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About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2017 Awardees 2017 (Cohen Award) Niels J. de Winter


My name is Niels de Winter, and I was born on the 12th of June 1990 in Enschede, the Netherlands. There, I grew up developing an interest in nature and science, participating in many outdoor  activities, most notably camping and hiking, and being an active member of the local scouting association. Not only increased my experience as a boy scout my curiosity and interest in how nature works, it also taught me to be open-minded in a diverse group of people with varying opinions and to take responsibility as a scouts leader.
 
I went to Utrecht to get my Bachelor’s degree in Earth Science and my MSc degree in Earth, Life and Climate (Biogeology and Geochemistry), obtaining high distinction (cum laude) in both. During my education in Utrecht I enjoyed many field classes in palaeontology and stratigraphy, which led me to focus my studies in that direction. My BSc thesis on Late Cretaceous cyclostratigraphy was published in Climate of the Past. During my MSc thesis I combined my knowledge of stratigraphy with a long- held passion for vertebrate palaeontology, working on the chemical analysis of late Eocene mammal molars from Bighorn Basin, Wyoming (USA) in the context of rapid greenhouse climate warming events. For this work I went on two fieldtrips to Bighorn Basin and spent three months at the University of Michigan to study the vertebrate collection.
 
As a continuation of my MSc thesis, in my PhD research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Brussels, Belgium, I focus on the question how the seasonal cycle has influenced the biosphere over geological timescales. It is my goal to combine techniques from paleontology, geochemistry and stratigraphy to study the expression of the annual cycle in fossil remains, with a focus on tooth enamel and calcitic marine bivalve shells. The AMGC labs at the VUB allow me to use state of the art techniques to reconstruct seasonal changes in environment and ecology on these interesting paleontological samples, which will shed more light on how Earth’s environment changed on a sub- annual scale over the geological timescale.