About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2011 (Best Student Article) Matt Friedman, Martin Brazeau (Honorable Mention)
Like many other paleontologists, I can trace my interest in the subject to childhood visits to a local natural history museum.
However, there is a twist here: growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, the most impressive specimens (to me, anyway) on display weren't dinosaurs. Instead, they were the implausibly robotic carapaces of giant placoderms and stunningly well-preserved early sharks, both collected from Devonian rocks not far from my home. I would go on to meet the now late museum curator, Mike Williams, who encouraged me in his own quiet way to pursue my budding paleontological interests in a formal capacity.
During my time as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, I spent a summer as an intern at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian, working with Jim Tyler and Dave Johnson on Cenozoic teleosts. The next year, I tumbled back to more familiar parts of the geological column, and worked toward a MPhil at Cambridge on Devonian lungfishes from East Greenland under the supervision of Jenny Clack. These two experiences would go on to shape my PhD research at the University of Chicago. Supervised by Mike Coates, my thesis focused on the evolutionary radiation of spiny-finned teleosts in the Late Cretaceous and Paleogene, but there was plenty of additional research on deeper parts of the vertebrate fossil record to be done "off the books." It is from one of these side projects that my paper with Martin Brazeau on early bony fish relationships emerged.
It is an honor to have our contribution recognized for the Taylor & Francis Award. There are too many people and organizations to thank here, and I would almost certainly fail to recall at least a few important ones if I tried to list them all. Instead, I would like to single out my PhD supervisor Mike Coates. Now with students of my own, I have a newfound appreciation for Mike's exceptional patience, tolerance of me pilfering bits of his library, and willingness to let me take on projects outside my specified dissertation research.
Read Friedman's winning first-author article, "A reappraisal of the origin and basal radiation of the Osteichthyes"
View the 2011 Taylor & Francis Award for Best Student Article in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology honorable mention recipient.