Paleontological Society Recognizes Outstanding Research and Service with 2018 Awards

Boulder, CO, USA: The Paleontolgical Society will recognize 2018 awardees at their annual banquet on Sunday night, 4 November, as they meet in conjunction with The Geological Society of America’s Annual Meeting & Exposition in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The 2018 Paleontological Society award winners include two academic paleontologists who have made significant contributions to the study of ancient ecosystems, a long-time fossil collector who has worked with academic paleontologists for more than 30 years, an outstanding public advocate for evolution education, and students representing the future of paleontology.

The Paleontological Society Medal: Anna (Kay) Behrensmeyer


Anna (Kay) Behrensmeyer, winner of the 2018 Paleontological Society Medal. (Photo by Kate D. Sherwood, Smithsonian Institution.) 

The winner of the 2018 Paleontological Society Medal is Dr. Anna (Kay) Behrensmeyer, a Research Curator and Senior Scientist in the Department of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). She is a pioneer in taphonomy—the study of how fossils are preserved—and her research has helped us better understand how land ecosystems have changed over the past 300+ million years. She has conducted collaborative field projects in North America, Africa, and Pakistan, and her more than 40-year study of Amboseli National Park (Kenya) shows how changing ecological processes affect links between the living, the dead, the buried, and the fossilized. Dr. Berhrensmeyer also is an active contributor to NMNH exhibits, outreach, and education. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2011, received the R. C. Moore Medal (SEPM) in 2016, and the Romer-Simpson Medal for lifetime achievement from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in 2018.

The Charles Schuchert Award:  Seth Finnegan


Seth Finnegan, winner of the 2018 Charles Schuchert Award. (Photo courtesy of Seth Finnegan.)

The winner of the 2018 Charles Schuchert Award is Dr. Seth Finnegan, an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley, and a curator in the University of California Museum of Paleontology. He earned his A.B. in Geophysical Sciences (1995) at the University of Chicago, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside (2001, 2006), and held postdoctoral appointments at Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology before joining the Berkeley faculty in 2012. Dr. Finnegan’s research focuses on the history of marine ecosystems, in which he aims to figure out ecological and evolutionary responses to major environmental and climatic changes in the ancient past. To accomplish this, he and his students use a variety of approaches involving fossils in the field, geochemical studies of fossils and sediments, and statistical analyses of fossils in space and time. 

The Harrell L. Strimple Award: Jack Kallmeyer


Jack Kallmeyer, winner of the Harrell L. Strimple Award. (Photo courtesy of Jack Kallmeyer.)

The winner of the 2018 Harrell L. Strimple Award is Mr. Jack Kallmeyer, who is an avocational (amateur) paleontologist living in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. Mr. Kallmeyer, now a retired mechanical engineer, was fascinated by the world of paleontology as a child, a passion that never wavered during his career in engineering. In 1984, he joined the Dry Dredgers (the oldest amateur fossil collecting club in the U.S.), which opened up a world of new learning and contacts for him among professional paleontologists, graduate students, and experienced amateurs. One of his most influential collaborators is Dr. David Meyer (University of Cincinnati), who introduced him to other professionals and led to his co-authoring peer reviewed research articles, as well as participating in professional meetings through both poster sessions and presentations. He was president of the Dry Dredgers in 1988 and their bulletin editor in 2011. 

The John and Mary Lou Pojeta Service Award: Eugenie Scott


Eugenie Scott, winner of the John and Mary Lou Pojeta Service Award. (Photo courtesy of Eugenie Scott.)

The winner of the 2018 John and Mary Lou Pojeta Service Award is Dr. Eugenie Scott, the former Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). The NCSE is a non-profit membership organization of scientists, teachers, and others who work to improve the teaching of science as a way of knowing, as well as teaching evolution and climate change. Dr. Scott is a popular lecturer and is often called upon by the media to explain science and evolution to the general public. She is the author of Evolution vs Creationism: An Introduction, co-editor of Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools, and has published many journal articles. She has been recognized with awards by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Board, the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association of Biology, and Scientific American, with honorary degrees from many institutions.

The AWG Winifred Goldring and Undergraduate Excellence in Paleontology Student Awards

Students also received honors from the Paleontological Society this year. The first were the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) Winifred Goldring Awards, which went to Jin-Si Over (an M.S. student at the University of Victoria) and Sandra Schachat (a Ph.D. student at Stanford University). This award is named for the pioneering woman paleontologist who became State Paleontologist of New York in 1939 and was the first female President of the Paleontological Society in 1949. The Undergraduate Excellence in Paleontology Award went to Amanda Guerrero (University of La Verne) and Stephanie Plaza (University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez). Both student awards provide cash prizes and honorary membership in the AWG and Paleontological Society until graduation.

For Immediate Release
29 Oct. 2018
GSA Release No. 18-35


Anthony (Tony) Martin, Communications Officer, Paleontological Society

Christa Stratton, Director, Education, Communication & Outreach, GSA

GSA 2018 logo