Simmons, Nancy B. main content.

Nancy B. Simmons

Nancy B. Simmons

Curator-in-Charge, Department of Mammalogy, Division of Vertebrate Zoology
Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School



  • University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., 1989
  • University of California, Berkeley, Ph.C., 1985
  • Pomona College, B.A., 1981

Research Interests

Dr. Simmons specializes in the morphology and evolutionary biology of bats (Chiroptera). She works with both living and fossil species, and is interested in patterns of species diversification, biogeography, the evolution of dietary habits, higher-level bat relationships, early Tertiary fossil bats, and the evolution of flight and echolocation. A morphologist by training, she works with data gained from museum specimens and high-resolution CT scans, combining these with DNA sequence data generated by collaborators to build and test phylogenetic and evolutionary hypotheses. She conducts fieldwork yearly in the Neotropics, and has lately been expanding her work into Southeast Asia. Most recently she has been collaborating on detailed studies of noctilionoid bats (including the hyperdiverse Neotropical Phyllostomidae) and pteropodids (megabits or Old World Fruit bats). She is also working on detailed studies of Eocene and Oligocene bats from around the world.  In addition to her work on bats, Dr. Simmons is part of team working on further development of tools for managing large-scale morphological projects (e.g., MorphoBank) and crowd sourcing collection of phenomic data to help build the Tree of Life.

American Museum of Natural History Youth Science Program

Morpholution: An Authentic Youth Science Program


Researchers Reconstruct the Common Ancestor of Placental Mammals



Gunnell, G., N. B. Simmons, and E. R. Seiffert.  2014. Myzopodidae (Chiroptera) from the Late Paleogene of Egypt:  Emended family diagnosis and biogeographic origins of Noctilionoidea.  PLoS ONE 9(2): e86712. 
Velazco, P. M., R. Gregorin, R. S. Voss, and N. B. Simmons.  2014.  Extraordinary local diversity of Disk-winged bats (Thyropteridae: Thyroptera) in northeastern Peru, with the description of a new species and comments on roosting behavior.  American Museum Novitates 379: 1-28. 
Olival, K. J., C. W. Dick, N. B. Simmons, J. C. Morales, D. Melnkck, K. Dittmar, S, L, Perkins, P. Daszak, and R. Desalle.  2013.  Lack of population genetic structure and host specificity in the bat fly, Cyclopodia horsfeldi, across species of Pteropus bats in Southeast Asia.  Parasites and Vectors, 6: 231  (18 pp).
Burleigh, G., K. Alphonse, A. J. Alverson, H. M. Bik, C. Blank, A. L. Cirranello, H. Cui, M. Daly, T. G. Dietterich, G. Gasparich, J. Irvine, M. Julius, S. Kaufman, E. Law, J. Liu, L. Moore, M. A. O'Leary, M. Passarotti, S. Ranade, N. B. Simmons, D. W. Stevenson, R. W. Thacker, E. C. Theriot, S. Todorovic, P. M. Velazco, R. L. Walls, J. M. Wolfe, and M. Yu. Next-generation phenomics for the Tree of Life. PLOS Currents Tree of Life, 2013. 
Velazco, P. M., H. O’Neill, G. F. Gunnell, S. B. Cooke, R. Rimoli, A. L. Rosenberger, and N. B. Simmons.  2013. Quaternary bat diversity in the Dominican Republic.  American Museum Novitates 3779: 1-20.  h
O’Leary, M. A.,  J. I. Bloch, J. J. Flynn, T. J. Gaudin, A. Giallombardo, N. P. Giannini, S. L. Goldberg, B. P. Kraatz,  Z. Luo, J. Meng, X. Ni, M. J. Novacek, F. A. Perini,  Z. Randall,  G. W. Rougier, E. J. Sargis, M. T. Silcox, N. B. Simmons, M. Spaulding, P. M. Velazco, M. Weksler, J. R. Wible, and A. L. Cirranello.  2013. The placental mammal ancestor and the post-KPg radiation of placentals.  Science, 339: 662-667.  

Giannini, N.P., T. E. Macrini, J. R. Wible, T. P. Rowe, and N. B. Simmons.  2012.  The internal nasal skeleton of the bat Pteropus lyeli Andersen, 1908 (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae).  Annals of Carnegie Museum, 81: 1-17.
Dávalos, L. M., A. L. Cirranello, J. H. Geisler, and N. B. Simmons.  2012. Understanding phylogenetic incongruence: lessons from phyllostomid bats. Biological Reviews 87:  991—1024.  
Nogueria, M. R., I. P. Lima, A. L. Peracchi, and N. B. Simmons.  2012.  New genus and species of nectar-feeding bat from the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae:  Glossophaginae).  
American Museum Novitates 3747: 1—30.   

Smith, T., N. B.Simmons, J. Habersetzer, and G. F. Gunnelll.  2012.  Systematics and paleobiogeography of early bats. Pp. 23—66 in:  G.F. Gunnell and N. B. Simmons (eds.), Evolutionary History of Bats:  Fossils, Molecules, and Morphology.  Cambridge University Press.
Giannini, N. P., G. F. Gunnell, J. Habersetzer, and N. B. Simmons.  2012.  Evolution of body size and related key characters in bats.  Pp. 530—555 in:  G.F. Gunnell and N. B. Simmons (eds.), Evolutionary History of Bats:  Fossils, Molecules, and Morphology.  Cambridge University Press.
Almeida, F.C., N. P. Giannini, R. DeSalle, and N. B. Simmons.  2011.  Evolutionary relationships of the Old World Fruit bats (Chiroptera:  Pteropodidae):  Another star phylogeny?  BMC Evolutionary Biology 11: 281-298.  
Gunnell, G.F.; J. Habersetzer, E. Schlosser-Strum, N. B. Simmons, and T. Smith.  2011.  Primitive chiropteran teeth:  the complete dentition of the Messel bat Archaeonycteris trigonodon.  Pp. 73-76 in Lehmann, T. & Schaal, S.F.K. (eds), The World at the Time of Messel: Puzzles in Palaeobiology, Palaeoenvironment, and the History of Early Primates. Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Frankfurt am Main. pp. 203.

Velazco, P. M., and N. B. Simmons.  2011.  Systematics and taxonomy of Great Striped-faced bats of the genus Vampyrodes Thomas. 1900 (Chiroptera:  Phyllostomidae). 
American Museum Novitates 3710: 1-35.  

Simmons, N. B., K. L. Seymour, J. Habersetzer, and G. F. Gunnell.  2010.  Inferring echolocation in ancient bats.  Nature 466: E8.  

Lim, B., M. D. Engstrom, F. A. Reid, N. B. Simmons, R.S. Voss, and D. W. Fleck.  2010.  A new species of Pteropteryx (Chiroptera:  Emballonuridae) from Western Amazonia with comments on phylogenetic relationships within the genus.  American Museum Novitates 3686: 1-20.
Giannini, N. P., F. C. Almeida, N. B. Simmons.  2009.  Phylogenetic relationships of harpionycterine megabats.  Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 331: 183-204.  
Almeida, F., N.P. Giannini, R. DeSalle, and N. B. Simmons.  2009  The phylogenetic relationships of cynopterine fruit bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae: Cynopterinae).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53: 772-783. 

Teaching Experience

Faculty Appointments

  • Professor, Richard Guilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History, 2008- present
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Ph.D. Program in Biology, CUNY Graduate School, 1993-present
  • Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Columbia University, 1997-present

Courses Taught

Graduate Advisees

(Last 5 Years)

  • Zachary Calamari, AMNH RGGS, 2013-present
  • Miguel Pinto, CUNY, 2009-present
  • Susan Tsang, CUNY, 2009-present
  • Lauren Oliver, AMNH RGGS, 2011-2013


Graduate Committees

(Last 5 Years)

  • Eugenia Gold, AMNH RGGS, 2012-present
  • Camino Sanin, Columbia University E3B, 2010- present
  • Snorri Sigurdsson, Columbia University E3B, 2008-present
  • Esther Quintero, Columbia University E3B, 2006-2010
  • Cullen Geiselman, Columbia University E3B, 2004-2010

External Links