Jaelyn Eberle in museum office

Jaelyn Eberle (Geological Sciences)

The University of Colorado Boulder has named Dr. Jaelyn Eberle interim director of its University of Colorado Museum of Natural History effective July 1.

Eberle was appointed to serve as interim director after an initial search to succeed current director Dr. J. Patrick Kociolek did not result in a hire. Eberle will maintain her academic tenure home in the Department of Geological Sciences.  

“We are truly fortunate to have someone of Jaelyn’s stature and experience to lead the Museum,” said Massimo Ruzzene, acting vice chancellor for Research and Innovation and dean of the institutes. “Having served at the Museum for 20 years, including as interim director from fall 2015 through spring 2016, Jaelyn is ideally qualified to ensure the team’s research productivity and public impact will continue unabated.”

Eberle, a vertebrate paleontologist and full professor, first joined the Museum in the fall of 2002 as a curator of fossil vertebrates and assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. She has served as director of the Museum & Field Studies graduate program for seven years and teaches courses in Historical Geology, Vertebrate Paleontology and in the Museum & Field Studies Program.

Eberle’s research focuses on the study of mammalian faunas during past intervals of climate change as well as the recovery and evolution of mammals following the mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Her field research on fossil mammals takes her across the Rocky Mountain Region as well as to the North Slope of Alaska and Canada's High Arctic.

Eberle received a PhD from the University of Wyoming in 1996 and a BS from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) in 1991.

“Thanks to Dr. Kociolek’s distinguished leadership over the years, the Museum has seen considerable growth in its collections, programming, and the number of people we’ve reached across the state and the country,” said Eberle. “I am excited to take on the role of interim director during a pivotal time in the Museum’s history and I’m looking forward to working with our team of faculty, staff and students.”

Kociolek, who served as director of the Museum for 14 years, will spend the next year on sabbatical, after which he will return to the museum as a curator and member of the faculty. 

“Among the many accomplishments during his tenure, the Museum’s collections grew to nearly 5 million objects, and the Museum responded to the Covid pandemic by reaching nearly 300,000 people through online lectures, programming and exhibits,” said Ruzzene. “The university and community are so appreciative of all that Pat has achieved while leading the Museum.”

“It has been a pleasure to be part of a team that has accomplished so much since 2008,” said Kociolek. “It has been a time of tremendous growth in research and grant funding, publications and public impact, and that growth could only have happened through the efforts of the entire Museum team.”

The mission of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History is to contribute to the knowledge of the natural world and human history through research, teaching and public education. The Museum and Field Studies Graduate Program offers students an opportunity to earn a Master of Science degree or a certificate of Museum Studies. The Museum’s exhibition galleries are open to the public, free of charge, seven days a week and the Museum offers a variety of programs and events throughout the year.

Tamara Sumner, director of the Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS), is serving as chair of the search committee, which is conducting a nationwide search to fill the role permanently. The search committee is currently being assembled and is expected to conclude its work by the end of 2022.