One of the fathers of American geology, Edward Hitchcock organized the first geological surveys of Massachusetts and Vermont and served as the Massachusetts state geologist. He also contributed to paleontology, specializing in fossilized bird tracks and amassing a large collection of fossils. Hitchcock served as president of Amherst College from 1845 to 1854. During his term as president, he steered the college through financial difficulties and developed the college’s scientific resources and faculty. He was a charter member of the National Academy of Sciences.