Area: Natural History, Fossils & Evolution
B.Sc., Geology and Biology, University of Toronto, 1975
Dave Rudkin is an Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the ROM and a cross-appointed lecturer in Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto, where he co-teaches a 2nd-year undergraduate course on Earth System Evolution.
Like most of his fellow earth scientists, Dave Rudkin grew up with an abiding fascination for the natural world in general, but fossils and minerals obviously held a particular thrall. Perhaps because rocks didn’t smell quite as much as live voles, dead frogs, or dried crayfish, his family actively encouraged his geological collecting activities above biological ones and patiently tolerated demands to stop at every road cut and outcrop encountered on annual camping vacations.
Dave Rudkin was born and raised in the Toronto area, and to balance these childhood field forays, there were also frequent opportunities to visit the ROM, where a primal fear of encountering mummies around every corner was overcome by the stronger lure of seeing the fossil and mineral displays. Throughout his high school years and during subsequent geology and biology studies at the University of Toronto, the ROM functioned as an extended classroom, a learning laboratory, and a quiet refuge. Sometime during that interval, he became determined it would also be his place of employment.
By very good fortune (and with a little dogged persistence), Dave’s ROM career began in Spring, 1974 in what was then the Department of Invertebrate Palaeontology. Under the glorified title of ROM Researcher, he joined two other undergraduates assisting with the initial computerization of catalogue records and general lab work. When the others went back to school in the fall, he stayed on as part-time cataloguer, unknowingly setting himself up for an extraordinary opportunity. The ROM’s first Burgess Shale expedition, organized by Desmond Collins, headed to Yoho National Park (British Columbia) in June 1975, and he signed on as a field assistant to collect at the most famous fossil locality in the world!
For more than 30 years now, he has had the continuing good fortune to remain at the ROM, as a Technician, Curatorial Assistant, and Assistant Curator, developing research projects on trilobites, trace fossils and the palaeontology of the Hudson Bay and James Bay lowlands, among many others. Fieldwork, including many return trips to the Burgess Shale, is an important component of all these studies. He is also active in geoscience education, organizing and promoting interest in geology and palaeontology through public programs, field trips, lectures, exhibitions, and popular writing.