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2010 Predoctoral Fellowship Grant Recipient

Michael D'Emic

Michael D'Emic

I was born and raised in New York's mid-Hudson Valley and developed an interest in nature during hikes in the Taconic Mountains. My interest in paleontology was sparked in high school by the discovery of a mastodon in a nearby town. Over the course of a summer and fall, I participated in the excavation, which increased my appreciation for and knowledge of life of the past.

For my undergraduate education, I attended Boston University and studied abroad in New Zealand, where I took classes in field geology and paleoecology through the University of Auckland. I continued my education by entering the PhD program at the University of Michigan under the guidance of Jeff Wilson. My research focuses on two main themes: the evolution and paleobiology of group of sauropod dinosaurs known as Titanosauriformes, and the use of bone histology to understand the evolution of growth rates and body size in this group. The first aim of my dissertation is to create a stable phylogeny for the group, focusing on its origins, and has led me to make collections visits in the USA, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Germany, France, India, Thailand and Laos. The second aim is to discover characters in the bone histology of titanosauriforms that correspond to changes in body size and growth rates, grounded in comparisons with the bone histology of extant archosaurs.

I also conduct fieldwork in the Cloverly Formation of the Bighorn Basin, USA, with the aim of understanding the dramatic changes that occurred in sauropod faunas through the Cretaceous. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, rock climbing, skiing and reading.

I am honored to receive the 2010 SVP Predoctoral Fellowship. I would like to thank the selection committee as well as Jeff Wilson, Tom Baumiller and Catherine Badgley for letters of recommendation. I will use the SVP award to make collections visits in order to broaden the taxonomic sampling of my phylogenetic and histological analyses.

Photo courtesy of Michael D'Emic.