Science Museum of Minnesota welcomes first Barbara Brown Chair of Ornithology

Dr. Catherine Early joins the Science Museum from the Florida Museum of Natural History and the University of Florida
January 29, 2020

Media Contact:
Karilyn Robinson Marketing and Public Relations Specialist, (651) 221-9412

Saint Paul, Minn. – This May, the Science Museum of Minnesota will welcome Dr. Catherine Early to its Center of Research and Collections as the first Barbara Brown Chair of Ornithology. The chair position was endowed from a $2 million gift to the Science Museum in 2018—the largest endowed gift in the museum’s history.

As the chair of ornithology, Early will direct the museum’s biology department, including curating its biological collection comprised of thousands of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants. In addition to conducting research and fieldwork and collaborating with other scientists at museums across the country, she will build on the Science Museum’s existing avian collection, which includes extinct species, endangered species, historic specimens, several hundred salvaged study specimens of songbirds and raptors, and skeletons for comparative anatomy and identification.

Early’s main research interest is the cranial anatomy of modern day and fossil birds, and how it reflects their behavior and ecology. She comes to the museum from a postdoctoral researcher position at the Florida Museum of Natural History and the University of Florida.

“We are so excited to have Dr. Early bring her expertise and depth of knowledge in neuroanatomy and function of birds to the museum’s Center of Research and Collections,” Dr. Laurie Fink, chair of Science at the Science Museum of Minnesota, said. “In addition to her specialization in ornithology, her experience in biology and ecology and the preservation and digitization of natural history collections will provide us with many opportunities for collaboration.”

Early did her Ph.D. work in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Ohio University, supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, and earned her undergraduate degrees in Biological Science and Spanish Language and Literature at North Carolina State University. She is a member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

The Science Museum of Minnesota has a 113-year history of bringing science learning to life through hands-on exhibits, giant screen films, and unparalleled educational opportunities that reach people in Minnesota and around the nation each year. For museum information, call (651) 221-9444 or visit

Dr. Catherine Early


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