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Paul L. Koch is a paleontologist and geochemist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he is a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Dean of Physical and Biological Sciences. Before moving to UCSC, Paul was an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton (1993-1996). He held postdoctoral positions shared between the Department of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution and the Geophysical Laboratory, part of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (1989-1993). In 1998 he received the Charles Schuchert Award from the Paleontological Society, and he is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the California Academy of Sciences. A native of the humid, flood-prone backwoods of Pennsylvania, Paul received a B.A. in Geological Sciences and English at the University of Rochester in 1982, and a M.S. (1985) and Ph.D. (1989) from the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Paul studies the ecology of vertebrates (past and present), which he most often reconstructs using biogeochemical methods. He investigates how animal ecology influences their evolution and extinction, and in recent years, he has focused on how insights from the fossil record can inform conservation biology. Another large thread of his research is continental paleoclimatology, with information gleaned through geochemical analysis of ancient soils and fossils. He is the author of more than 125 papers. He has worked on a wide variety of organisms (e.g., Pleistocene and early Cenozoic land mammals, marine mammals, carnivores, naked mole rats, lemurs, condors, crocodilians, sharks, mollusks, land plants) and has done field work in North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Antarctica (and holds out hope for Europe and Australia).