Nancy B. Simmons

Curator-in-Charge, Department of Mammalogy, Division of Vertebrate Zoology

Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School


Press & Special Programs

Global Bat Taxonomy Working Group

Searching for Fossil Bats in Colombia

Hunting Ancient Bats in Colombia - AMNH SciCafe

Do Vampire Bats Really Drink Blood?

How Did Bats Evolve Flight?

Orange Is The New Black—For Bats

New Bat Species With Orangutan Hue Discovered in West Africa

A new bat was discovered in Africa — and it’s orange and black like Halloween

How natural history museums should play a bigger role in finding the sources of wildlife pathogens

Fieldwork on Bats in Amazonian Peru

The Science of Speciation – Molecular Adaptation in Vampire Bats

Morpholution: An Authentic Youth Science Program

Seeing Inside Bats - AMNH SciCafe

The Science of Bats 


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

Research Interests

Dr. Simmons’ research focuses on morphology, systematics, ecology, and evolution of bats.  She works with both living and fossil species, and is interested in phylogenetic relationships, biogeography, evolution of ecological diversity, and community structure of Neotropical bat faunas. A morphologist by training, her students and collaborators have pulled her into many new research areas in recent years including genome/pheonome connections, bat ectoparasites and microbiomes, disease dynamics, and conservation biology.  She conducts fieldwork on living bats yearly in Belize, and in recent years has also been working with collaborators to collect Miocene fossil bats in Colombia. One of the primary organizers of the new GBatNet (Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks), she is also Chair of the Global Bat Taxonomy Working Group of the IUCN Bat Specialist Group, and a member of the Board of Directors of Bat Conservation International.  She is also on the Steering Committee for SEABCRU (Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Union) as well as the Steering Committee for Taxonomy and Collections for the Bat 1K Project, which is working to sequence genomes of all the world’s bats. 



  • Rietbergen, T. B., van den Hoek Ostende, L. W., Aase, A, Jones, M. F., Medeiros, E. D, and N. B. Simmons.  Accepted. The oldest known bat skeletons and their implications for Eocene chiropteran diversification.  PLOS ONE.  
  • Simmons, N.B. and A.L. Cirranello. 2023. Bat Species of the World: A taxonomic and geographic database. Version 1.3.
  • Garrett, N., J. Watkins, N. B. Simmons, M. B. Fenton A. M. Obregon, D. E. Sanchez, E. M. Froehlich, F. M. Walker, J. E. Littlefair, and E. L. Clare.  2023.  Airborne eDNA documents a diverse and ecologically complex tropical bat and other mammal community.  Environmental DNA   5:350–362.
  • Becker, D. J. Guang-Sheng Lei, Michael G. Janech, Alison M. Brand, M. Brock Fenton, N. B. Simmons, Ryan F. Relich, Benjamin A. Neely. 2022.  Serum proteomics identifies immune pathways and candidate biomarkers of coronavirus infection in wild vampire bats. Frontiers in Virology Vol. 2, Art. 862961, 1-13. 
  • López-Aguirre, C.; S. Hand, Suzanne; N. B. Simmons, and M. Silcox.  2022. Untangling the ecological signal in the dental morphology in the bat superfamily Noctilionoidea.  Journal of Mammalian Evolution.
  • Ingala, M. R. N. B. Simmons, M. Dunbar, C.Wultsch, K. Krampis, and S. L. Perkins. 2021. You are more than what you eat:  differential enrichment of microbiome functions across bat dietary niches.  Animal Microbiome (2021) 3:82, 17pp.
  • Velazco, P. M., R. S. Voss, D. W. Fleck, and N. B. Simmons.  2021.  Mammalian diversity and Matses ethnomammalogy in Amazonian Peru. Part 4: Bats.  Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 451: 1-199.
  • Ingala, M. R., N. B. Simmons, C. Wultsch, K. Krampis, K. L. Provost, and S. L. Perkins.  2021.  Molecular diet analysis of Neotropical bats based on fecal DNA metabarcoding.  Ecology and Evolution 11(12): 7474-7491.
  • Simmons, N. B., J. Flanders, E. M. Bakwo Fils, G. Parker, J. D. Suter, S. Bamba, M. Douno, M. Kobele Keita, A. E. Morales, and W. F. Frick.  2021.  A new dichromatic species of Myotis (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from the Nimba Mountains, Guinea.  American Museum Novitates 3963: 1-37. 
  • Thompson, C. W., K. L. Phelps, M. W. Allard, J. A. Cook, J. L. Dunnum, A. W. Ferguson, M. Gelang, F. A. Anwarali Khan, D. L. Paul, D. M. Reeder, N. B. Simmons, M. P. M. Vanhove, P. W. Webala, M. Weksler, and C. W. Kilpatrick. 2021. Preserve a voucher specimen! The critical need for integrating natural history collections in infectious disease studies. mBio 12(1): 1-20 e02698-20.

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

  • Mammalogy
  • Machine Learning Algorithms for Ecological Data Sets
  • Field and Lab Techniques for Identification of Bats and Ectoparasites

Graduate Advisees

(Last 5 Years)

  • Aless Vecino, AMNH RGGS, 2021-2022
  • Maddy Foote, AMNH RGGS, 2019-2020
  • Melissa Ingala, AMNH RGGS, 2016-2020
  • Kelly Speer, AMNH RGGS, 2015-2019

Graduate Committees

(Last 5 Years)

  • Pedro Monico, Rutgers University, 2023-present
  • Aless Vecino, AMNH RGGS, 2022-present
  • Anna Ragni, AMNH RGGS, 2016-2019