2006 Preparators' Grant Recipient
Guntupalli V.R. Prasad
I was borne on 22 November 1958 in a farmer's family in Sekuru village of Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh state in southern India. In my formative years, I was inspired by late Dr. S. Subba Rao, Reader in Geology at Vikram University, Ujjain (Central India) and a native of my village, to elect Geology as a subject at graduation level. The interactions with him during his visits to our village and his briefings on how rocks are formed in nature and how the history of life can be gleaned from the rocks had generated considerable interest in me for Earth Sciences.
Later in 1982, the University Grants Commission (New Delhi) Junior Research Fellowship took me to the Centre of Advanced Study in Geology, Panjab University, Chandigarh in northern India where I pursued my doctoral research on the Late Cretaceous vertebrate fauna of Deccan intertrappean biota of Andhra Pradesh. At Panjab university, I received the basic training in vertebrate palaeontological research methodology under the tutelage of Prof. Ashok Sahni, a well known vertebrate palaeontologist of India.
After completing a PhD in 1986, I joined the faculty of the Geology Department at Jammu University, Jammu & Kashmir state, northern India. This was also the time during which a debate linking Deccan Volcanism to K/T boundary extinctions began. With the objective of understanding the effects of Deccan volcanism on contemporaneous biota at the actual site of eruption, I had worked on the biota from the sedimentary beds intercalated with Deccan volcanic flows in many parts of peninsular India. This led to the discovery of first Cretaceous mammals from India. Subsequently, I got interested in the evolution of vertebrate fauna on the Indian subcontinent during its northward journey and its implications for the palaeobiogeography of the Indian plate. In pursuance of these objectives, I have been working for several years on the Mesozoic vertebrate fauna of India, particularly Mesozoic mammals from the Upper Triassic Maleri Formation and Jurassic Kota Formation of Pranhita-Godavari valley, and several Lower and Upper Cretaceous formations of peninsular India. For the last two years, I have been trying to convince the authorities of Jammu University about the need to establish a Natural History Museum in Jammu and finally succeeded in getting a formal approval from the University. Hopefully the museum building will be completed by next year. The SVP Preparator's Grant will greatly help me in developing a preparation lab at the proposed museum and also in disseminating the knowledge gained during my training at AMNH to researchers and students from other Indian universities and research institutes. I express my deep sense of gratitude to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and the Preparators' Grant Committee for considering me worthy of this grant.
Photo courtesy of Guntupalli V.R. Prasad.