Program Director; Science and Global Change
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. is a dinosaur paleontologist and a senior lecturer in the department of geology. His primary research subject is the evolution and adaptations of the carnivorous dinosaurs, most especially the tyrant dinosaurs. He has also published on the effects of plate tectonics on the evolution of dinosaurs and their contemporaries, and on reconstructing the locomotion and predatory techniques of various fossil animals. During the 1990s, he was involved in the paleoclimate research laboratory of Thomas Cronin as part of PRISM: Pliocene Research, Interpretation, and Synoptic Mapping (a project to reconstruct global climates of 3 million years ago as a model of the last time in Earth history when the North Pole was ice free). For a more general audience, Holtz has written children's books on dinosaurs and was one of the primary consultants on the BBC/Discovery Channel TV series Walking with Dinosaurs and History Channel's Jurassic Fight Club.
Holtz has been with the department of geology since 1994, teaching classes on dinosaurs, paleontology, global change, and historical and environmental geology. He has received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the University Honors Program (in 1997), the Celebrating Teachers Award from the Center for Teaching Excellence (in 2003), and the Outstanding Instructor Award, College of Computer, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences (in 2005). In the fall of 1999 he and associate director John Merck began the College Park Scholars Earth, Life and Time program to promote the scientific understanding of the natural historical sciences among some of the University's most talented students. In the fall of 2009 Holtz and Merck revamped the program and launched it under a new name, Science and Global Change.