Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Photo of Plotnick, Roy E.

Roy E. Plotnick, PhD

Professor Emeritus

Invertebrate Paleobiology and Paleontology, Ecology

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Building & Room:

2454 SES


845 West Taylor St.

Office Phone:

(312) 996-2111

Related Sites:


Multi-faceted scientist with interests in Invertebrate paleobiology, mathematical methods and models, Anthropocene ecological change, and science education and outreach. I use a wide range of analytical and experimental methods.

Research Areas:
Invertebrate paleontology, Paleobiomechanics, Taphonomy, Trace fossils, Landscape ecology, Macroevolutionary patterns, Earth science education

Selected Grants

National Science Foundation, Geopaths-Impacts: Establishing Partnerships to Recruit Geoscience Undergraduates from Urban Chicago, Co-Principal Investigator

Selected Publications

Plotnick, R. E., F. A. Smith, and S. K. Lyons. 2016. Fossil record of the Sixth Extinction. Ecology Letters. 19(5): 546-553.

Plotnick, R. E. 2017. Recurrent hierarchical patterns and the fractal distribution of fossil localities. Geology 45(4):295-298.

Wagner, P., R. E. Plotnick, and S. K. Lyons. 2018. Evidence for trait-based dominance in occupancy among fossil taxa and the decoupling of macroecological and macroevolutionary success. The American Naturalist 192(3): E120-E138.

Hsieh, S., Schassburger, A., and Plotnick, R. E. 2019. The modern and fossil record of farming behavior. Paleobiology. 45(3):395-404.

Plotnick, R. E., and P. Wagner. 2018. The greatest hits of all time: the histories of dominant genera in the fossil record. Paleobiology:

Plotnick, R. E., and K. A. Koy. 2020. The Anthropocene fossil record of terrestrial mammals. Anthropocene 29:100233.

Pasterski, M. J., A. Bellagamba, S. Chancellor, A. Cunje, E. Dodd , K. Gefeke, S. Hsieh, A. Schassburger, A. Smith, W. Tucker, and R. E. Plotnick. 2020. Aquatic landscape change, extirpations, and introductions in the Chicago Region. Urban Ecosystems.

Hsieh, S., and R. E. Plotnick. 2020. The representation of animal behaviour in the fossil record. Animal Behaviour 169:65-80.

Plotnick, R. 2021. Devonian eurypterids from Indiana and Pennsylvania. Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan 33(2): 5-16.

Plotnick, R. 2022. Explorers of Deep Time: Paleontologists and the History of Life. Columbia University Press. New York. 334 pp.

Professional Leadership

Co-chair, Development Committee, Paleontological Society

Chair, Employment Committee, Paleontological Society

Notable Honors

2005-2008, Distinguished Lecturer, Paleontological Society

2012, Fellow, Paleontological Society

2013, Fellow, Geological Society of America

2017, Edward P Bass Distinguished Environmental Visiting Scholar, Yale Department of Geology and Geophysics


AB, 1976, Columbia University

MS, 1978, University of Rochester

PhD., 1983, University of Chicago