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Meet the Curators


Ian M. Tattersall, Curator, Division of Anthropology; and Co-Curator of the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins

Ian Tattersall's research interests include human evolution, particularly the recognition of species in the human fossil record and the determination of their relationships, as well as integration of the human fossil record with evolutionary theory. In collaboration with Research Associate Jeffrey Schwartz he recently completed a three-volume compendium documenting and analyzing the major specimens that make up the human fossil record. Dr. Tattersall is also continuing his independent inquiries into the nature and emergence of modern human cognition. He maintains an active interest in the systematics, ecology, and conservation of the lemurs of Madagascar, and is collecting material to update his classic book The Primates of Madagascar, originally published in 1982. In addition to Madagascar, he has conducted fieldwork in the Comoro Islands, Mauritius, Borneo, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan, Yemen, Vietnam, Surinam, French Guiana, Reunion, and the United States. His other books include The Monkey in the Mirror: Essays on the Science of What Makes Us Human (Harcourt, 2002), Extinct Humans (Westview Press, 2000, with Jeffrey Schwartz), Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998), The Last Neanderthal: The Rise, Success, and Mysterious Extinction of Our Closest Human Relative (MacMillan, 1995); and most recently (with Hall of Human Origins co-Curator Rob DeSalle) Human Origins: What Bones and Genomes Tell Us About Ourselves (Texas A&M University Press, 2007), intended as a companion volume to the Hall. Dr. Tattersall is an adjunct professor in Columbia University's Department of Anthropology, as well as at City University of New York. He received his Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale University in 1971.

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Rob DeSalle, Co-Director of the Molecular Systematics Laboratories, Curator, Division of Invertebrate Zoology; and Co-Curator of the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins

Rob DeSalle's fields of specialization include molecular evolution, population genetics, systematics and bioinformatics. His early research focused on the molecular systematics of the Drosophilidae, a family of flies. His more recent work centers on gene family evolution and comparative genomics in a wide variety of organisms, including pathogenic bacteria. In addition, Dr. DeSalle is one of the founders of the Museum's Conservation Genetics Program, which applies studies at the molecular level to the conservation of wildlife and wild lands throughout the world. In 1996, Dr. DeSalle and his colleagues developed a genetic test for caviar that helped gain protection for sturgeon in the Caspian Sea basin under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES.) Dr. DeSalle received his B.A. in biological sciences from the University of Chicago in 1976 and his Ph.D. in 1984 from Washington University. He joined the Museum in 1991. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, New York University, and the City University of New York. In addition to his research and teaching, Dr. DeSalle co-authored The Science of Jurassic Park and the Lost World (Basic Books, 1997), Epidemic! (New Press, 2000) and Welcome to the Genome (Wiley, 2005) and curated the Museum's landmark exhibitions Epidemic! The World of Infectious Disease (1999) and The Genomic Revolution (2001).

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