Gregory James Smith, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University, Peabody College
Center for Science Outreach
060 Wyatt Center
Nashville, TN 37235
February 2020: I was awarded funding to build a community garden and outdoor classroom at JOHS! The grant was funded by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and will help establish an "EcoTeam" club at our school focused on sustainability, composting, and outreach.
January 2020: The second chapter of my Ph.D. was accepted to Paleobiology! We find evidence for competition for dietary resources in the late Pleistocene Cuvieronius and suggest that this may have contributed to its eventual extinction. The paper will be published open access soon; until then, you can check out the preprint here.
October 2019: My co-authors and I have a new paper out in Quaternary International. We collected stable isotope data on megafauna from the Big Cypress Creek site in Texas. The site is amazing because it is the latest-known occurrence of the gomphothere Cuvieronius in North America and is, to-date, the only North American site with a toxodont (South American notoungulate)! Check it out here.
August 2019: I began a postdoctoral appointment at the Center for Science Outreach at Vanderbilt University. In this role, I work as the resident scientist for the Interdisciplinary Science and Research Program at John Overton High School in Nashville, TN. I leverage my earth science background to develop engaging curricula for 11th graders, teaching them scientific habits of mind and building their technical skills in preparation for college courses.
July 2019: I taught a 3-week course for the Vanderbilt Summer Academy, entitled Geology in the 21st Century. You can find lesson plans, PowerPoints, and student presentations at the course GitHub page.
May 2019: The Friends of Fort Negley, of which I am chair of the Fossil Programs Committee, was awarded two separate grants to support paleontological education and outreach in the Nashville, TN area. A $2500 Paleontological Society Education and Outreach Grant will go towards installation of a fossil exhibit at the Fort Negley Visitor's Center. A $3500 Predators Foundation Grant will go towards supporting K-12 field trips to Fort Negley and in-class programming for 12 schools in the area. Thank you to our supporters!
May 2019: I successfully defended my Ph.D., fulfilling my childhood dream to become a professional paleontologist! I'm a doctor!
March 2019: My co-authors and I named the first new species of mastodon in North America since 1799. Meet Mammut pacificus - the Pacific Mastodon! This species is distinguishable from Mammut americanum in having long, narrow molars, stouter limbs, and more sacral vertebrae. All Californian mastodons are hereby referred to M. pacificus! Paper is open access in PeerJ!