2007 Preparators' Grant Recipient
Mohamed Sameh Mohamed Anter Abed ElHamid
Mohamed Sameh works for the EEAA (Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency). He is the Senior Geologist and Team Leader at Wadi El-Hitan Valley of the Whales World Heritage Site, located within Wadi El-Rayan Protected Area, one of Egypt's 26 national parks. He has worked in this park since 2000, and has been Team Leader since 2005, supervising eight on-site staff dedicated to the conservation and research of the fossil organisms there. He received his MSc from Zagazik University in Egypt in 2007, on the faunal analysis of the middle Eocene in Wadi Hitan, and his BSc in Geology and Chemistry from Mansoura University in Egypt in 1998.
His current responsibilities include mapping and documenting skeletal remains at Wadi Hitan; conservation of these remains, including fossils excavated for research purposes; developing a laboratory for preparation and conservation of fossils; development of educational displays for tourists visiting the area; and development of policies that protect the fossils while also allowing some research and tourism in the area. He has recently worked closely with Professor Philip Gingeric's team (University of Michigan) to better understand the depositional environments and extent of the marine fauna represented at Wadi Hitan, and has previously received some training in molding and casting at the preparation facilities in the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan. He is very personable, dedicated, and an avid field person. His dedication to the site is important, because increased tourism to the area has heightened risks to the fossil exposures—for example, a Belgian diplomatic group was recently cited for reckless driving over the skeletal remains of fossil whales in Wadi Hitan, and awareness of the uniqueness of this site is key to the continued preservation of its treasures.
Mohammed was awarded this year's Preparators' Grant because the training he will receive in vertebrate fossil preparation and conservation at the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology will be applied to preservation and proper treatment of fossils at an important and unique World Heritage Site, Wadi Hitan (famous for its hundreds of archaeocete whale skeletons); because the award is supplemented by a substantial commitment by the Egyptian Government to build and staff a permanent fossil conservation facility at the site; and because other preparators working under his direction will directly benefit from the knowledge and skills he gains from his training—his proposal perfectly matched the spirit and intent of the grant, and has a potentially large impact on improving standards in Egyptian paleontology.
Photo courtesy of M. Sameh.