Wesleyan portrait of Ellen  Thomas

Ellen Thomas

Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History

Exley Science Center,

Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, Emerita

Wasch Center, 211


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BS University of Utrecht
MS University of Utrecht
PHD University of Utrecht

Ellen Thomas

I investigate benthic foraminifera (eukaryotic unicellular organisms) as proxies for the impact of changes in environment and climate on living organisms on various time scales, from millions of years to decades. I study foraminiferal assemblages, as well as trace element and isotope composition of their shells. Foraminifera live in salt or at least brackish water, so I concentrate on the oceans, from the deep sea up into tidal salt marshes. I am working to bring the  fossil collections in the Wesleyan Museum more in the spotlight. For more information, see my webpage either at Wesleyan or at Yale. I am interested in working with 3D scans and prints of foraminifera


  • 2021: emeritus
  • 2018-present: Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
  • 2016-present: Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
  • 2015-present: University Professor in the College of Integrated Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
  • 2005-present: Senior Research Scientist, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Yale University, New Haven CT
  • 2012-2016: Consultant in Paleobiology, American Museum of Natural History, NY.
  • 1997-present: Research Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
  • 2013: Leverhulme Visiting Professor, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, UK
  • 2005: Visiting Professor, Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e Geologico- Ambientali, Universita' di Bologna, Bologna, ITALY
  • 1991-2005: Research Affiliate, Center for Study of Global Change, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven CT
  • 1994-1995: Faculty Fellow, Associated Kyoto Program, Doshisha University, Kyoto, JAPAN
  • 1992-1997: Research Associate Professor, Dept. Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, USA
  • 1990-1992: Senior Lecturer in Marine Micropalaeontology, Department of Earth Sciences and Sub-department of Quaternary Research, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 1990-1992: University Fellow, New Hall College, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 1985-1990: Associate Research Scientist, Dept. Earth & Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, USA
  • 1989-1990: Chief Scientist, Thames Science Center, New London, CT, USA
  • 1984-1989: Adj. Assoc. Res. Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, USA
  • 1982-1984: Asst. Res. Geologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
  • 1979-1982: Faculty Research Associate, Department of Chemistry, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
  • 1975-1979: Instructor and Curator of Micropaleontological Collections, University of Utrecht, Netherlands EDUCATION Ph.D.


  • 2022: BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Climate Change, shared with J. C. Zachos
  • 2021: Wesleyan Prize for Excellence in Research
  • 2020: Joseph A. Cushman Medal for Excellence in Foraminiferal Research
  • 2019: Fellow of the Geological Society of America
  • 2018: Tsaihwa (James) Chow Lecturer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego CA, October 15-16
  • 2016: Brady Medal, The Micropalaeontologial Society
  • 2013: Association for Women Geoscientists Professional Excellence Award
  • 2012: Maurice Ewing Medal, American Geophysical Union and Ocean Naval Research
  • 2012: Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
  • 2011: Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Academic Affiliations

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