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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 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 written or co-written 13 natural history and conservation books, 5 lengthy Special Publications and Bulletins, 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).

Dr. Schmidly retired from administration in 2012 and returned to his academic work.  Since his retirement, he has written or co-written five books; edited and/or written or co-written four Special Publications; and written or co-written 25 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.

Honors and Professional Recognition

  • Volume 12, numera 2 of the journal Therya dedicated to David J. Schmidly, Ph.D., in recognition of his contributions to mammalogy in Mexico, 2021.

  • Elected, National Fellow, Explorers Club, 2018. 

  • Honorary Member, American Society of Mammalogists, 2012.

  • Distinguished Alumnus, Texas Tech University, 2012.

  • Alumni Achievement Award, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Illinois, 2012.

  • Ticul Alvarez Award from the Mexican Society of Mammalogists for career contributions to the Science of Mammalogy in Mexico, 2010.

  • Maestro Emerito (Professor Emeritus), Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), Mexico (only 4th person to receive this honor from the university), 2005.

  • The John Tanner Lectureship Award, Brigham Young University, 2005.

  • Native Plant Society of Texas – Donovan Stewart Correll Memorial Award for scientific writing in the field of native flora of Texas for the book “Texas Natural History: A Century of Change,” 2004.

  • American Society of Mammalogists Joseph Grinnell Award for Excellence in Education in Mammalogy, 2003.

  • 2003 Citation Award, San Antonio Conservation Society, 2003.

  • Inaugural Recipient of the Harvey Weil Professional Conservationist Award, Corpus Christi, 2003.

  • Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Inductee, 2003.

  • Distinguished Public Service Award, Oklahoma Osteopathic Medical School, 2003.                  

  • Meritorious Service Award, Southwest Association of Naturalists, 2001.

  • Honorary Member, Texas Mammal Society, 1999.

  • Sigma Xi Distinguished Scientist Award, Texas A&M University, 1991.

  • Distinguished Alumnus, College of Arts and Sciences, Texas Tech University, 1991.

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

  • Donald W. Tinkle Research Excellence Award, Southwestern Association of Naturalists, 1988. (First award).

  • Fellow, Texas Academy of Science, 1979.

Patronyms for David J. Schmidly

Peromyscus schmidlyi, Bradley et al. 2004, “A New Species of Peromyscus from Western Mexico,” a cricetid rodent from the mountains of western Mexico, conservation status Least Concern. Published in Journal of Mammalogy 85(6):1184-1193.


Habromys schmidlyi, Romo-Vasquez, Leon-Paniagua, and O. Sanchez 2005, “A New Species of Habromys (Rodentia: Neotominae) from Mexico,” a cricetid rodent from the Cloud Forest of southcentral Mexico, conservation status Critically Endangered. Published in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 118(3):605-618.

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