Bob Campbell Geology Museum’s new curator is thinking big
CLEMSON — A seasoned paleontologist with international experience has been named curator at the Bob Campbell Geology Museum (BCGM), which is located on the grounds of the South Carolina Botanical Garden at Clemson University.
Adam Smith was brought in to improve and expand the museum. Smith will be responsible for managing the geological and paleontological collections and exhibits at the museum, as well as leading in-house tours and off-campus field trips to collect new specimens. Smith has been tasked with enhancing linkages between Clemson faculty and students, as well as increasing museum attendance and membership.
“Much like the Upstate itself, the Bob Campbell Geology Museum is a real hidden gem,” said Smith, who most recently was a postdoctoral fellow at the Field Museum in Chicago and a research affiliate at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “The ever-growing BCGM collection currently includes more than 10,000 mineral and fossil specimens from South Carolina and from around the world. Part of my job is to ensure that these invaluable resources are available to researchers, utilized by students and teachers, and enjoyed by the public.”
Interestingly, Thomas Green Clemson, the founder of Clemson Agricultural College, had a significant interest in geology, and he even named a variety of minerals in a scientific journal back in the mid-1800s.
“There’s a long, storied history of geological work tied to Clemson, and we have plans to expand on this by enlarging and updating our collections for both the public displays that are featured in the museum, as well as the research side,” said Smith, who also was a postdoctoral researcher at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center at Duke University. “Our research will be focused initially on the Carolinas, but over time I have colleagues whom we’ll be partnering with internationally to bring fossils to Clemson from distant and exotic places.”
Now in its 12th year, the museum has hosted tens of thousands of visitors from South Carolina, the rest of the United States and around the world. Admission to the museum is free and guided tours are available at minimal expense.
“South Carolina has a wealth of largely unexplored paleontological resources,” said Smith, who is a vertebrate paleontologist with a broad interest in the evolution of birds. “I will be leading excursions to expand the museum’s collection and to supply new specimens for exhibits focused on extinct species from South Carolina.”
Smith has presented his research and done fieldwork across the United States and around the world.
“Although I have lived and worked all over the globe, I am originally from the Carolinas, and so being at Clemson is a true homecoming for me,” Smith said. “The many friends and colleagues I have made in various places will be integral to implementing the big plans we have for future growth at the BCGM.”