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David Schmidly is one of Texas’ leading mammalogists, naturalists, and conservationists.  He was born in Lubbock, Texas, on December 20th, 1943, and raised on a cotton farm near Levelland, Hockley County, graduating from Levelland High School in 1962.  As a first- generation college student, Dr. Schmidly was the first member of his family to attend and graduate.  He received his B.A. and M.S. degrees from Texas Tech University (1962-1968) and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois (1968-1971), all in Zoology.  Dr. Schmidly has been recognized as a distinguished alumnus at both institutions.

Dr. Schmidly at Vernon Bailey's Old Farm

Dr. Schmidly is an internationally respected researcher and scientific author.  He is best known for his books on Texas mammals, and he is a leading authority on this subject.  He has been inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics, and Technology, which recognizes Texans who have played a major role in significant scientific accomplishments.  As a noted scientific naturalist, his research explores the biodiversity and conservation of mammals, with a regional specialization in Texas and Mexico.  He has authored 13 natural history and conservation books, 4 lengthy special publications, and more than 150 scientific articles.  He is an authority on the taxonomy and systematics of deer mice (genus Peromyscus), having participated in the description of 5 new species in this group.  In addition, Dr. Schmidly received a very prestigious honor when two new species of deer mice were named after him – Peromyscus schmidlyi and Habromys schmidlyi. 

In addition to his career in teaching and research, Dr. Schmidly has served in various administrative roles with distinction.  He served as President of the University of New Mexico from 2007-2012.  Previously, he had served as President and CEO of Oklahoma State University (2003-2007) and Vice President of Research, Dean of the Graduate School, and President at Texas Tech (1996-2003).  Dr. Schmidly started his academic career at Texas A&M University in 1971 where he served as head of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (1986-1992) and Chief Executive Officer and Campus Dean of Texas A&M University at Galveston (1992-1996).

As a testament to his effective leadership, “special David Schmidly Days” were designated in his hometown of Levelland, Texas (2001, March 20th), by the Oklahoma Executive Department (2003, March 6th), the City of Shawnee, Oklahoma (2004, 23rd March), and two cities in New Mexico (Albuquerque, 12th April 2012 and Rio Rancho, 24th May 2012).

Dr. Schmidly has received many awards and recognitions for his academic, conservation, and administrative work, including:

1974: Elected Professor of the Year, Association of Graduate Student Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University.

1979: Elected a Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science.

1986: Outstanding Professor, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University.

1988: Donald W. Tinkle Research Excellence Award (first recipient) from the Southwestern Association of Naturalists.  

1990: Award in Excellence for Administration, Texas A&M University System.

1991: Distinguished Alumnus, College of Arts and Sciences, Texas Tech University; Sigma Xi Distinguished Scientist Award, Texas A&M University.

1999: Elected Honorary Member, Texas Mammal Society.

2001: Meritorious Service Award, Southwestern Association of Naturalists.

2003: Joseph Grinnell Award for Excellence in Education in Mammalogy from the American Society of Mammalogists (ASM); Inaugural recipient of the Harvey Weil Professional Conservationist Award, Corpus Christi, Texas; Citation Award from the San Antonio Conservation Society.

2004: Donovan Stewart Correll Memorial Award from the Native Plant Society of Texas.

2005: Maestro Emerito (Professor Emeritus), Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), Mexico (only 4th person to receive this honor from the University); John Tanner Lectureship Award, Brigham Young University.

2008: Distinguished Leadership Award, New Mexico Anti-Defamation League.

2010: Ticul Alvarez Award from the Mexican Society of Mammalogists for his contributions to the science of mammalogy in Mexico;

2012: Awarded Honorary Membership by the American Society of Mammalogists (the most prestigious recognition awarded by that international scientific society); Distinguished Alumnus, Texas Tech University; Alumni Achievement Award, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Illinois.

2018: Elected Fellow of the Explorers Club, New York City.

2021: Volume 12 number 2 of the journal "Therya" (scientific publication of Mexican Society of Mammalogists) dedicated to his career achievements and service. 

Dr. Schmidly retired from administration in 2012 and returned to his academic work.  Since his retirement, he has published five books; edited and/or authored four special publication monographs; and authored 15 scientific articles, with one being translated into Chinese.  


Dr. Schmidly and his wife of 57 years, Janet Knox Schmidly, also a Texas Tech graduate (1966), are retired and live in Placitas, New Mexico.  They are the parents of two grown children and four grandchildren.

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