Michael Chiappone

Lago Vista, Texas

"Science is certainly a rigorous and complex field, but it’s the creativity of the process, from field work to research to education, that really drives me. "

Michael grew up exploring a variety of towns throughout North and Central Texas, seeking adventure in Nature. He sought to read the stories of the rocks he walked upon and understand the complex connections between the organisms he shared the world with. He has often channeled this passion for science through art and film, helping to extend the stories he has learned about the past and present of our planet to others.

As a first generation college student, Michael pursued his passion for nature through a geology degree at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in vertebrate paleontology. He has conducted research in Dr. Julia Clarke's lab that aims to understand how birds evolved to vocalize the way they do today, and how that might have shaped soundscapes of the distant past.

Moving forward, Michael aims to continue delving into deep time through a graduate degree, using his creative nature to hone his skills in interdisciplinary paleontological research and public education.

My Pathway

I've always had a deep connection to nature and the world around me, so wanting to study the inner workings of our biosphere and its history has been my goal in life since I was very young. I sought adventure exploring local natural wonders and seeing those from further away in zoos, museums, and countless books and other storytelling media.

My primary research interest lies in vertebrate paleontology, and I specifically work on understanding the evolution of vocalization in birds in Dr. Julia Clarke's research lab. More specifically, I've investigated the syrinx (the unique vocal organ of birds) in group of birds called paleognaths, which includes the ostrich, cassowary, and kiwi, among others. While the data I work on is decidedly modern, the implications of the evolution of this structure in modern animals go all the way back to their ancient ancestors, such as the dinosaurs! The geosciences are inherently interdisciplinary, and we creatively bring together almost every other field of science together to better understand our planet, from biology to physics.

My passion for nature has also made me excited to help people understand and want to protect the natural world that we rely on so heavily in a time where humanity's relationship with our planet is increasingly fraught. For me, this is yet another way to put my creativity to work, creating paleoart and educational short films that aim to capture people's imaginations and communicate scientific concepts and the ways earth history connects to human impacts on our environment today. I hope not only to bring ancient ecosystems back to life, but to help people better appreciate the landscapes that millions of years of time and evolution have built all around us.

Visions of Deep Time Through Art

A family of Convolosaurus dinosaurs are disturbed by a small marauding crocodylomorph, Tarsomordeo. (Art by Michael Chiappone)

A bizarre, shark-like Aquilolamna passes overhead in the Cretaceous open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. (Art by Michael Chiappone)

A pair of Brontosaurus and their entourage of pterosaurs stride across a fern prairie while a nighttime storm brews in the distance, inspired by specialized night vision wildlife photography. (Art by Michael Chiappone)

The surprising thing is...

Creativity is one of the best tools in a scientist's arsenal! While science is sometimes portrayed as sterile and unimaginative, creativity is an important part of the process from data collection through education.


  • Science is an inherently creative endeavor, allowing us to see scientific questions from brand new angles and to better convey our research and its importance to the public at large.

Contact Me!

If you want to learn more about my experiences in geosciences and have any questions, let me know!