Portrait of David Varricchio

David Varricchio

Dave Varricchio, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences in the College of Letters and Science, received the Cox Faculty Award for Creative Scholarship and Teaching. The award comes with a $2,000 honorarium.

Varricchio, whose research into paleobiology touches on the reproductive, burrowing and herding behavior in a variety of dinosaurs, oversees the paleontology degree program, one of the largest programs in the diverse Earth Sciences department.

“Dr. Varricchio has substantially contributed to the legacy of dinosaur research in this region, started many decades ago by Dr. Jack Horner,” stated a nominating letter from his department. “[He] has elevated Montana State University’s international visibility even higher in the incredibly popular field of dinosaur paleontology.”

Varricchio received a doctorate in biology from MSU in 1995 and returned to the university to join the faculty in 2002. Though he single-handedly manages the entire teaching and advising load for a quarter of the Earth Sciences undergraduate students, Varricchio has also published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers, including some in top journals such as Science, Nature, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and Palaios.

To underscore his commitment, the letter goes on to explain that Varricchio teaches every course required for the paleontology degree option and all of the paleontology graduate courses offered at MSU. And Varricchio developed all but one of these courses during his tenure, including those in geobiology, paleo lab techniques and dinosaur reproduction.

“This represents an enormous teaching and research workload for a team of faculty members in paleontology, let alone one person,” the letter stated. “Dr. Varricchio constructed the paleontology instructional program at Montana State University from the ground up, making MSU one of best places in the world for undergraduate and graduate studies in dinosaur paleontology.”