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Department of Geosciences
Fort Hays State University
600 Park Street
Tomanek Hall 233
Phone: 785-628-5389

P. Grady Dixon, Chair
(785) 628-5389
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Department of Geosciences - Faculty


Professor of Geosciences and Chief Curator of Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Office: Tomanek Hall, 241
Phone: 785-628-4041
Fax: 785-628-5389
Curriculum Vitae



Educational Background | Courses Taught | Research Interests & Specializations | Current Research
Recent Publications | Awards Received | Professional Memberships | Service Activities | Personal Interest

Educational Background

Ph. D. | 1968 | University of Michigan | Geology

M.S. | 1965 | University of Michigan | Geology

B.S. | 1963 | Wayne State University | Geology

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Geology
  • Scientific Writing
  • Vertebrate Paleontology - Paleontology of Lover Vertebrates and Paleontology of Higher Vertebrates
  • Invertebrate Paleontology
  • Paleobiology

Research Interests and Specializations

Mesozoic-Cenozoic Stratigraphy (Great Plains)

Systematic relationships of fossil rodents

Vertebrate Paleontology

Recent Publications

2008. Rodent community change at the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition in southwestern Kansas and identification of the Microtus immigration event on the central Great Plains. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, 267:196-207. (Martin, R.A., Pelaez-Campomanes, Honey, J.G., Fox, D.L., Zakrzewski, R.J., Albright, L.B., Lindsay, E.H., Opdyke, N.D., & Goodwin, H.T.

2006. Blancan Woodrats (Rodentia: Cricetidae) from the Meade Basin southwestern Kansas. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 26(supp to #3):143A.

see my vitae for more publications

Papers Accepted for Publication

Arvicolini (Rodentia) from the Irvingtonian of north-central Kansas. Charles A. Repenning Memorial Volume. Paleontologica Electronica, 24 p text; 7 tables; 6 figures. Zakrzewski, R.J. & Bever, G.S.

New species of Leptarctus (Carnivora; Mustelidae) from the Miocene of Kansas. Michael O. Woodburne Volume. Bever, G.S. & Zakrzewski, R.J.

Awards Received

State of Kansas Department of Administration, 40 Year Service Award, 2010

Graduate School Lifetime Achievement Award, 2008


Outstanding Thesis/Field Study Advisor Award, 2008


Dr. Richard J. Zakrzewski, Professor of Geosciences & Chief Curator of Sternberg Museum, received his Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in Geology from the University of Michigan; and a Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. Dr. Z (as his students fondly call him) joined the faculty at FHSU in 1969. He was promoted to associate professor in 1974 and professor in 1978.

"Rick has made substantial contributions in all areas. From 1967 to 2006, he has published more than 65 peer-reviewed papers and articles in the field of vertebrate paleontology. He has 42 years of experience in museum work and currently serves in the capacity as Chief curator and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Sternberg Museum. He has directed 30 MA theses and served on an additional 76 theses committees which probably is a record for a FHSU faculty member! In addition, he has served as interim department chair on several occasions, and has participated in numerous committees at the department, college and university levels. Notably, he has served on both college and university tenure committees. Rick is also an accomplished teacher. he's taught 19 different courses over the years both core and graduate level in Geosciences. He not only is a teacher but an advisor as well. His current and past students continually attest to the guidance and assistance provided by Rick. A great number of his graduate students have become very successful and renowned researchers in their own right. You can imagine the number of students he has touched with his expertise and knowledge by being a mentor and a teacher. It is clear to me that Rick has demonstrated meritorious scholarship in his discipline, and has enriched the university community with his teaching and service." - President Hammond, 2006

Professional Memberships

  • Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
  • Paleontological Society
  • American Society of Mammalogists
  • American Quaternary Association
  • Society of Systematic Biologists
  • Kansas Academy of Science
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science

Service Activities

Professional: I serve as a reviewer of paleontological articles for various journals and as an Associate Editor of Paleontology for Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science.

FHSU: I have, during my tenure served on over 40 standing and numerous ad hoc committees. I also serve as Acting Chair of the Department as needed.

Current Research

My primary research interests are the biostratigrahy of Neogene terrestrial deposits in the western US and the systematic relationships of fossil rodents with living relatives in North America.

I am currently studying the fossil woodrats and heteromyids from a number of Pliocene/Pleistocene sites in Meade Co., Kansas. This is part of a project that includes other scientists. We are trying to determine the development of rodent communities through time as well as the biostratigraphy and paleoclimate of the area.

I, along with Dr. G.S. Bever (FHSU MS 2001), are studying the fossils from a Pleistocene site in Smith Co., Kansas. We are trying to determine the kinds of animals that lived at the site and what they can tell us about the ecology, climate, and age. We also want to know how this site is related to other Pleistocene sites in North America.

I, along with Dr. S.C. Wallace (FHSU MS 1997), are studying the rodents from the Gray fossil site (Miocene) of eastern Tennessee.

DrZ-reasearch DrZ-sampleidentification

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