Current position: Senior Research Associate, L. H. Bailey Hortorium, Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University
410 Mann Library
(607) 255-1536/ (607) 255-2131
(607) 255-5407
Lab website: Gandolfo Lab
Department website: Maria Gandolfo Nixon


I became interested in paleobotany because it is a stimulating specialty that embraces mechanisms of evolution, the reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships, and the application of species concepts. As a paleobotanist, one visualizes the past through the fossils and then extrapolates the information obtained from them to the present day biota. At the same time, a sound understanding of morphology, anatomy, and systematics of extant taxa helps to form our understanding of extinct taxa. The study of fossils also involves the interaction of multiple disciplines related directly and indirectly to botany. In addition to the obviously related areas such as morphology, systematics, and nomenclature, the fields of biogeography, ecology, geology and climatology are integral to paleobotany. My research involves the biological aspects of the fossils, including their phylogeny and relationships to modern taxa.

ONGOING RESEARCH PROJECTS: With my colleagues from Cornell University, Dr. W. L. Crepet and Dr. K. C. Nixon, I am currently working on the description of fossilized ferns, gymnosperms, and flowering plants of the Cretaceous flora of the Raritan Formation, New Jersey. In this work we have utilized not only traditional methods (description and comparison of the fossils with extant materials), but as described above we also have included the fossils in phylogenetic analyses and when possible, have proposed reconstructions of the whole plants.

I am working in Cretaceous and Tertiary floras of Patagonia with colleagues from the Egidio Feruglio Museum, Trelew, and Laboratorio de Paleobotánica y Palinología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. These projects include the study of floras of Barremian-Aptian age ( Flora of the Baqueró Group ), Campanian-Maastrichtian age (Flora of the La Colonia Formation), and one flora deposited during the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum (Flora of the Laguna del Hunco Formation). When these projects are complete, our understanding of the floristic composition, in combination with a better comprehension of distribution patterns and migration routes of Patagonian Cretaceous and Tertiary floras, will provide data for those researchers interested in the relationships of climate, flora and paleobiogeography of the Southern Hemisphere. This work is related directly to my other lines of research, since it will contribute to the knowledge of the origin of the angiosperms, and particularly their early diversification in the Southern Hemisphere.


1994 - Ph.D. (Botany) Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
(Dissertation: Evolution of the genus Nothofagus Blume based on foliar morphology)
1986 - M.S. (Biology) Universidad Centro de Altos Estudios en Ciencias Exactas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
(Thesis: A new species fossil of the genus Akania (Akaniaceae) from Paleocene sediments of Patagonia; Summa Cum Laude)
1983 - B.S. (Biology) Universidad Centro de Altos Estudios en Ciencias Exactas, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Asociación Paleontológica Argentina
American Society of Plant Taxonomists
Botanical Society of America
International Organization of Paleobotany
Latin-American Society of Paleobotany and Palynology
Paleogene of South America
Willi Hennig Society


American Philosophical Society
Asociación Paleontológica Argentina
Geological Society of America
National Science Foundation
Museum Paleontológico Edigio Feruglio
Palaeontological Society