James Bartel Urban was born June 20, 1933 in in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. He grew up in Rush Springs alongside his younger brother Logan Louis Urban. James Urban became a master’s student of Dr. Dick Wilson at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, United States. James worked on “Microfossils of the Woodward Shale (Devonian) of Oklahoma” for a 1960 masters thesis.
In 1967 James Urban joined the faculty of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies (now the University of Texas-Dallas). Although he specialized in palynology he was the first head of the Science Education Program for teachers to a Master’s degree in Science Education. He also served for a while as the chairman of the geosciences graduate program and acting head of the Institute for Geological Sciences Program. He left the geosciences faculty in January 1980 to operate his own oil-drilling business. Which he ran while also being an adjunct associate professor in the geosciences program at the University of Texas-Dallas who supervised students and consultant to several major oil companies until the time of his death.
James Bartel Urban was a founding member of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists (AASP) and was also active in other scientific and professional organizations. Urban was the recipient of numerous grants throughout his career.
After James Urban’s passing his specimens were donated to the L. R. Wilson Paleobotany and Micropaleontology Collection for numerous reasons, including the fact that his thesis and dissertation specimens were already here and that his professor Doc Wilson was emeritus curator at the time. Therefore, many of James Urban’s specimens reside in the L. R. Wilson Paleobotany and Micropaleontology Collection, Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.
In an effort to make James Urban’s palynological and paleobotanical collections more accessible and maintain its relevancy we are making what is known about James Urban’s legacy and collection available on the web and asking that anyone who has additional information add it in our Collection Forum or contact us to help preserve his legacy.