Richard Gilder Graduate School

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The fiberglass skull of Barnum Brown's second Tyrannosaurus rex fitted on the revised mount now standing on the 4th floor of the AMNH.


The AMNH in New York is home to some of the most impressive biological collections in the world, the institution playing host to various students of natural history. This tradition of allowing researchers and graduate student access to the collections is now taking another step forward with the opening of the Richard Gilder Graduate School, currently offering a Ph.D. in Comparative Biology. As the "Welcome" statement from John J. Flynn states, much of biology has become focused on individual species or groups, "naturalists" (in the classic sense) becoming more and more rare. While there is always a need for precise and narrowly-focused information, there is also a need for integrated study, and this is precisely what the RGG program seeks to address. Here's a summary from the Mission Statement;

The mission of the Ph.D. Program in Comparative Biology is to train the next generation of biologists through an approach that focuses on the history and interactions among species, and that takes advantage of the American Museum of Natural History's unique and unparalleled resources, including its world-renowned collections; a legacy of excellence in field discovery and theoretical advances; and a public mission in science education.

What makes this deal even sweeter (aside from rubbing elbows with the likes of Niles Eldredge, Mark Norell, Michael Novacek, Ian Tattersall, and Ross MacPhee) is that the website states "Students in the new Comparative Biology Ph.D. Program typically will be fully supported with tuition, stipends, health benefits, computer, and a research budget," clearly an excellent opportunity for those who can get in. If I wasn't so sure that I'd be rejected I'd apply right now myself, but I'm sure that those who do qualify for the program will have access to a very unique academic opportunity.

[Hat-tip to Michael]

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I heard about this a while back, and although it sounds like it could be a really great deal with a lot of benefits, I had some thoughts on possible cons as well. I think that just like any program, it probably depends on the person and their individual goals.