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Smithsonian Institution
Research Scientist & Curator
paleobotany, paleoclimate


Scott L. Wing was born in New Orleans and grew up there and in Durham, North Carolina. His childhood interest in fossils was reinforced by fieldwork in Wyoming while he was an undergraduate at Yale University, where he received his B.S. in Biology in 1976. He completed his Ph.D. in Biology at Yale in 1981, after which he was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California for one year. He worked for the U.S.G.S. for an additional year as a geologist, then moved to the Smithsonian Institution in 1984. Wing's research at the Smithsonian has focused on fossil plants, with emphasis on understanding how climate has changed in the past, and how plants have responded to climate change. He is currently working on a project to uncover the causes and effects of a sudden global warming event that occurred 56 million years ago, and another project to study the origin of tropical rainforests. Wing has published more than 70 scientific papers and edited 5 books; he holds adjunct or honorary positions at University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Birmingham, and the Florida Museum of Natural History, and is a Fellow of the Paleontological Society. Wing has been involved in a number of exhibit projects at the Smithsonian, most recently in FossiLab, where visitors to the Museum of Natural History can see and interact with scientists who are working on fossils in a glass-walled laboratory.