Simmons, Nancy B. main content.

Nancy B. Simmons

A person standing outdoors, wearing a white tee shirt, with a building and trees in the background.

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


American Museum of Natural History Youth Science Program

Morpholution: An Authentic Youth Science Program


Researchers Reconstruct the Common Ancestor of Placental Mammals


  • 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.



Amador, L. I., N. B. Simmons, and N. P. Giannini.  2018.  Aerodynamic reconstruction of the primitive fossil bat Onychonycteris finneyi (Mammalia: Chiroptera).  Biological Letters 15: 20180857.

Ingala, M. R., N. B. Simmons, and S. L. Perkins.  2018.  Bats are an untapped system for understanding microbiome evolution in mammals.  mSphere 3:e00397-18.
Herrera, J. P., N. Duncan, E. Clare, B. Fenton, and N. B. Simmons.  2018.  Disassembly of fragmented bat communities in Orange Walk District, Belize.  Acta Chiropteralogica 20: 147—159.

Amador, L. I., N. P. Giannini, N. B. Simmons, and V. Abdala.  2018.  Morphology and evolution of sesamoid elements in bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera).  American Museum Novitates 3905 :1-40.

Becker, D. J., M. C. Chumchal, H. G. Broders, J. M. Korstian, E. L. Clare, T. R. Ra N. B. Simmons, and M. B. Fenton.  2018.  Mercury bioaccumulation in bats reflects dietary connectivity to aquatic food webs.  Environmental Pollution 233: 1076-1085.

Hand, S. R. Beck, M. Archer, N. B. Simmons, G. F. Gunnell, R. P. Scofield, A. J. D. Tennyson, V. L. De Pietri, S. Salisbury, and T. Worthy.  2018.  A new, large-bodied omnivorous bat (Noctilionoidea: Mystacinidae) reveals lost morphological and ecological diversity since the Miocene in New Zealand.  Scientific Reports 8: 235, 1-11. DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-18403-w.

Velazco, P. M., J. A. Soto-Centeno, D. W. Fleck, R. S. Vos N. B. Simmons.  2017.  A new species of nectar-feeding bat of the genus Hsunycteris (Phyllostomidae: Lonchophyllinae) from northeastern Peru.  American Museum Novitates3881: 1-26.

Voss, R. S., D. W. Fleck, R. E. Strauss, P. M. Velazco, and N. B. Simmons.  2016.  Roosting ecology of Amazonian bats:  evidence for guild structure in hyperdiverse mammalian communities.  American Museum Novitates 3870: 1-43.

Cirranello, A., N. B. Simmons, S. Solari, and R. J. Baker.  2016.  Morphological diagnoses of higher-level phyllostomid taxa (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae).  Acta Chiropteralogica 18: 39-71.

Simmons, N. B., E. R. Seiffert, and G.F. Gunnell.  2016. A new family of large omnivorous bats (Mammalia, Chiroptera) from the Late Eocene of the Fayum Depression, Egypt, with comments on use of the name “Eochiroptera”.  American Museum Novitates 3857: 1-43.

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