Paleonet: PRI to honor John Pojeta, Jr., at GSA

Paula M. Mikkelsen pmm37 at
Fri Oct 22 19:30:29 GMT 2010

The Gilbert Harris Award is presented annually by Paleontological Research Institution in recognition of career excellence in systematic paleontology. It is named after the founder of PRI, Gilbert Dennison Harris (1864-1952), whose commitment to systematic paleontology was legendary. The recipient is a scientist who, through outstanding research and commitment to the centrality of systematics in paleontology, has made a significant contribution to the science. PRI is pleased to announce that this year's recipient is John Pojeta, Jr., of the United States Geological Survey at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

John's distinguished career with USGS spanned more than 30 years, from 1963 to 1994. He served as Chief, Branch of Paleontology and Stratigraphy, from 1989 to 1994, and as Chairman, USGS Geological Names Committee, from 1990 to 1994. John remains active in research as a USGS Emeritus Scientist and as a Research Associate in the Department of Paleobiology, a post that he has held since 1969. In reviewing John's career, one is struck by the centrality of systematic paleontology in his accomplishments. Among them, we note especially:

1)      Identification of new taxa and clarification of established ones;

2)      Curation of fossils at the National Museum of Natural History;

3)      Mentoring of students visiting the Paleobiology Division of the museum interested in paleontology [and even moreso if there were even a glimmer of curiosity about pelecypods (bivalves), but not to the exclusion of other mollusks such as chitons]; and

4)      Application of systemic paleontology to projects assessing the validity of ideas on accreted terranes, and correlation of economically important formations.

Among his nearly 100 publications, there are myriad illustrations of how his systematic work in paleontology has informed the fields of geology and paleobiology.

John's main research interests are Lower Paleozoic mollusks. Although now retired, John volunteers assistance for USGS and for other scientists, using fossils (pelecypods in particular) to help solve geological and biological problems. His research interests both before and following retirement have taken him to much of the United States, Antarctica, Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Senegal, Sweden, and the UK. Taxonomy, morphology, ontogeny, variation, phylogeny, and ecology of early pelecypod faunas, especially comparison of these forms to Recent pelecypod faunas, still dominate his research as do more general issues in paleoecology and biostratigraphy. His publication record shows an exceptional breadth of interests and approaches, both geographically and among molluscan groups. John has served the community as an active member and officer of several societies, especially The Paleontological Society and American Malacological Society, and has been a Trustee of PRI (since 1976), President of the Board of Trustees (1980-1982), and this year notably celebrates his 50th anniversary as a member of PRI. John enjoys the singular distinction of having had a significant geographic feature named for him: Pojeta Peak, in the Ellsworth Mountains of Antarctica. John and his wife Mary Lou reside (appropriately) in Rockville, Maryland.

It is with pleasure and honor that the Paleontological Research Institution presents its 2010 Gilbert Harris Award to Dr. John Pojeta Jr.

Please join us at 5:30 pm on Monday November 1st at the Grand Hyatt Denver to present this award to Dr. Pojeta. We will also take this opportunity to celebrate the life of our late friend and colleague, Dr. J. Thomas Dutro, Jr.

Paula M. Mikkelsen, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Science
and Director of Publications
Visiting Fellow, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University
Paleontological Research Institution
1259 Trumansburg Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Tel. (607) 273-6623, ext. 20
Fax (607) 273-6620
email  pmm37 at<mailto:pmm37 at>

"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."  -H. G. Wells

See "Seashells of Southern Florida: Living Marine Mollusks of the Florida Keys and Adjacent Regions: Bivalves,"

On Exhibit at Museum of the Earth:

"Science on the Half Shell: How and Why We Study Evolution" September 24, 2010 - January 17, 2011 With support from the National Science Foundation and Maxie's Supper Club.

Mon. - Sat. 10 am - 5pm and Sun. 11 am - 5 pm. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday (Labor Day - Memorial Day).

Visit us on the web at<file:///C:\Users\pmikkelsen\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures\>. PRI and its Museum of the Earth are part of Ithaca's Discovery Trail. Learn more at<file:///C:\Users\pmikkelsen\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures\>.

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