2005 Romer Prize Recipient
I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but spent most of my formative years growing up in Erlangen, Germany, just miles away from the Plateosaurus type locality. My interest in paleontology was sparked by a fragmentary trilobite that I found in Wisconsin as a boy and was only intensified by the abundant Muschelkalk fossils around my grandmother's house and the Liassic ammonites that were plentiful around my hometown. After graduating from high school, I enrolled in the geology/paleontology program at the University of Erlangen, where I received an excellent education in all aspects geological and paleontological, with the exception of vertebrate paleontology. Considering that my interests had always tended towards fossil vertebrates, I decided to expand my horizons by participating in student exchange programs with the University of Kansas, Louisiana State University and the University of Texas at Austin, and by undertaking a MS thesis project on a Solnhofen turtle under the supervision of Martin Sander at the University of Bonn.
Although I greatly enjoyed working with turtles for my MS, I was determined to move down the tree of life for my PhD, because basal reptiles fascinated me. My dissertation topic at Yale University was thus initially geared towards resolving basal toothed-reptilian relationships and addressing the placement of turtles within amniotes. However, the more I worked on this problem, the more I noticed that turtles themselves needed much more work before their phylogenetic placement could be understood. I thus came full circle and my dissertation focused on turtles after all.
In addition to my family and friends, I wish to thank a number of people for supporting me throughout my student career, in particular Paul Enos, Roger Kaesler and Larry Martin at the University of Kansas; Judy Schiebout at Louisiana State University; Martin Sander at the University of Bonn; Chris Bell and Tim Rowe at the University of Texas and my dissertation committee members at Yale University: Leo Hickey, Karl Turekian and Elisabeth Vrba. Most of all, however, I wish to thank my primary graduate advisor, Jacques Gauthier, for his uncomplicated collegial friendship, for providing me with the freedom to develop my own ideas, for our many inspiring discussions, and especially for his ability to truly understand my dissertation and provide me with qualified advice when needed.
I am particularly honored to be the recipient of the 2005 Romer Prize from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Walter Joyce, PhD
Div. of Vertebrate Paleontology
Yale Peabody Museum
170 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208118
New Haven, CT 06520-8118, USA
Photo courtesy of Walter Joyce.