Academics and Research
Science at the American Museum of Natural History
- 34 million specimens and artifacts
- One of the world’s great natural history libraries
- New forms of collecting
- Frozen tissues
- Genomic & astrophysical data
- 175 scientists
- More than 35 with curatorial/professorial titles
- 120 field expeditions each year
- Legacy of excellence and achievement
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) was founded during a golden age of exploration, and for more than a century has played a leading role in exploration, discovery, and theoretical advances in the natural sciences. Today, the Museum has expanded its research in areas as widely varied as microbiology, genomics, and astrophysics. Central to these efforts has been the accumulation of one of the world’s most important museum collections—34 million specimens and artifacts; terabytes of astronomical, geological and biological data; and one of the great natural history library collections in the world—which serves as an invaluable resource for the international scientific community.
Offering Ph.D. training in the disciplines covered by AMNH meets the critical need to prepare the next generation of the finest researchers, teachers, and policy-makers both in the United States and worldwide.
Museum staff and students have made many historic contributions to science, developing new theories in biology, the history of life, and cultural understanding. A few highlights include the emergence at the AMNH of modern anthropology between 1900 and 1940; contributions to the mid-20th century refashioning of evolutionary theory into a synthesis that embraced genetics, paleontology, ecology, and taxonomy; and the development, in 1972, of a new approach to reconciling the fossil record with Darwin’s theory of evolution, “punctuated equilibrium.” In the 1970s and 1980s, the AMNH fostered groundbreaking approaches to deciphering the branching patterns of evolutionary relationships among organisms, promoting a revolution in the field of systematics. In the 1990s, the AMNH became the first museum to establish a program in comparative molecular genetics. These advances, which continue today, significantly transformed research approaches in fields that range from paleontology to evolutionary biology.
AMNH provides a wealth of science education programs for all audiences, from the youngest to the oldest. Graduate training is fully embraced by the Museum’s mission and is a vital and defining characteristic of the institution. Offering advanced scientific instruction in the disciplines covered by AMNH meets the critical need to prepare the next generation of the finest researchers, teachers, and policy-makers both in the United States and worldwide. In partnership with a select group of university partners—first formally with Columbia University in 1908 (and informally since the 1890s) and more recently with the City University of New York (CUNY), Cornell University, New York University (NYU), Stony Brook University, and formerly with Yale University—AMNH leads the oldest and largest alliances of their kind in graduate education.
See a list of some of our alumni and read more about the history of our vertebrate paleontology partnership.