November 18, 2005

Geophysicist wins prestigious professorship

Sir Peter Crane, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England, recently accepted Chicago’s prestigious Marion and John Sullivan University Professorship. As a newly minted faculty member of the department of geophysical sciences and of the College, Crane will resign from his position as director and most likely start teaching classes by 2007.

Crane is a respected scholar who has made revolutionary contributions to the field of evolutionary paleobiology, a branch of paleontology concerning fossils of plants, animals, and other organisms. He has academic positions at the University of London, the University of Reading, and the Imperial College. And, in 2004, he was knighted for services to horticulture and conservation.

A former professor for the geophysical sciences department and lecturer in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology, Crane spent 17 years at the U of C and retained a close connection to the University even after moving to Kew.

“He was well liked and well known,” said David Rowley, chairman of the geophysical sciences department. Crane was also the vice president for academic affairs, director of the Field Museum, and a curator in the geology department.

Set to arrive on campus July 2006, Crane will teach both undergraduate and graduate courses. Having previously taught Core sciences classes at the College, Crane also hopes to teach natural science and physical science sequences.

In addition to his work in the department of geophysical sciences, Crane will work with other divisions such as the department of biochemistry and molecular biology.

David Jablonski, chair of the Committee of Evolutionary Biology, was upbeat about the appointment.

“I do think that Sir Peter Crane’s appointment is a terrific coup for the University—he’s excelled at so many different kinds of science that we’ve really pulled our already outstanding paleontology and evolutionary biology programs up another notch.”