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Larisa DeSantis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Vertebrate Paleontologist, Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow, and Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. DeSantis earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (B.S.), Yale University (M.E.M.), and the University of Florida (Ph.D.).  Through the study of fossil mammals, she determines how they responded to ancient climate change, potential reasons why they went extinct, and the long-term consequences of both climate change and large animal extinctions on a diversity of plants and animals—including predators and their prey. 

DeSantis is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, conducts research on all continents except Antarctica, and the majority of her work is explicitly aimed at helping conservationists better understand ecosystems—past and present.

When DeSantis is not in the laboratory, field, or classroom, she is involved in scientific and public outreach in her local community and as the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) Distinguished Lecturer for North America and member-at-large of the Executive Committee.  DeSantis has published more than 50 papers and book chapters, and her work has been featured on Curiosity Stream (Saber-tooth Brawl, Lucha Entre Dientes de Sable, Top Science Stories of 2019), National Geographic Wild (Future Cats), the Discovery Channel, podcasts, and has received global news coverage.

Learn more about her story: Outreach