Expert Guides

Our tour guides are experts drawn from the fields of geology, science communication and history. Many are practising geologists and academics with extensive experience of research and education.

Paul Olsen


Paul Olsen is a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, New York, is a research associate at a number of museums, including New York’s American Museum of Natural History, has been given the Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award and the Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science, and is a member of the United States National Academy of Science.

His interest in geology, and paleontology and dinosaurs, in particular, was evident when, as a teen in New Jersey, he and a friend found dinosaur footprints. They led a successful campaign to have the site preserved, and the Riker Hill Fossil Park is now a National Natural Landmark, for which Olsen was given a Presidential Commendation by Richard Nixon.

Paul is a broadly trained paleontologist and geologist. His research focuses on the impact of climate change over geological time scales on the evolution of continental ecosystems, the influence of variations of the Earth's orbit on climate and sedimentation, and the effects of evolutionary innovations on biogeochemical cycles. Other projects include analysis of the mass extinction 202 million years ago that set up the dominance of the dinosaurs, and excavations at major fossil vertebrate sites throughout North America, Morocco, and China.

Paul has appeared in many documentaries on the history of life, climate, and environmental change.

Having a deep interest in in the fine arts, he worked his way through college as a graphic artist and painter, while his passion for the “Dawn of the Age of Dinosaurs” expresses itself through many scientific and popular fieldtrips from North Carolina to Nova Scotia, the western US, and Morocco.


  • M. Phil. and Ph.D. in biology, Yale University, 1984
  • B.A. in geology, Yale University, 1978