Judy Terry smith

Copyright Paleontological Research Institution

Dr. Judy Terry Smith is a research associate in paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, where she works on late Miocene Caribbean mollusks of the ancient Gulf of California. Her research involves identifying these fossil species within the context of rock layers shaped by the movements of tectonic plates along a plate boundary, and applying the data to the evolution of the ancient gulf. She received her bachelor’s degrees from Barnard College and her master’s and doctoral degrees in geology from Stanford University in the 1960s, when female paleontologists were rare and had few opportunities for employment or academic scholarships. In 1964, she and two others were the first women allowed to attend Stanford’s Summer Field Geology course.

After a National Research Council/USGS Postdoctoral Research Associateship to study giant pectinid scallops, she began her current project on the Cenozoic marine mollusks of Baja California, Mexico. In 2018, she participated in a video about the Smithsonian’s digitizing program for EPICC, the Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoic.