The academic community remembers paleobotanical leader Thomas N. Taylor

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas community mourns the death of professor and curator Thomas N. Taylor. He died April 28 at his home in Lawrence. He was 78 years old.

“Professor Taylor’s important work in his field is a source of pride for our university, and we are saddened to learn of his passing,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “On behalf of the entire university community, I offer my deepest condolences to his colleagues, friends and family. We will miss him.”

Taylor was the Roy A. Roberts Professor Emeritus of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He has also served as Curator of Paleobotany for the University’s Biodiversity Institute and Museum of Natural History.

Taylor’s research has focused on Antarctic paleobiology, fossil fungi, fossil plants, as well as the origin and evolution of land plants and the colonization of land.

During her more than 20 years at KU, Taylor has made outstanding contributions to the university and has shared many creative insights and valuable insights with her colleagues in ecology and evolutionary biology, said Chris Haufler, department chairman.

“He brought us together as a united department, and we owe him a great debt for his vision, his commitment to excellence and his incredible energy,” Haufler said. “He leaves an immense legacy through his research and leadership locally, nationally and internationally. Our heartfelt and heartfelt condolences go out to Edie and the other members of Tom’s family.

Tom Taylor, along with his colleague and wife, Edith Taylor, brought world-class paleobotany to KU and the Biodiversity Institute, said institute director Leonard Krishtalka.

“Instantly, this established us as a global center for research and collections on the evolution of plants and fungi in Antarctica 350 million years ago, when Antarctica was a warm, forested continent,” Krishtalka said. .

Taylor’s studies, based on numerous expeditions he led to Antarctica, have revolutionized knowledge of how and when plants first spread on land and across vast continents, Krishtalka said.

“To quote Isaac Newton, all current and future students of paleobotany and plant evolution on Earth will stand on Tom Taylor’s shoulders,” Krishtalka said.

Carl Lejuez, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said: “Professor Taylor’s legacy will be remembered at the university and among scholars around the world for years to come. My deepest condolences go out to his friends and loved ones. »

A memorial celebration will be held at 3 p.m. on June 11 at the KU Museum of Natural History.