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About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2019 Awardees 2019 (Skinner Award) Robert Reynolds  



A life-long Californian, Bob Reynolds has always been fascinated with the Mojave Desert: its fossils, landforms, and biostratigraphy. His formal education in paleontology at the University of California, Riverside was guided by Dick Tedford: what an exciting time of learning. In 1967, Bob was hired as the first Curator of Earth Sciences at the San Bernardino County Museum. He wondered why the largest county in the nation had such a small collection of fossils and minerals. That would change.

In addition to building collections focused on inland southern California localities, Bob saw his job as curator as being a means to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for paleontology and geology. Beginning in 1970, he led public outreach programs through the museum, University of California Extension, and other non-profits, teaching Family Field Geology, mineral identification, and the “fossil class” to teach fossil preparation and field techniques. Bob and his crew of museum volunteers opened quarries in the Barstow Formation and elsewhere in the Mojave Desert, Arizona, and Nevada. By the late 1990s, his museum volunteers were logging 14,000 hours a year! It was these volunteers, along with Mike Woodburne, Dave Whistler, and Ev Lindsay, that helped put together the 1991 SVP field trip through the Mojave Desert.

With the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in 1970, Bob was asked to sit on the county’s Environmental Review Committee and Review Board to help assure that fossil resources were recognized and protected during land development activities. Through the museum, he developed sensitivity maps and guidelines for the protection of paleo resources adopted by San Bernardino and adjoining counties. These activities led to Woodburne (then SVP President) appointing Bob as chair of the SVP’s Conformable Impact Mitigation Committee.

Reynolds has been senior author of 203 papers and co-author of another 50. A mineral, Reynoldsite; an extinct Vallonia species; and a fossil gopher, Reynoldsomys timoteoensis, have been named for him.

Bob remains active in the Desert Symposium, which he helped found in the 1980s as the Mojave Desert Quaternary Research Symposium. Sixty years after his first exhibit at the SBCM, Reynolds is now himself a volunteer, supervising the paleo preparation lab at the museum, assisting in collections management and finding important fossil vertebrates as well as engaging the visiting public. He continues his interest in the development of the 55-mile-long trough filled by the Barstow Formation.