Jason Cryan, Ph.D.

Jason Cryan

The Sarah B. George Executive Director

Areas of Expertise

• Museum administration and leadership

• Evolutionary biology

• Entomology

• Plant-feeding insects of the Order Hemiptera

• Planthoppers, spittlebugs, treehoppers


Jason Cryan, Ph.D., serves as the fourth executive director of the Natural History Museum of Utah. With its rich, 50-year history as the most important natural history museum in America’s Mountain West, NHMU occupies a stunning, award-winning building, the Rio Tinto Center, on the campus of the University of Utah. The museum serves the entire State of Utah with world-class exhibitions, educational programs, and offsite outreach initiatives.

Cryan has been a museum-based scientist and administrator for more than two decades. Immediately prior to joining NHMU, Cryan held the dual roles of deputy museum director and director of research and collections at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC. At NCMNS, he played a key role in defining strategic goals and institutional priorities and led a scientific staff of 30 researchers in a suite of biological, geological, and paleontological disciplines. Before joining NCMNS, Cryan was a research scientist in insect molecular evolution at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY.

With training as an evolutionary biologist, Cryan specializes in the biodiversity and evolution of plant-feeding insects in the Order Hemiptera, and specifically planthoppers, spittlebugs, and treehoppers. These insects are entomologically famous for having bizarre shapes, bright colors, and curious behaviors; moreover, many of the insect species included in these groups are of worldwide economic and agricultural importance. Cryan's research has taken him around the globe, conducting fieldwork in more than twenty tropical countries throughout Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Cryan's academic background includes degrees earned at the University of Vermont (B.A., Zoology) and at North Carolina State University (M.S. and Ph.D., Entomology). He spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher at Brigham Young University. Demonstrating his commitment to formal and nonformal education, Cryan has taught undergraduate courses on Evolution as well as immersive, teacher-training courses on tropical ecology in Central America; he remains active in public outreach and science education, and is the past-President of the Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity Section of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). He was selected as a Science Policy Fellow for the ESA and maintains a strong interest in science advocacy. Cryan currently serves on the Board of Directors for the US national committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-US) and is a member of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Task Force of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC).