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About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2011 Awardees 2011 (Estes Memorial Grant) Ryoko Matsumoto

It is a great honor to receive the Richard Estes Memorial Grant, and this prize gives me a much appreciated boost and supportive push for continuing my professional career path to being a scientist.

Biology and Vertebrate Paleontology have been attractive subjects to me since I was a little girl. For my BS in 2003 I read Agriculture at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, which provided a good appreciation and background in biology and the environment. After the graduation, I decided to study Vertebrate Paleontology, focusing on fresh water fossil reptiles from Japan. In order to expand my knowledge and understanding of geology, I moved to geological department of Waseda University. Here in 2005 I received my BSC under the supervision of Professor Hiromichi Hirano (Waseda University) and Dr Makoto Manabe (National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo) with a thesis on “A new choristoderan reptile from the Lower Cretaceous Tetori Group, Japan”. Concurrently (1999-2005) I worked in the National Museum of Nature and Science Tokyo as a part-time research assistant to Dr Makoto Manabe. This experience gave me the opportunity to learn research skills and get involved with educational programs for children.

In 2006, I started my PhD program at University College London, under supervision of Professor Susan Evans on “The evolutionary and functional morphology of the skull and neck in Choristodera”. This subject has allowed me to develop a few ideas from my BS project but also learn some valuable methods and techniques such as muscle dissection and phylogenetic analysis. The Estes Memorial Grant will be used to support a visit to the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, where I will examine and measure a collection of well-preserved choristoderan specimens. The resulting data will be combined with other data collected during my PhD from collections in Beijing, Paris, Stuttgart and Brussels and allow me to test specific hypotheses regarding the neck flexibility in long-snouted Choristodera.

I would like to thank the Committee of the Estes Memorial Grant for this opportunity. For support during my PhD I am grateful to many people but in particular Professor Susan Evans for her patient supervision and very helpful suggestions.

Photo courtesy of Ryoko Matusmoto.