Who’s Who in the Sciences

Leon Claessens, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology

Leon Claessens, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, catches evolutionary change in the act by comparing fossils with living animals. From dinosaurs to birds to crocodiles, he studies the adaptation of breathing mechanisms that have allowed animals to capture more oxygen and become more active. His research has been published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature and received wide media attention. “I like contributing to a greater understanding of life on earth,” Claessens says. “Whether I’m conducting research or advising students, I’m advancing understanding of living organisms and scientific issues.” He also involves students in his lab and in his fieldwork excavating dinosaurs and other fossils at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.