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ISU Panorama. Photo by Chuck Peterson.


Brandon Peecook Portrait

Brandon R. Peecook, Ph.D.

 Associate Professor in Biological Sciences & Curator Idaho Museum of Natural History Paleobiology

Office: Life Science 321 & Museum 113
Bio 208-282-2749 & IMNH 208-282-4151



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The fossil record is the cumulative remains (mostly hard parts like bones, wood, and shells) of past life on Earth, and as a paleobiologist it is my dataset. My research revolves around fossils safely stored in museum collections or that my team and I find during fieldwork. The fossil record can help us understand past worlds & creatures certainly, but it also acts as a unique source of data unavailable to studies using only modern organisms. Mass extinction events are an example: we wouldn't know about those massively consequential events if not for fossils.
Specifically, my primary research focus is on Permian and Triassic terrestrial ecosystems, their evolution, and the influence of geography in recovery from the End-Permian Mass Extinction. I have conducted field programs across the western USA and overseas in places like Zambia and Antarctica. Much of my specimen-based work concerns the origins of and early evolution majors vertebrate clades like reptiles, ichthyosaurs, dinosaurs, and dicynodonts, though I have dabbled in tyrannosaurs and Pleistocene elephant DNA a few times (excavating and publishing Washington State's ONLY non-avian dinosaur specimen). Many of these endeavours involve high resolution synchrotron tomography of important small-bodied fossils that are processed in the Idaho Virtualization Lab. 



2016, PhD Biology: University of Washington, Seattle
2009, BS Ecology & Evolutionary Biology: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Biographical Sketch

I have been getting lost in biodiversity since before I can remember. A pivotal moment in my life was in middle school and I started to grasp that evolution united both the nature in my backyard with the dinosaurs in my books; it was all part of the same larger whole. Extinct organisms were once living organisms following the same rules, principles, and patterns that biologists can study today. Another way to put it: all of the biodiversity surrounding us today (ourselves included) is just one flavor of what life can be like on Earth. Fossils are data points and show us these past worlds, and also give us incredible insight into how the modern world came to be.  
I have spent my career working in museums as a docent, educator, and researcher. 



1191: Wonder About Biology
3314: Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
4435/5535: Vertebrate Paleontology
4491/92: Senior Seminar
5514: Graduate Teaching Seminar
6692: Graduate Seminar
HONS 3391: Mass Extinctions and the Future of Life on Earth
I am a guest lecturer in Intro Bio I & II, Biological Illustration, Organic Evolution, Herpetology, Ichthyology, General Entomology, Ornithology, Mammalogy, & Plant-Animal Interactions


Selected publications

Theobald, E. J., M. Hill, E. Tran, S. Agrawal, E. N. Arroyo, S. Behling, N. Chambwe, D. L. Cintrón, J. Cooper, G. Dunster, J. Grummer, K. Hennessey, J. Hsiao, N. Iranon, L. Jones III, H. Jordt, M. Keller, M. Lacey, C. Littlefield, A. Lowe, S. Newman, V. Okolo, S. L. Olroyd, B. R. Peecook, S. Pickett, D. Slager, I. Caviedes-Solis, K. E. Stanchak, V. Sundaravardan, C. Valdebenito, C. Williams, K. Zinsli, & S. R. Freeman. 2020. Active learning narrows achievement gaps for underrepresented students in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA e1916903117.

Peecook, B. R., R. M. H. Smith, & C. A. Sidor. 2019. A novel archosauromorph from Antarctica and an updated review of a high-latitude vertebrate assemblage in the wake of the end-Permian mass extinction. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology e1536664.

Peecook, B. R., J. S. Steyer, N. J. Tabor, & R. M. H. Smith. 2018. Updated geology and vertebrate paleontology of the Triassic Ntawere Formation of northeastern Zambia, with special emphasis on the archosauromorphs; pp. 8—38 in C.A. Sidor and S.J. Nesbitt (eds.), Vertebrate and Climatic Evolution of Triassic Rift Basins of Tanzania and Zambia. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Memoir 17. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 37 (6, Supplement).

Peecook, B. R., & C. A. Sidor. 2015. The first dinosaur from Washington State and a review of Pacific coast dinosaurs from North America. PLoS ONE 10:e0127792.

Peecook, B. R., C. A. Sidor, S. J. Nesbitt, R. M. H. Smith, J. S. Steyer, & K. D. Angielczyk. 2013. A new silesaurid from the upper Ntawere Formation of Zambia (Middle Triassic) demonstrates the rapid diversification of Silesauridae (Avemetatarsalia: Dinosauriformes). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33:1127—1137.

Sidor, C. A, D. A. Vilhena, K. D. Angielczyk, A. K. Huttenlocker, S. J. Nesbitt, B. R. Peecook, J. S. Steyer, R. M. H. Smith, & L. A. Tsuji. 2013. Provincialization of terrestrial faunas following the end-Permian mass extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 110:8129—8133.