Natural History Museum of Utah

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Scott Sampson

Scott Sampson

Research Curator

Areas of Expertise:

  • Connecting children with nature
  • Science communication
  • Dinosaur paleontology and the Mesozoic world of dinosaurs
  • Evolutionary theory, including expansion to include the Universe Story, from the Big Bang to the present day
  • Using mass media to bolster science education for children’s
  • Collaborative process in creating an exhibit from beginning to end
  • Aesthetics of exhibit design, integrating science and art
  • Informal learning environments based around an exhibit or event
  • The role natural history museum plays in our culture


Scott Sampson is a Canadian dinosaur paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and educator who serves as Research Curator at the Natural History Museum of Utah, the University of Utah.

After receiving his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Toronto in 1993, he spent a year working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, followed by five years as assistant professor of anatomy at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine on Long Island. From 1999-2007, he held a dual position with the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah, serving for the last several years of that period as chief curator and associate professor, respectively.

His research has focused on the ecology and evolution of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, and he has conducted fieldwork in a number of countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. His current research efforts are focused on a large scale project in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, southern Utah, which has yielded abundant remains of a previously unknown assemblage of dinosaurs. Sampson has published numerous scientific and popular articles, and has lectured extensively to audiences of all ages on dinosaurs and evolution.

In 2007, Sampson moved to the San Francisco Bay Area of California, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

In addition to continuing dinosaur research through the University of Utah, he is now pursuing a range of new projects focused on education. Sampson was the primary scientific consultant and on-air host of the four-part Discovery Channel series Dinosaur Planet. Appearing as “Dr. Scott the Paleontologist,” he is presently serving the same pair of roles for the PBS children’s series Dinosaur Train, produced by the Jim Henson Company.

He recently completed Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life (University of California Press, 2009), the first comprehensive review of dinosaur paleontology for a general audience in more than two decades. Sampson is now at work on another general audience book, this one addressing the Epic of Evolution, the grand saga of cosmos, life, and culture that extends from the Big Bang to the present day.

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