Doug Erwin is a Senior Scientist and Curator of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D. C., as well as a part-time Resident Faculty member of SFI. His research involves a variety of aspects of the history of life and evolution, including ecological and developmental aspects of the origin of animals, the causes and consequences of the great end-Permian mass extinction some 252 million years ago, and the evolutionary history of really old snails. His latest project is a book on evolutionary innovation through the history of life, which will also explore the similarities and differences between economic and biological innovation. Various field projects have taken Doug repeatedly to China, South Africa and Namibia, and he has done geological field work in various other regions as well.
Erwin received an A.B. from Colgate University in 1980 and a Ph. D from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1985. He is the author or editor of six books, including "Extinction: How life nearly died 250 million years ago" published in December 2005 by Princeton University Press. Doug has been Co-Editor of Paleobiology and is a member of the Science Board of Reviewing Editors and the editorial boards of a number of other journals. He has served in a variety of advisory capacities to the Smithsonian, NASA, NSF, the NRC and other agencies, and as Interim Director of the National Museum of Natural History. His tombstone will probably read, unfortunately: "He ran a good meeting."