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Peter Wilf

Peter Wilf

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Professor of Geosciences & Adjunct Professor of Biology

537 Deike
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814)865-6721
Lab Address: 533 Deike


  1. Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1998
  2. B.A., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1985

Postdoc Training

  1. Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellow, 1998-1999

Honors and Awards

  1. Distinguished Member, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, 2014.
  2. George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, Pennsylvania State University, 2013.
  3. The Paleontological Society, Councilor Unrestricted, 2012-2014.
  4. Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, 2011.
  5. Distinguished Lecturer, The Paleontological Society, 2009-2012.
  6. David and Lucile Packard Fellow in Science and Engineering, 2005-2010.
  7. John T. Ryan, Jr. Faculty Fellow, Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, 2005-2008.
  8. Michigan Fellow, University of Michigan, 1999-2002.

Research Interests

Paleobotany and Global Change

I use fossil plants to investigate ancient ecosystems, past environmental change, and the evolution and extinction of plants and plant-insect associations. I emphasize questions with relevance for modern climate change, biodiversity, biogeography, and ecological processes. Significant field areas include Patagonia, Western Interior USA, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Panama, and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Selected Publications

Since 2012. Complete, current list here. †Student author.

Villar de Seoane L, NR Cúneo, I Escapa, P Wilf, MA Gandolfo. 2015. Ginkgoites patagonica (Berry) comb. nov. from the Eocene of Patagonia, last ginkgoalean record in South America. International Journal of Plant Sciences, in press.

Kooyman RM, Wilf P, Barreda, VD, Carpenter RJ, Jordan GJ, Sniderman JMK, Allen A, Brodribb TJ, Crayn D, Feild TS, Laffan SW, Lusk CH, Rossetto M, Weston PH. 2014. Paleo-Antarctic rainforest into the modern Old World tropics: the rich past and threatened future of the 'southern wet forest survivors.'  American Journal of Botany, v. 101, p. 2121-2135.

Wilf P, Escapa IH. 2014. Green Web or megabiased clock? Plant fossils from Gondwanan Patagonia speak on evolutionary radiations. New Phytologist, doi: 10.1111/nph.13114 (invited Tansley Insight).

Su T, P Wilf, H Xu, Z-K Zhou. 2014. Miocene leaves of Elaeagnus (Elaeagnaceae) from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, its modern center of diversity and endemism. American Journal of Botany, v. 101, p. 1350-1361.

Carpenter RJ, P Wilf, JG Conran, NR Cúneo. 2014. A Paleogene trans-Antarctic distribution for Ripogonum (Ripogonaceae: Liliales)? Palaeontologia Electronica, v. 17, article 17.3.39A, 9p.

Donovan† M, P Wilf, CC Labandeira, KR Johnson, DJ Peppe. 2014 Novel insect leaf-mining after the end-Cretaceous extinction and the demise of Cretaceous leaf miners, Great Plains, USA. PloS One, v. 9: e103542.

Little SA, WA Green, SL Wing, P Wilf. 2014. Reinvestigation of leaf rank, an underappreciated component of Leo Hickey’s legacy. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, v. 55, p. 79-87.

Carvalho† M.R., P. Wilf, H. Barrios, E.D. Currano, D.M. Windsor, C.A. Jaramillo, C.C. Labandeira. 2014. Insect leaf-chewing damage tracks herbivore richness in modern and ancient forests. PloS One, v. 9: e94950, 9 p.

Wilf P, IH Escapa, NR Cúneo, RM Kooyman, KR Johnson, A Iglesias. 2014. First South American Agathis (Araucariaceae), Eocene of Patagonia. American Journal of Botany, v. 101, p. 156-179.

Clyde WC, P Wilf, A Iglesias, RL Slingerland, T Barnum, PK Bijl, TJ Bralower, H Brinkhuis, EE Comer†, BT Huber, M Ibañez-Mejia, BR Jicha, JM Krause, JD Schueth, BS Singer, MS Raigemborn, MD Schmitz, A Sluijs, MC Zamaloa. 2014. New age constraints for the Salamanca Formation and lower Río Chico Group in the western San Jorge Basin, Patagonia, Argentina: implications for K/Pg extinction recovery and land mammal age correlations. Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 126, p. 289-306.

Cornwell WK, et al. (26 authors). 2014. Functional distinctiveness of major plant lineages. Journal of Ecology, v. 102, p. 345-356.

Elliott† SJ, P Wilf, RC Walter, DJ Merritts. 2013. Subfossil leaves reveal a new upland floral component of the pre-European Piedmont landscape, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. PloS One, v. 8, e79317, 26 p.

Knight† CL, P Wilf. 2013. Rare leaf fossils of Monimiaceae and Atherospermataceae (Laurales) from Eocene Patagonian rainforests and their biogeographic significance. Palaeontologia Electronica, v. 16, article 16.3.27A, 39 p.

Macphail M, RJ Carpenter, A Iglesias, P Wilf. 2013. First fossil evidence for Wollemi Pine-type pollen (Dilwynites: Araucariaceae) in South America. PloS One, 8: e69281, 8 p.

Carvalho† MR, P Wilf, MA Gandolfo, EJ Hermsen, KR Johnson, NR Cúneo. 2013. First record of Todea (Osmundaceae) in South America, from the early Eocene paleorainforests of Laguna del Hunco (Patagonia, Argentina). American Journal of Botany, v. 100, p. 1831-1848.

Wilf P, NR Cúneo, IH Escapa, D Pol, MO Woodburne. 2013. Splendid and seldom isolated: the paleobiogeography of Patagonia. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, v. 41, p. 561-603.

Barreda VD, NR Cúneo, P Wilf, ED Currano, RA Scasso, H Brinkhuis. 2012. Cretaceous/Paleogene floral turnover in Patagonia: drop in diversity, low extinction, and a Classopollis spike. PLoS One, v. 7, e52455 (8 p.).

Wilf P. 2012. Rainforest conifers of Eocene Patagonia: attached cones and foliage of the extant southeast-Asian and Australasian genus Dacrycarpus (Podocarpaceae). American Journal of Botany, v. 99, p. 562-584 (cover article).

Sauquet H, SYW Ho, MA Gandolfo, GJ Jordan, P Wilf, DJ Cantrill, M Bayly, L Bromham, G Brown, RJ Carpenter, DM Lee, D Murphy, JMK Sniderman, F Udovicic. 2012. Testing the impact of calibration on molecular divergence times using a fossil-rich group: the case of Nothofagus (Fagales). Systematic Biology, v. 61, p. 289-313 (cover article).