2006 Patterson Memorial Grant Recipients
Randall B. Irmis
|Photo courtesy of Randall B. Irmis.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois; my early interest in geology and natural history was equally influenced by visits to the Field Museum and trips to the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin. I moved west to Northern Arizona University for my undergraduate degree where I received a BS in Geology (with an emphasis in Paleontology) in 2004.
While there, the fantastic outdoor geological laboratory that is the southern Colorado Plateau initiated my interest in Triassic vertebrate paleontology, particularly the assemblages found within the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation. This resulted in three summers of fieldwork at Petrified Forest National Park under the direction of park paleontologist Bill Parker. After completing my undergraduate degree, I began my PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, and have continued fieldwork in the early Mesozoic of the Colorado Plateau.
My PhD project focuses on understanding the origins, interrelationships, and initial diversification of early dinosaurs. As part of this research, I am co-leading a field project with colleagues from the American Museum of Natural History and Field Museum of Natural History in the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation of northern New Mexico to excavate a new quarry containing some of the earliest North American dinosaurs. Funding from the Bryan Patterson Award will allow me to conduct fieldwork that places this quarry and other localities in the area into a better stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental context. This work will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the vertebrate faunal changes occurring through time in the Late Triassic of northern New Mexico.
|Photo courtesy of Barbara Sánchez-Hernández.
I was born and brought up in Spain. Although I have been moving cities, it is in Soria and Teruel provinces where I have made my most important palaeontological projects.
In the summer of 1994, I participated in my first major excavation campaign. During November-December of 1994, I was a voluntary collaborator to sieve sediments from the Atapuerca outcrop, close to Soria province. In the summer of 1998, I collaborated in the palaeontological campaign of Torralba-Ambrona outcrop in Soria province, assisting my great friend and adviser, Dr. Carmen Sesé (Natural History Museum of Madrid, Spain). Also in Soria I have led two palaeontological prospecting campaigns: one in Carazuelo (2003-2004) obtained more than 54 fossil remains of Tempskya riojana, conifers and Cycadeoidea indet.; and the other in 2005-2006 studying the pterosaur tracks.
Simultaneously in July 2004, I started my PhD Project under the supervision of Prof. Michael J. Benton at the University of Bristol, U.K. At the end of my first year, I described a basal sauropod, Galveosaurus herreroi, which shares some features with the British Cetiosaurus oxoniensis.
Getting this award has been very motivating and encouraging for me to pursue futher research in this field and it will contribute to improve the knowledge of the Mesozoic palaeontology of the North of Spain.