Dr. Sam W. Heads

Sam W. Heads, PhD, FLS

Director & Curator-in-Charge

Office: 1027A, Forbes Natural History Building, MC652

Email: swheads@illinois.edu

Phone: +1 (217) 244-9448


  • PhD in Palaeontology, University of Portsmouth, UK, 2006–2009
  • BSc (Hons) in Palaeobiology & Evolution, University of Portsmouth, UK, 2001–2004


Dr. Heads has published more than 60 scientific papers and book chapters on fossil and modern insects. A full list is available here: http://publicationslist.org/swheads

PDFs of publications are available on request via email: swheads@illinois.edu.


Dr. Heads is a paleontologist and the founding Director and Curator-in-Charge at the Center for Paleontology, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests are focused on the taxonomy, paleontology, and evolutionary history of terrestrial arthropods, specifically insects, with an emphasis on Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) and related polyneopteran groups. He has traveled the world pursuing his research, visiting every continent except Antarctica. In addition to his position as the Director of the Center for Paleontology, he also holds affiliate professorships in the departments of Entomology and Geology at the University of Illinois, is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Kentiana, and is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

Born in Northumberland, England, Dr. Heads completed his undergraduate and PhD degrees at the University of Portsmouth, UK, before joining the Illinois Natural History Survey in 2009. He founded the Center for Paleontology in 2017, bringing together for the first time the fossil collections of the Illinois Natural History and State Geological surveys, and the Department of Geology in order to facilitate paleontological research at the university.


Malthodes (Libertimalthodes) headsi Fanti, 2021 (fossil soldier beetle in Baltic amber)
Olindanymphes headsi Makarkin, 2022 (fossil antlion from the Cretaceous of Brazil)
Scapteriscus headsi Cadena-Castañeda, 2011 (amole cricket from the Colombian Amazon)