It is really amazing to see the things that students have done together

1 July 2019

When you look at the amount of choice that students have at the Maastricht Science Programme to build their own curriculum, coupled with the advising and the academic resources, the potential is limitless. It is a bit daring to give that high degree of freedom to students. But the students here really make the most of it.

Leon Claessens


Leon Claessens is Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, and Dean of the Maastricht Science Programme, a unique Liberal Arts and Sciences Programme with exceptional strength in the Natural Sciences. Claessens has more than 25 years of teaching experience at the university level, with specific expertise in education in the Liberal Arts and Sciences tradition. His research focuses on the paleobiology and evolution of the vertebrates. Ongoing projects include the evolution of the extinct dodo from the island of Mauritius, the functional morphology and respiratory evolution of archosaurs, such as dinosaurs, crocodiles and birds, and the fauna of the Late Cretaceous of North America and the southern Netherlands. Claessens’ work has been funded by amongst others the National Science Foundation (US) and the National Geographic Society, and is frequently featured in national and international media.


Claessens received broad training in Geology, Biology and Anatomy. He obtained an A.M. and Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University, and an undergraduate degree and M.Sc. in Geology from Utrecht University, with further anatomical and surgical training at Harvard Medical School and the Veterinary School at Utrecht University.