Leonard “Dick” Wilson was born July 23, 1906 in Superior, Wisconsin and that is where he grew up. Dick attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison to obtain a Bachelor degree in philosophy and Bachelor degree in Botany in 1930. His studies included a year abroad at University of Leeds, Scotland. He continued at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to obtain a Master of Science in 1932 and his Ph.D. in 1935 as well as completing an extensive report, equivalent to another Ph.D. dissertation. It was during his post-doctorate work at Ohio State University (1939-1940) and the University of California at Los Angeles where he really began his studies of pollen. He is known as a pioneer in the field of palynology and the first man to perceive the common uses of palynology in oil exploration causing him to be an internationally recognized palynologist, known for his work on stratigrapghic palynology especially from coal and oil producing strata and a much sought professional consultant/contract worker for several (at least 17) major and independent oil companies in United States and South America.
In 1962 Wilson became the curator of micropaleontology and paleobotany at the Stovall Museum of Natural History (later the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History) and was until 1977, when he became an active curator emeritus from 1978 until his death. During his tenure, the collections underwent significant growth from teaching, research and student activities even after he was no longer a full-time faculty member. The museum acquired Wilson’s lifetime collection (including many collected during his previous academic appointments from 1934-1962) of specimens, field notes and publications and they make up a considerable portion of the collection. Partially because of the significant donations over the years to the museum, our collection is named “The Leonard R. Wilson Collection of Micropaleontology and Paleobotany” in his honor.
In an effort to make Wilson’s palynological and paleobotanical collections more accessible and maintain its relevancy we are making what is known about Wilson’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.