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Future Research Directions in Paleontology—a stimulus for new research funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation

January 31, 2008


The report posted below is about paleobiological research opportunities that might garner new research funds from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). I encourage you to read it carefully. The proposed ideas and new programs result from several community-wide discussions held during 2005 and 2006 by invertebrate paleontologists, vertebrate paleontologists and paleobotanists at our annual meetings, culminating in an NSF-sponsored workshop in Washington, D.C. in April, 2006. Members of the Paleontological Society initiated these efforts, organized the workshop and wrote much of this report. Whether or not you agree with the specific research programs proposed here, this report points out many ways in which paleobiologists can collaborate effectively across the paleontological disciplines and among the different professional societies and increase the impact of our field on the public.

The mandate for this report and the proposed research initiatives has come from Dr. H. Richard Lane, one of the program officers in the Sedimentary Geology & Paleontology Program, Earth Sciences Division, at NSF. He has urged the U.S. paleontological research community at large to develop cross-cutting research initiatives that will attract substantial new funds. These initiatives must offer significant advances in research synthesis, approaches or field and analytical methods. The new initiatives must have broad support from the paleontological community across its disciplines.

Members of SVP have made important contributions to this report and the activities that led up to it. Going forward, it is critical for SVP to increase its involvement in this effort to enhance the resource base for research at NSF. Three members of the SVP Executive Committee (myself, Annalisa Berta and Mike Gottfried) will attend the annual meeting of the Paleontological Society Council in March to discuss how to move forward on the topics of this report. We welcome your ideas and comments. Please send them to Annalisa Berta ( or Mike Gottfried (

Thank you.

Catherine Badgley
President, SVP

Read the Future Research Directions in Paleontology report.