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2010 Preparators' Grant Recipient

Hesham Mohamed Sallam

Hesham Mohamed Sallam

Hesham Mohamed Sallam was born in Sharkia, Egypt, in 1975. As an undergraduate he studied Geology at Mansoura University, where he was first in his class and received a BS degree in 1997. As a master's student, he undertook a study of the stratigraphy and invertebrate paleontology of Late Cretaceous rocks in the Sinai Peninsula, and his MS thesis on this topic was selected as the best at Mansoura University in 2004. Hesham was awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Egyptian government to study vertebrate paleontology at a European university, and he began his DPhil studies at University of Oxford in 2006. He is the first Egyptian to have been trained abroad for a higher degree in vertebrate paleontology in many decades. From 2008 to 2010, he worked as a Visiting Scholar at Stony Brook University, where he was conducting his DPhil research on Eocene anomaluroid and hystricognathous rodents from the Fayum area in Egypt. As a graduate student he lead-authored papers in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Palaeontology and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. While at Stony Brook he received extensive training in vertebrate fossil preparation, molding and casting from Joe Groenke and Virginia Heisey of the Stony Brook Vertebrate Fossil Preparation Laboratory. He has also participated in 10 vertebrate paleontological expeditions — eight in his home country, one in Kenya and one in Yemen.

Upon completion of his DPhil (expected in September of 2010), Hesham will return to Egypt to assume a position as Lecturer at Mansoura University. He has already created Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology (MUVP), a research unit within the Geology Department at Mansoura University, that is dedicated to educating Egyptian vertebrate paleontologists, expanding awareness of Egypt's vertebrate paleontological resources and undertaking vertebrate paleontological collection, preparation, study and curation of Egypt's fossil vertebrates. MUVP has already led two successful expeditions to the Western Desert of Egypt, and this research in Late Cretaceous sediments allowed for the recovery of an important vertebrate fauna that includes theropod and sauropod dinosaurs, a diverse crocodyliform assemblage, plesiosaurs and fish. Mansoura University has provided Hesham with a large laboratory which will be converted into a well-equipped vertebrate preparation laboratory with the funds that have been generously provided by the SVP Preparators' Grant. The MUVP lab is sure to be an important center for the training of the next generation of Egyptian vertebrate paleontologists and preparators.

Photo courtesy of Hesham Mohamed Sallam.