Michael S. Engel

Michael S. Engel (born 24 September 1971 in Creve Coeur, Missouri) is a paleontologist and entomologist. He has undertaken field work in Central Asia, Asia Minor, and the Western Hemisphere, and published more than 245 papers in scientific journals. He gained his training at the University of Kansas where he received a B.S. in Cellular Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry in 1993, and at Cornell University where in 1998 he obtained his Ph.D. in Entomology. In 2006 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work in insect paleontology. Dr. Engel is an authority on the geological history, phylogeny, and taxonomy of insects, and has made particular contributions to the systematics of living and fossil Zoraptera, Isoptera, Dermaptera, Raphidioptera, Neuroptera, and Hymenoptera, most notably the bees, including the honey bees (genus Apis). Some of Dr. Engel's research images have been included in art exhibits on the aesthetic value of scientific imagery

Among his current positions are Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York; Fellow of the Linnean Society of London; and joint appointments as Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Courtesy Professor in the Department of Geology, and Curator-in-Charge (Senior Curator) in the Division of Entomology and Courtesy Curator in the Division of Invertebrate Paleontology of the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas.

Ismael A. Hinojosa-Díaz, Allan H. Smith-Pardo, Daniel J. Bennett, Jon Kieckhefer, Stephanie J. Swenson, Ming-luen Jeng, and Steven R. Davis are just some of his numerous students from all over the world

With David Grimaldi, also an insect systematist and paleontologist, he is co-author of Evolution of the Insects (2005).

Outside of his academic expertise Dr. Engel is a violinist, well versed in theology, philosophy, and antiquities, and is a member of the United Church of Christ (his father, Rev. A.G. Engel, was a long-time Conference Minister with the United Church of Christ). He has two siblings - Elisabeth Anne Engel (1975- ), Curator of Artifacts for the Waukesha County Historial Society & Museum in Wisconsin, and Jeffrey Gayle Engel (1980- ). On 7 July 2008 Engel became engaged to Ms. Kellie K. Magill (1970- ) at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

Early Life and Education

Engel was born in Creve Coeur, Missouri to Donna G. Engel, a former music instructor and organist, and Rev. A.G. Engel, former minister active within the United Church of Christ. The family soon moved from their home in Washington, Missouri to Phoenix, Arizona before relocating a few years later to Walnut Creek, California. Eventually, the household settled in Wichita, Kansas where Engel completed high school, graduating in 1989 from Wichita High School Southeast.

In 1989 Engel moved to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and completed undergraduate study in Chemistry and Cellular Biology. Engel moved to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and in 1998 completed doctoral studies in Systematic Entomology.


Engel’s academic career officially began in 1998 with an appointment as Research Scientist in the Department of Entomology (later the Division of Invertebrate Zoology) at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York. Upon departing the American Museum in 2000 he was appointed as Research Associate. Engel returned to the University of Kansas in 2000 with joint appointments in the Department of Entomology, the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and the Division of Entomology in the University’s Natural History Museum. At the close of that year the Department of Entomology was merged with the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. In 2005 Engel was granted continuous tenure and promoted to Associate Professor/Associate Curator, followed by promotion to full Professor and Senior Curator in 2008. In addition to his regular appointments Engel was appointed as Courtesy Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology (2006) and Courtesy Professor in the Department of Geology (2008). In 2000 he was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

Along with fellow paleontologist and entomologist David A. Grimaldi, Curator at the American Museum, Engel published in 2005 a comprehensive overview of insect evolutionary history (Evolution of the Insects, Cambridge University Press). This work synthesized for the first time the fossil record of insects with the wealth of information on the biology and ecology of the modern diversity.

In 2006-2007 Engel resumed regular activity in the American Museum of Natural History while a Guggenheim Fellow, completing work on the geological history of termites and their influence on carbon recycling in paleoenvironments. In 2008 he received the Charles Schuchert Award of the Paleontological Society for his contributions to the field.

Awards and Honors

Prof. Engel's scientific honors include:


The following species have been proposed in honor of Dr. Engel:

  1. Lasioglossum (Dialictus) engeli Genaro (a halictid bee from Cuba)
  2. Braunsapis engeli Jobiraj (a small allodapine bee from southern India)
  3. Cretostylops engeli Grimaldi & Kathirithamby (the oldest fossil Strepsiptera, from Myanmar)
  4. Sigmophlebia engeli Béthoux & Beckemeyer (a protorthopteran from the Early Permian of Oklahoma)
  5. Triepeolus engeli Rightmyer (an epeoline bee from Texas)


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