- B.S. in Biology (with honors), Calvin College, 2005
- Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, 2011
- Calvin University, Associate Professor of Biology (2019–present)
- Calvin College, Assistant Professor of Biology (2012–2019)
- Olivet Nazarene University, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences (2011–2012)
Dr. Bebej grew up in central Illinois and graduated from Calvin in 2005. He studied the early evolution of cetaceans under Dr. Philip Gingerich at the University of Michigan and earned a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2011. He has been a biology professor at Calvin since 2012. He enjoys German tabletop games, science fiction, super heroes, rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals and Michigan Wolverines, and spending time with his wife and two sons.
Dr. Bebej is interested in comparative anatomy, functional morphology, vertebrate paleontology, and the evolutionary history of mammals. In the past, he has worked on fossil horses and pinnipeds, but most of his research has focused on fossil cetaceans. For his doctoral work, he studied an enigmatic group of fossil whales from the middle Eocene of Pakistan called remingtonocetids. His research focused on their postcranial skeleton and utilized multivariate statistical analyses and three-dimensional multibody dynamic models to test hypotheses of vertebral function. In 2009, he spent two months on a paleontological dig in Egypt, where he helped to excavate the skeletons of fossil whales at Wadi Al-Hitan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Egypt's western desert. He routinely spends time working in collections at world-renowned museums (including the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC), where he studies the anatomies of modern mammals to aid in the interpretation of fossil forms.
Dr. Bebej is also deeply interested in the relationship between science and Christian faith. He has been a speaker for the BioLogos Foundation since 2016 and frequently speaks at churches and schools about evolutionary science and Christianity. In addition, he has been a Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford (SCIO) visiting scholar in science and religion and a participant in SCIO's Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities II program.
Research and scholarship
Dr. Bebej’s current research focuses on the transition from foot-powered to tail-powered swimming in the earliest fossil cetaceans. He is also working on an interdisciplinary project aimed at addressing some of the difficult questions that arise when considering evolution within a Reformed theological framework.
R.M. Bebej. 2019. Book review: The Rhinoceros and the Megatherium: An Essay in Natural History by Juan Pimentel. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 71: 57-58.
R.M. Bebej. 2018. Book review: The Rise of Marine Mammals: 50 Million Years of Evolution by Annalisa Berta. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 70: 275-276.
R.M. Bebej, K.M. Smith. 2018. Lumbar mobility in archaeocetes (Mammalia: Cetacea) and the evolution of aquatic locomotion in the earliest whales. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 182: 695-721. DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx058
P.D. Gingerich, K. Heissig, R.M. Bebej, W. von Koenigswald. 2017. Astragali of Pakicetidae and other early-to-middle Eocene archaeocetes (Mammalia, Cetacea) of Pakistan: locomotion and habitat in the initial stages of whale evolution. Paläontologische Zeitschrift 91: 601-627. DOI: 10.1007/s12542-017-0362-8
R.M. Bebej. 2017. Book review: Cetacean Paleobiology by by Felix G. Marx, Olivier Lambert, and Mark D. Uhen. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 69: 113-114.
R.M. Bebej, I.S. Zalmout, A.A. Abed El-Aziz, M.S.M. Antar, P.D. Gingerich. 2015. First remingtonocetid archaeocete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the middle Eocene of Egypt with implications for locomotion and biogeography in early cetacean evolution. Journal of Paleontology 89: 882-893. DOI: 10.1017/jpa.2015.57
R.M. Bebej. 2013. Book review: Evolution and Belief: Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist by Robert J. Asher. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 65: 56-58.
R.M. Bebej, M. ul-Haq, I.S. Zalmout, and P.D. Gingerich. 2012. Morphology and function of the vertebral column in Remingtonocetus domandaensis (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the middle Eocene Domanda Formation of Pakistan. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 19: 77-104. DOI: 10.1007/s10914-011-9184-8
A.R. Wood, R.M. Bebej, C.L. Manz, D.L. Begun, and P.D. Gingerich. 2011. Postcranial functional morphology of Hyracotherium (Equidae, Perissodactyla) and locomotion in the earliest horses. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 18: 1-32. DOI: 10.1007/s10914-010-9145-7
R.M. Bebej. 2009. Swimming mode inferred from skeletal proportions in the fossil pinnipeds Enaliarctos and Allodesmus (Mammalia, Carnivora). Journal of Mammalian Evolution 16: 77-97. DOI: 10.1007/s10914-008-9099-1
- 2020 Calvin University Advising and Mentoring Award
- 2017 Calvin College Professor of the Year (presented by Calvin College K4L: Student Alumni Association)
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