The newly named executive director of the California Academy of Sciences doesn’t just play “paleontologist Dr. Scott” on the Jim Henson Company animated series Dinosaur Train, he is a renowned fossil expert and CEO of Science World British Columbia.
A major shake-up in the San Francisco museum community hit the fan earlier this month when society-pages heiress Dede Wilsey stepped down as board president of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which runs the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum. But across from the de Young, we have a major executive-level change at the California Academy of Sciences as well. The San Francisco Business Times reports that the Academy of Sciences has hired a new executive director, one whom watchers of children’s television programming may know as Dr. Scott from the PBS show Dinosaur Train.
I'm thrilled to share the news that I will joining the California Academy of Sciences as their new executive director. At this pivotal moment in the Earth history, organizations like the @calacademy are essential to help move us toward a thriving future! https://t.co/YmERfaODyn— Scott D. Sampson (@DrScottSampson) June 13, 2019
His full name is Dr. Scott D. Sampson, and since the 2009 debut of Dinosaur Train he’s popped up at the end of each animated episode for a live-action segment explaining some dinosaur curriculum to the children. It’s unclear whether he will remain with the Jim Henson Company-produced series, which is expected to release new episodes this summer, but you can have a look at the type of segment he does below.
Those bits are kind of “eat your vegetables” educational content in an otherwise whimsical children’s television series about English-speaking cartoon dinosaurs who ride trains and often break into musical numbers. The show has produced the quite funny cult-hit number “Every Dinosaur Poops,” and below we see its opening theme that seemingly indicates the dinosaur mom has maintained multiple romantic partners.
But Dr. Sampson has bona fides well beyond that of a children’s show. According to an Academy of Sciences announcement, “Sampson is highly regarded for his expertise on Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, from theropods in Madagascar to horned dinosaurs in North America.” He’s currently CEO of Science World British Columbia, has previously served in high-level positions at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Natural History Museum of Utah.
So the Academy has hired a legitimate science guy, an encouraging sign they will not go the Instagram-trap route that is the current fad in San Francisco museum exhibition. Sampson’s tenure at the Academy of Sciences begins September 3, 2019.