Robert Reisz

Robert Reisz
Place of Birth: 
First Year Employed at UTM/U of T: 
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I have been a devoted member of this campus for more than four decades and have grown along with it.

Maintaining a high level of inquisitiveness and asking interesting scientific questions are the hallmarks of a good researcher.

Robert Reisz

Distinguished University Professor Robert Reisz, a vertebrate paleontologist, has been a member of the UTM faculty for 42 years and there’s no end in sight.

“As long as my body and mind hold up and I can perform according to my own standards, I’ll keep going,” he says.

Reisz’s standards are high, and they have led to major accomplishments in research, teaching and administration. Currently UTM’s vice-dean, graduate, he oversees all graduate activity, both in the research stream and the professional stream, and interacts with his counterparts at the other two U of T campuses, which he calls a “cool job”.

“It deals with issues related to graduate studies and that is close to my heart,” Reisz says. “How do we improve the graduate student experience here on this campus?”

He loves working with graduate students and involves them in his research so that “there’s a continuity between between their research programs and mine,” he says. “I collaborate and train them at the same time. It leads to a synergy that benefits all. After they graduate and develop their own careers, we continue to interact and collaborate.”

Reisz’s research focuses on “vertebrate evolution writ large,” homing in on the period 315 to 270 million years ago when “terrestrial vertebrates came to dominate the landscape for the first time.” His work has broadened the scope of knowledge about this chapter of vertebrate evolution, but he has also tackled such topics as dinosaur embryology and growth, and patterns of dental evolution in creatures from lungfish to mammals.

He also enjoys teaching, noting that he generally tries “to convey my excitement and love of biology and evolution to students, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. I do my best to contribute to UTM as an instructor.”

In return, Reisz says, “I’ve had wonderful support from my department throughout the years and that makes it great to be here.”


Selected Awards:

Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, awarded 2006-2008,

Distinguished Professor at UTM, the institution’s highest teaching honour, 2014.

Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (2009), awarded to


Selected Publications:

LeBlanc, ARH, Reisz, R.R., Brink, K.S., Abdala, F. (2016) Mineralized periodontia in extinct relatives of mammals shed light on the evolutionary history of mineral homeostasis in periodontal tissue maintenance. Journal of Clinical Periodontology doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12508. This paper connects dental tissues in living and extinct animals on the mammalian side of evolution.

Reisz, R.R., Evans, D.C., Roberts, E.M., Sues, H.D., Yates, A.M. (2012) Oldest known dinosaurian nesting site and the reproductive biology of the Early Jurassic sauropodomorph Massospondylus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 109:2428-2433. Explains how the sauropodormoph dinosaur Massopondylus nested and reproduced.

Fröbisch, N.B. and Reisz, R.R. (2012) A new species of dissorophid (Cacops woehri) from the Lower Permian Dolese Quarry, near Richards Spur, Oklahoma, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32:35-44, Discovery and description of a previously unknown species of vertebrate.