Smithsonian Journeys Experts

Melissa Hawkins

photo of Melissa Hawkins

Missy is the Curator-in-Charge and Research Zoologist in the Division of Mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Missy has conducted research on small mammals around the world, particularly in Africa and Asia. She has active research in Uganda and Malaysia, and spends her days trapping rodents everywhere from mountains to grasslands. She is an expert in genomics, and works on advancing methods to extract, amplify and sequence DNA from long-stored museum specimens. Her work has taken her around the world, and she is a capable naturalist eager to discuss wildlife, ecology, evolution and behavior with anyone willing to listen. Her interests stem from a background working with snakes and birds, and enjoys wildlife watching. Missy got her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Western Illinois University and her PhD through George Mason University while working at the National Zoo’s Center for Conservation Genomics and the National Museum of Natural History.

Upcoming Tours

African Safari: A Wildlife Adventure

14 days | Starting at: $9,484
Aug 21, 2024 - Sep 3, 2024

South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Victoria Falls
Tour Details ››