat with a tent and the Gnatalie Quarry in the background
Rachel Racicot standing by a colleague leaning down by a cabinet, with an opened drawer filled with specimens housed inside boxes, and cabinets on either side of them
Mairin Balisi leaning over a fossil bones encased in a jacket and sweeping a small brush over the fossil.
Students standing on a mountain ridge, with one looking across to the other side and the other pointing their phone at the camera

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