The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837. Key in this effort is to celebrate the intellectual life of the University. This Faculty History Website is intended as a component of the effort to document the extraordinary academic achievements of Michigan’s faculty in building and sustaining one of the world’s great universities. It provides access to a comprehensive database of information concerning the thousands of faculty members who have served the University of Michigan.
Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.


Gerald Smith
Regents' Proceedings 346

Gerald R. Smith, Ph.D., curator of the Museum of Zoology, curator of the Museum of Paleontology, professor of geological sciences, and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, will retire from active faculty status on June 30, 2003.

Professor Smith received his B.S. (1957) and M.S. (1959) degrees from the University of Utah, and his Ph.D. degree (1965) from the University of Michigan. He taught at the University of Utah (1963-65) and the University of Kansas (1965-69) before joining the University of Michigan faculty as an assistant professor and assistant curator in 1969. He was promoted to associate professor and associate curator in 1972, curator in 1973, and professor in 1981. He served as director of the Museum of Paleontology (1973-81), director of the Museum of Zoology (1998-00 and 2001-02), and director of the Herbarium (1999-03).

Professor Smith's classes bridged the fields of evolutionary biology and earth history, and included vertebrate paleontology, biogeography, fish behavior, fish adaptation, and animal diversity. He chaired or co-chaired 23 doctoral committees. His research focused on the evolution of freshwater fishes of North America, primarily fossil fishes that lived in western North America over the past 6 million years.

He authored or co-authored 82 research papers, 3 books, and numerous other publications. Professor Smith was among the first to apply quantitative methods of analysis to fish biogeography, phylogenetic history, morphometrics, rates of evolution, and environmental reconstruction using stable isotopes of annual growth rings in fish otoliths. He and his students analyzed the significance of fish evolution in ancient lakes and rivers of the Great Basin and Columbia River Basin, and he established phylogenetic relationships of salmon and trout, whitefish, minnows, and suckers.

The Regents salute this distinguished scholar by naming Gerald R. Smith curator emeritus of the Museum of Zoology, curator emeritus of the Museum of Paleontology, professor emeritus of geological sciences, and professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology.