Dr. F. W. Simonds was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts on July 3, 1853, but grew up in Indiana. He received his BA and MA degrees from Cornell and his PhD from Syracuse University (1879). He served as an Instructor in Geology and Paleontology while he was at Syracuse. He then joined the University of North Carolina as Professor of geology, zoology, and botany, but in 1881 resigned and moved to California for his health. In 1887 he returned to Cornell University as Lecturer in economic geology; from 1887-1880 he was Professor of geology and biology at the University of Arkansas; and for five years (1887-1892) he was Assistant Geologist in the Arkansas Geological Survey.

In 1890 he came to UT as Associate Professor of Geology and Chairman, and was also in charge, for a short time, of the Department of Biology. He served as Chairman of the Department of Geology until 1922; he was promoted to Professor in 1895. For ten years Dr. Simonds was the only geology teacher in the university. He was a valued member of many university committees and for 10 years served as Secretary of the Faculty. Simonds also spent considerable time during his early years in contact with university and state officials in the search for funds to purchase fossil collections- an endeavor at which he was successful several times.

Professor Simonds was one of the founders of the Geological Society of America; was president of the Texas Academy of Science (1899-1900), and for many years its secretary; a charter member of Sigma Xi and president of the Texas Chapter; and an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Arkansas in 1893.

At the time of his death on March 27, 1941, Professor Simonds had been teaching in the Department of Geology for 50 years and the department had a teaching faculty of 13 people.