The 2020 Paleontological Society Medal Is Awarded to a University of Chicago Scholar

Susan Kidwell, the William Rainey Harper Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, has been awarded the 2020 Paleontological Society Medal for her contributions to interpreting the older fossil record and advancing conservation paleobiology. The Paleontological Society Medal is the most prestigious honor bestowed by the Geological Society of America and is awarded to a person whose eminence is based on advancement of knowledge in paleontology.

Dr. Kidwell’s current work is motivated largely by the need to solve modern-day environmental problems. It explores how fossils are preserved and the reliability of paleobiologic data, especially for detecting recent, human-driven changes to ecosystems. The Kidwell Lab is currently using the continental shelves of Southern California, the northern Red Sea, and Alaska as study systems.

“I was delighted, of course, and also amazed,” said Professor Kidwell when informed of the honor. “I mostly focus on fossils as sedimentary particles, representing the dregs of biological production, so it’s pretty wonderful to get this level of recognition for all of us working in this field — taphonomy, which is fundamental but unglamorous.”

Dr. Kidwell joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1985. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale University.

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