2012 SVP Election Slate
Current Position: Vice President, Research and Collections, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California; plus Adjunct Professor positions at University of Southern California, and The Australian National University, Australia.
Previous Positions: 6 years in vertebrate palaeontology postdoctoral research (1984-89); 15 years as Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Western Australian Museum, Perth (1989-2004); 5 years as Head of Science at Museum Victoria, Australia before taking up my current position in 2009.
Education: BSc Hons 1981, and Ph.D 1984. Earth Sciences (Palaeontology), Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
Previous Service to SVP: Associate Editor, JVP 1991-1993; Member, Media Liaison Committee, 2009-present; Serving on Organizing Committee for 2013 SVP Meeting in Los Angeles since 2010.
Professional Service (non-SVP): Expert Examiner, Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage, for Australian Department of Heritage (advising government re: illegal fossils) 2002-present; Associate Editor, Records of the Western Australian Museum 1998-2003; Organizing Committee for CAVEPS (Conference on Australasian Vertebrate Evolution, Systematics and Palaeontology), Perth, Australia, 2007; Organising Committee for CAVEPS Melbourne, Museum Victoria; 2009; Organizing Committee, Evolution - The Experience. Melbourne Conference Centre, for 200th birthday of Charles Darwin.
Research Interests: I work with Paleozoic fishes and early tetrapods, focusing on anatomy, phylogeny and heterochrony. I have published widely, both papers and popular books, on nearly all groups of fossil fishes (placoderms, acanthodians, early osteichthyans, chondrichthyans), as well as work on dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, and fossil mammals.
Goals for SVP:
Although I’ve been a SVP member since my PhD days, some 30 years ago, due to living in Australia I could only afford to attend SVP meetings in recent years. I’m passionate about all aspects of Vertebrate Paleontology (I began collecting fossils at age 7), and especially in communicating science to the general public. To expand interest in VP we need to use paleontology as a wider platform to arouse interest in science at all community levels. But we must be imaginative to do this, for example I have used my VP expertise to craft educational novels for young children. I believe the future for VP is ensured if we seriously invest in our students. I feel there could be more jobs in VP in future if students can be trained in more cross-disciplinary skills when doing VP Ph.Ds (learning new laboratory skills in micro-CT, synchrotron imagery, biomechanics, animation, advanced chemical preparation methods etc), as well as through actively encouraging communities and state governments to establish more on-site small museums focused on eco-tourism. The future for VP will be also be brighter if we can develop more robust business models to convince universities and museums to seriously invest in VP research because the financial returns in terms of media coverage and grant strike rates for successful VP research teams are much higher than for most other areas of research.