Mark Wilson grew up in Toronto, Canada, where he attended the University of Toronto in honours geology and zoology. He received his BSc in 1968. Important early experiences include four summers with by the Geological Survey of Canada, in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, in the Atlantic Provinces, in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, and on a geophysical research cruise to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Having been introduced to vertebrate paleontology by Loris S. Russell, Mark enrolled in graduate school under Russell's supervision in the Geology Department and the Royal Ontario Museum, receiving his MSc in 1970. After Loris Russell's retirement, Mark was supervised by A. Gordon Edmund and received his PhD in 1974. The subject of both MSc and PhD was the Eocene freshwater fishes of British Columbia.
Mark worked for one year as assistant professor at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, before moving to Alberta to take a position in the Department of Zoology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, where he has remained ever since. He is now a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and curator of fossil fishes in the Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology. Mark taught vertebrate paleontology for many years with R. C. Fox, along with chordate anatomy. Mark and Joe Nelson established a course in principles of systematics that Mark continues to teach today, along with paleontology of the lower vertebrates and mechanisms of evolution.
Research early in Mark's academic career emphasized freshwater fish fossils of Eocene and Paleocene age, with additional examples from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, together with studies of taphonomy. Beginning in 1989, Mark developed an interest in the paleontology of early vertebrates and the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates, publishing on fossils of heterostracans, thelodonts, osteostracans, acanthodians and putative early chondrichthyans from the Silurian and Devonian of northern Canada and elsewhere. The incredible diversity and excellent preservation at the MOTH locality in the Mackenzie Mountains, Northwest Territories, has led to many important discoveries. His undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have written theses and published on early vertebrates, fish taphonomy, systematics of Mesozoic and Tertiary fishes, and the osteology and phylogeny of extant fishes.
Mark was an active participant in IGCP (UNESCO International Geological Program) 328 and 491, and was co-leader of IGCP 406 (Circum-Arctic Palaeozoic Vertebrates), a role that involved organizing meetings and collaborations in Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Scotland and Sweden. He also publishes a newsletter and Web site for international researchers on Mesozoic fishes, participates in the international meetings on early/lower vertebrates and on Mesozoic fishes, has served on committees for the Alberta Government and the Geological Society of Canada, and has co-hosted a meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Mark's SVP involvement began with the 1969 meeting at AMNH, New York. He has served on the Membership Committee, the Program Committee, and the Publications Committee, of which he is currently the chair. His involvement with the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology has included terms as associate editor, co-editor, senior editor and most recently receiving editor.
Photo courtesy of Mark V. H. Wilson.