Paul Brinkman

Head, History of Science Research Lab

121 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601


  • Ph.D. in History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota, 2005
  • B.A. in History and Geology, Augustana College, 1991


  • Research Assistant Professor, Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, N.C. State University
  • Library Research Associate, The Field Museum

Research Interests

Dr. Brinkman is a historian of science specializing in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century geology and vertebrate paleontology, especially in the American West. He is also interested in the spread of science from Europe to the New World; the trans-Atlantic exchanges of specimens and ideas; and the life and work of Charles Darwin, his contemporaries, and their contributions to geology, paleontology, and biogeography. Of particular interest is the question of what Darwin did during the voyage of HMS Beagle and how this influenced his thinking about the mutability of species.

His approach to history of science is largely sociological: science was what scientists did. He writes narrative accounts of scientific events, which reconstruct scientific practice – what they did, how they did it, and how this affected their results. He tries to practice what he calls "hands-on" history as much as possible. Likewise, he aspires to write the kind of micro-historical narrative that places the reader in the boots of the naturalist, with a Marsh pick or a plant press in hand.

Finally, he plays an integral role in research on fossils at the Museum, which has a thriving field program in terrestrial vertebrates of the Triassic. He collects new fossil vertebrate specimens in the field. He prepares them in the lab. And he participates in the study and description of specimens. He also teaches paleontology lab and field techniques to volunteers, students, interns, etc.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Brinkman, P. 2010. The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush: Museums & Paleontology in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  • Brinkman, P. 2010. "Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage, fossil vertebrate succession, and the gradual birth & death of species." Journal of the History of Biology 43(1): 363–399.
  • Brinkman, P. 2009. "Dinosaurs, museums, and the modernization of American fossil preparation at the turn of the 20th century." Methods in Fossil Preparation: Proceedings of the First Annual Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium 21–34.
  • Brinkman, P. 2009. "Frederic Ward Putnam, Chicago’s cultural philanthropists, and the founding of the Field Museum. Museum History Journal 2(1): 73–100.
  • Brinkman, P. 2005. Henry Fairfield Osborn and Jurassic dinosaur reconnaissance in the San Juan Basin, along the Colorado-Utah border, 1893–1900. Earth Sciences History 24(2): 159–174.

Fields of Research

  • History of Science


  • History of Science Research Lab