2009 Colbert prize Recipient
Winning this honorable award illuminates my way to becoming a professional paleontologist.
As raised in the big city of Tokyo (Japan), I had many opportunities to visit museums of natural sciences and special exhibits of dinosaurs. The first chance to meet dinosaurs is a vivid memory. In 1990, my mother took me to the Great Dinosaur Expo (Dai Kyoryu Ten), where Tyrannosaurus and his friends from Royal Tyrrell Museum were on display. At the exhibit, I was given a piece of 100 million-year old sedimentary rock. As a seven-year-old child, I could not imagine how many stories this stone had experienced through 100 million years. However, as I was holding this stone, an exquisite feeling came along. My blood was flowing at the very moment just underneath a stone that stopped growing 100 million years ago. I met paleontology.
I wrote a letter to Dr. Yukimitsu Tomida, who is currently on my committee, to ask his advice on which university to attend in order to pursue my dream. I attended Waseda University, Tokyo and received a fundamental knowledge of geology and paleontology. In my senior year, Dr. Tomida gave me the great opportunity to be a field assistant in a joint project between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan. I stepped into Nei Mongol, China and stood on the cliff forming the Tunggur Formation, from which classic fossil localities were discovered by the Central Asiatic Expedition under the leadership of Roy Chapman Andrews in 1928. Looking at the great landscape of Nei Mongol and the beautiful exposure of the Tunggur Formation that Andrews must have seen, I recalled the special feeling that I got when I was a kid. I was standing on the same cliff at the very moment as Andrews must have stood about 80 years ago. Fossils collected by his team were described by Dr. Edwin H. Colbert, for whom this award was named. I love such historical links between the past and the present the most about paleontology.
I am now a graduate student at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX (http://smu.edu/earthsciences/). I studied sicistine rodents from the Early Miocene of Nei Mongol for Master's thesis and presented this research at the 69th SVP annual meeting. My major interests are climate changes and feedback of animals through mouse-eye views. I would like to study this topic in my dissertation with my advisor, Dr. Louis Jacobs.
I would like to thank Dr. Louis Jacobs, Dr. Yukimitsu Tomida, Dr. Zhuding Qiu, and my colleagues at Southern Methodist University, Waseda University (http://www.dept.edu.waseda.ac.jp/earth/index_e.html), and the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. Arigato!
Photo courtesy of Yuri Kimura.