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About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2018 Awardees 2018 (Romer-Simpson Medal) Dr. Anna K. Behrensmeyer


Anna Katherine (Kay) Behrensmeyer is a Research Curator and Senior Scientist in the Department of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.  She was an undergraduate geology major at Washington University, St. Louis and then specialized in vertebrate paleontology under Bryan Patterson at Harvard University.  Kay is recognized as a pioneer in taphonomy, and her research is broadly aimed at understanding the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems over the past 300+ million years.  Her career has been inspired by many wonderful field experiences and collaborators and in North America, Africa, and Pakistan, ranging up and down the geological time column from the Permian to the Pleistocene.  She has explored temporal versus spatial averaging in the fossil record and has designed methods for sampling paleontological sites aimed at understanding taphonomic biases.  A significant part her research has focused on reconstructing the paleoecology of human evolution in East Africa.  Kay’s experiments and observations in modern ecosystems and fluvial environments have advanced knowledge of taphonomic processes that alter and recycle organic remains.  Her 40+ year study of the “taphosystem” of Amboseli Park, Kenya, shows how changing ecological processes affect the skeletal record and links between the living, the dead, the buried and fossilized. She is a leader of the Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems (ETE) Program and contributes to NMNH exhibits and outreach efforts, including the Deep Time Initiative.  Kay was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2011 and received R. C. Moore Medal (SEPM) in 2016.