2005 Estes Memorial Grant Recipient
Laura K. Säilä
I was born and raised in Helsinki, Finland. After high school I studied zoology at Open University (Helsinki) for a year, and in 1998 was accepted into Helsinki University to do an undergraduate degree, leading to an MSc in Ecological and Morphological Zoology. I was initially planning to become a marine biologist, but after studying geology and paleontology as minor subjects under Prof. Mikael Fortelius, I decided to specialize in vertebrate paleontology. Finland, unfortunately, has a very scarce fossil record, so after finishing the undergraduate part of my zoology degree, I took a year off to do a Palaeobiology MSc in the University of Bristol, UK, during 2001-2002. My thesis project in Bristol, supervised by Prof. Mike Benton and Dr. Pam Gill, was a re-description of the reptiles of Pant 4 fissure, part of a micro-vertebrate fauna from the Lower Jurassic of South Wales. Afterwards, I returned to Helsinki to finish my zoology MSc, and graduated in 2004 with a thesis project on the mate choice in the live-bearing poeciliid fish Heterandria formosa.
In October 2004, I returned to Bristol to start a PhD on the evolution, the interrelationships and the biogeography of the parareptilian clade Procolophonoidea, with funding from the Finnish Osk. Huttunen Foundation. I am supervised by Prof. Mike Benton and Dr. Sean P. Modesto (Cape Breton University, Canada). I am very grateful to have been awarded the Richard Estes Memorial Grant, because it will allow me to include a review of the Russian procolophonoids in my project.
Photo courtesy of Laura K. Säilä.