Archive for Wednesday, July 13, 1994


July 13, 1994


The new director of the Museum of Natural History has Jayhawk roots

A vertebrate paleontologist from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has been named the new director of Kansas University's Museum of Natural History.

Leonard "Kris" Krishtalka, assistant director for science at the Pittsburgh, Pa., museum, will assume his new job in Dyche Hall on July 1, 1995. He was the top candidate to become the museum's sixth director, museum officials said.

Krishtalka, who is on vacation and was unavailable for comment, will replace director Philip S. Humphrey, who is retiring next June after a 28-year career.

Humphrey also is on vacation and unavailable for comment.

Krishtalka was the top candidate for several reasons, said Robert Bearse, KU's associate vice chancellor for research and graduate studies.

"(In) my own view, he showed a great deal of vision, he has tremendous drive and he's very articulate," Bearse said. "The near unanimity of opinion was that he can work to make the natural history museum the best academic museum in the country. He's going to take it to the next step."

The new director's curriculum vitae paints the following picture:

Krishtalka, a native of Montreal, Canada, studied at McGill University in Montreal from 1962 to 1966 and earned a bachelor of science degree in 1969 and a master of science in 1971 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

He came to KU as a Ph.D. candidate during the 1971-72 academic year and subsequently transferred to Texas Tech University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1975 in vertebrate paleontology.

Krishtalka joined the Carnegie Museum of Natural History as a post-doctoral and research fellow in 1975. He has worked as curator, associate curator and assistant curator of vertebrate paleontology and editor of scientific publications. He was simultaneously teaching at the University of Pittsburgh as an adjunct professor.

He took a leave of absence in 1992 to work as a program director in the division of environmental biology at the National Science Foundation.

His field research has taken him across North America and overseas to Greece and Africa, where he worked in Kenya with R.E.F. Leakey.

Krishtalka will be taking over the Museum of Natural History one year after a reorganization consolidated KU's four systematics museums -- the Museum of Natural History, McGregor Herbarium, Snow Entomological Museum and Museum of Invertebrate Paleontology.

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