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About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2012 Awardees 2012 (Honorary Membership Award) - Elwyn Simons  

Dr. Elwyn L. Simons is primarily interested in the history, general biology, and behavior of living and extinct primates. His research focuses on the early evolution of anthropoids in the late Eocene and early Oligocene of the Fayum Depression, Egypt, and the paleoecology, dating, taphonomy, anatomy, and relationships of extinct placentals from these sites and, jointly with others, conducted dating, behavioral and conservation studies of extant Malagasy lemurs; the evolutionary history and relationships of apes, as well as Plio-Pleistocene hominins. Dr. Simons has led over 70 field expeditions to Egypt, Madagascar, India, Iran, Nepal, and Wyoming. During a 55 year long career, his research was supported by awards of over $4,000,000.00. He has held professional appointments at Yale University (1960-1977), Duke University (1977- present), and was the Director of the Duke Primate Center (1977-1991) and Scientific Director (1991- 2001). With various co-authors and alone he has authored nearly 340 scientific publications and 4 books. He is the holder of many honors. Dr. Simons belongs to the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, as well as many other professional associations. He was elected a “Knight of the National Order” by the government of Madagascar and has been the recipient of many awards including an award for Lifetime Achievement from the AAPA.  His areas of interest are many: including paleoanthropology and general paleontology of the Fayum, Egypt, anthropoid evolution as well as the biology and behavior of living and fossil primates, the diversification of archaic mammals, the origin and radiation of both anthropoideans and hominins, and in primate conservation and behavior.  He, with coauthors, contributed to understanding primate history, dating and paleo-environmental context, particularly of Eocene primates of Europe and North America and of the wide variety of Eocene/Oligocene primates from Egypt including the earliest well-known higher primates. These contributions deal particularly with the timing and nature of anthropoid origins and diversification. Over the years, he has published extensively about the Old World radiation of Miocene-Pliocene apes and its relationship to human origins. He organized several symposia on hominins, and he held a life-long interest in both researching and teaching about aspects of hominin evolution. He contributed much to details of primate classification and also carried out projects concerning  the description, classification, behavior, reproduction, and captive conservation of living prosimians as well as anatomy, dating, environments, and causes of extinction of the giant lemurs. He has long supported primate conservation.