Jingmai Kathleen O’Connor

Current Position

Associate Curator of Fossil Reptiles (2020 – present)
The Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60605

Born: August 26, 1983, Los Angeles, California.
Citizenship: American
Marital Status: Married


University of Southern California(USC), PhD in Geological Sciences, 2009.
Advisors David Bottjer (USC) and Luis Chiappe (LACM). Dissertation title: A Systematic Review of Enantiornithes (Aves: Ornithothoraces)

Occidental College, BA in Earth Sciences, 2004. Undergraduate thesis title (under Donald Prothero and Xiaoming Wang, LACM): New specimen of the Miocene mustelid Sthenictis from the Miocene of Inner Mongolia, China


Research Associate, The Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (2009 – present)

Adjunct Professor, Lingyi University (2013 to present)

Editorial Board Member, Scientific Reports (2014 to present)

Research Associate, Tomsk University, Russia (2014 to 2015)

Adjunct Professor, University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2018 to present)

Honorary Reader, The University of Witwatersrand, South Africa (2016 to present)

Research Associate, American Museum of Natural History, New York (2020 – present)

Awards, Honors, Grants and Fellowships

2003. Richter Undergraduate Research Grant, Occidental College. 

2004. Avery China Adventure Recipient.

2004, 2006. Keck Fellow. University of Southern California.

2007. Graduate Professionalism Initiative Grant, University of Southern California.

2007. Explorer’s Club Research Grant.

2008. East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute participant, National Science Foundation.

2010, 2012. Fellowship for Young International Scientists, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

2011. Research Fund for International Young Scientists, from the National Natural 

Science Foundation of China (No. 41050110438).

2011. National Geographic Waitt Grant: Hunting for Jurassic Dinosaurs in Western Mongolia.

2012-2014. National Natural Science Foundation of China research grant, Ontogeny and phylogeny of Mesozoic birds (No. 41102009). 

2013. Award for outstanding paper published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology for, “A redescription of Chaoyangia beishanensis (Aves) and a comprehensive phylogeny of Mesozoic birds.”

2014. IVPP Research grant, Ecological evolution of mesozoic birds (No. KN214404).

2015. IVPP Research grant, Archaeopteryx and a better understanding of early avian evolution (No. KN205509)

2019. Chinese Paleontological Association Award for Top 10 Discoveries of 2018.

2019. The Charles Schuchert Award, Paleontological Society 

2019. Outstanding achievements in scientific research in 2019, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

Teaching Experience

2003. Introduction to Field Methods. Occidental College. Under-graduate course. Spring Semester. Title: Teaching Assistant. 

2007. Guest Speaker on “The origin of flight.” Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. Graduate course (Paleobiology; Instructors: David Hone and Corwin Sullivan).

2004/5, 2008. Crises of a Planet. University of Southern California. Under-graduate course. Title: Teaching Assistant. 

2009 – present. Official and unofficial supervision of Master and PhD student projects (IVPP, unofficial supervision of Wang Min, Zhou Shuang, Wang Wei, Li Dongsheng, Zhao Tao, and Wang Yaming)

2018 – present. Comparative Vertebrate Osteology. University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Under-graduate, Master’s and PhD course. Title: Professor (responsible for lectures on non-dinosaurian archosaurs).

2019. Guest Speaker on “The origin of dinosaurian flight and early avian diversity.” Sino-German Field School, Yizhou Sino-German Paleontological Museum (organized by the Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt, Germany). 

Students [Officially] Supervised 

Hu Han, IVPP. September 2013 – 2017. Co-supervised with Zhou Zhonghe. PhD thesis title: Skull and other character evolution of Early Cretaceous birds of China.

Luis Vega-Jorquera, Universidad de Chile. September 2016 – present. Co-supervised with Alexander Vargas. MSc thesis title pending. 

Liu Shumin, IVPP. September 2018 – present. Co-supervised with Li Zhiheng. Master’s thesis title pending.

Wu Qian, IVPP. September 2018 – present. Co-supervised with Li Zhiheng. PhD thesis title pending.

Field Work in Paleontology

Inner Mongolia, China. Summer 2003. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology expedition to prospect and screen-wash for mammals in Neogene deposits.

Montana, USA. Summer 2003, 2006. Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History expedition prospecting and quarrying in the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation. 

Qinghai, Gansus, Xingjiang, China. Summer 2005. Prospecting for mammals in Neogene deposits identified by oil geologists in the 1950’s. 

Utah, USA. Summer 2007. The University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Southern Utah Dinosaur Expedition prospecting in the Kaipaorwits Formation in Grand Staircase Escalante. Expedition Leader. 

Xinjiang, China. Summer 2010. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology expedition prospecting for dinosaurs in the Jurassic Shishugou Formation in the Junggar Basin.

Mongolia. Summer 2011. American Museum of Natural History expedition prospecting for Cretaceous dinosaurs and lizards and Paleogene mammals.

Gansu Province, China. Spring 2014. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology expedition quarrying for Early Cretaceous birds in the Xiagou Formation.

Free State, South Africa. Winter 2016, 2017. University of Witswatersrand expedition prospecting and quarrying in Jurassic deposits collecting dinosaurs and mammals.

Alberta, Canada. Summer 2016. Phil J. Currie Dinosaur Museum and University of Alberta expedition prospecting in Cretaceous deposits in the Grand Prairie region (PJC Dinosaur Museum, University of Alberta).

Romania. Summer 2017, 2019. American Museum of Natural History expedition prospecting and quarrying in Cretaceous deposits in the Hateg Basin and near Sebes.

Work Experience

2003. Field assistant, paleomagnetics research. D. Prothero, Occidental College.

2003.Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Field Methods. Occidental College. 

2004/5, 2008.Teaching Assistant, Crises of a Planet. University of Southern California. 

2009 – 2013.Post-doctoral researcher, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing, China.

2013 – 2015.Vice Professor, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing, China.


2008-9. Senator for Department of Geological Sciences, Graduate Student Senate, University of Southern California.

2008, 2009, 2018, 2019. Independent outreach, elementary and high school level.

2016. CAS SELF (Science Education Life Future) talk: Fascinating early birds.

2018. PBS documentary, When Whales Walked (bird segment, filmed in China). Premiered June 19, 2019.

2018. CAS SELF documentary (airing 2019).

2019. Women in STEM documentary (Science Friday). 

Additional Skills

Preparation, illustration and field excavation of fossil vertebrates

Experienced with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and Microsoft Office

Knowledgable in PAUP, TNT, and Mesquite

Moderate spoken Chinese; beginner written Chinese; beginner spoken Japanese


Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2003 to present)

Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution (2005 to present)

Paleontological Society (2018 to present)

Palaeontological Association (2018 to present)