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About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2015 Awardees 2015 (Romer-Simpson Medal) Jim Hopson


James Allen Hopson (b. 1935) earned his BS in Geology at Yale (1957) and his PhD at the University of Chicago (1964) working with Everett C. Olson (the first recipient of the Romer-Simpson Medal). His dissertation work on tritylodonts from the Early Jurassic Lower Lufeng Formation of China was the beginning of a life-long devotion to the study of mammal-like reptiles and the origin of mammals. From 1964-1967 he worked at Yale’s Peabody Museum as an NSF-funded Curatorial Assistant /Associate, where he began a collaboration with A.W. Crompton (Romer-Simpson Medal awardee) that culminated in a seminal paper on mammal origins, followed by his own seminal paper. In contrast with the predominant view at the time, including that of Olson, they convincingly argued that mammals had a monophyletic origin, a hypothesis that has stood the test of time. In 1967 he returned to the University of Chicago to take a faculty position in the Anatomy Department (now Organismal Biology and Anatomy), where in the following decades he helped develop what became one of the strongest programs in evolutionary anatomy in the world. His research on mammal-like reptiles took him and his family to South Africa beginning in 1971 and continuing for decades, where he collaborated with renowned collector James Kitching (recipient of the Morris Skinner Award). His first-hand study of the vast collections of therapsids in South Africa gave him an unparalleled knowledge of these pivotal fossils, which he applied in widely-cited papers on therapsid classification and phylogeny. His work on therapsids and early mammal evolution continued after his retirement, including his current work with Thomas Rich on Australian Cretaceous monotremes. His research interests ranged beyond mammal-like reptiles to include ground-breaking work on the endocasts of fossil reptiles and an interpretation of hadrosaur cranial crests as display structures, as well as papers on anaspid swimming, tooth-replacement, basal ornithischian dinosaurs, and the evolution of endothermy. His other contributions to paleontology include editing and co-editing the flagship journal Paleobiology during its crucial early years (1977-1983) and serving as SVP President in 1984. As documented in the many letters of support for this nomination he was an excellent mentor both scientifically and as a human being to his many students and to numerous others.