Friday, July 13, 2018

2018 Division Awards for outstanding research

Every year the GBGM executive committee selects exceptional scholars to receive awards for their accomplishments in research, education/mentoring, and service in geobiology. This year we had an exceptional list of nominees so thanks to all those who nominated someone!

We are pleased to announce that the 2018 awards go to Paula Welander and Jim Schiffbauer (pre-tenure), Beth Orcutt (post-tenure), and Andy Knoll (distinguished career). Please checkout their brief biographies below.

Pre-Tenure Award Recipient: Paula Welander (Stanford University)

Paula Welander is a microbiologist with interests in understanding the biosynthesis and physiological function of “molecular fossils” or lipid biomarkers in extant microbes. Paula received her undergraduate degree in kinesiology from Occidental College in Los Angeles. She obtained her PhD in microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she studied methanogenesis with Prof. Bill Metcalf.  Paula then pursued postdoctoral studies on the biosynthesis of hopanoids, lipid produced by bacteria that also function as geological biomarkers, at MIT with Prof. Dianne Newman and Prof. Roger Summons. She joined the Stanford faculty in 2013 where she has continued her molecular work on lipid biomarkers in extant bacteria and archaea.

Pre-Tenure Award Recipient: James Schiffbauer (University of Missouri)

Dr. Schiffbauer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Director of the X-ray Microanalysis Core at the University of Missouri. Schiffbauer’s academic background spans both biology and geology, and his research interests center on how accurately the history of life can be interpreted through the fossil record. Specifically targeting the taphonomy of complex multicellular fossils from the dawn of animal life at the Ediacaran–Cambrian transition, Schiffbauer uses advanced microscopy methods, including analytical scanning electron microscopy and tomographic x-ray microscopy, to help resolve which features of fossils represent true biological signal as opposed to those that are instead preservational noise.

Post-Tenure Award Recipient: Beth Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences)

Dr. Beth Orcutt is a Senior Research Scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine. Orcutt’s research focuses on understanding microscopic life at and below the seafloor, to resolve the importance of microbes in global chemical cycling while also revealing how life can survive in extremes for future astrobiology investigations. Having spent over 560 days at sea on 35 different field missions, Orcutt is an expert in ocean exploration technology.

Distinguished Career Award Recipient: Andrew Knoll (Harvard University)

Andrew Knoll is the Fisher Professor of Natural History at Harvard University, where he has taught for the past 36 years.  Knoll has longstanding interests in life and environments on the Archean and Proterozoic Earth, but he has also worried about Phanerozoic plant, animal, and phytoplankton evolution.  Much of Knoll’s paleontological and biogeochemical research derives from careful fieldwork, including successions in the Arctic, Siberia, China, Australia, and – virtually, at least – Mars.

Please join us in congratulating these four exceptional scientists at the GSA Geobiology Division Award Presentation during the 2018 GSA in Indiana.

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