During the 1930s Newell became an internationally recognized authority on fossil bivalve mollusks, his core specialty. His research style and publications served as models for young invertebrate paleontologists engaged in changing the scope and image of their discipline. His 1937 and 1942 monographs on the late Paleozoic pelecypods were breakthroughs in the incorporation of sophisticated biological information and perspectives in the interpretation of form and function of fossil invertebrates. Several decades later he brought to completion the two multi-authored Bivalvia volumes of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology. These books still serve as the single most important reference on fossil bivalve mollusks. Additionally, he applied pioneering work on modern carbonate sediments to a seminal study of the west Texas Permian reef complex.
Newell began his career in 1929 as an assistant geologist at the Kansas Geological Survey. He then moved to teaching as an assistant professor of geology at the University of Kansas, followed by an associate professorship at the University of Wisconsin in 1937 and finally a professor of geology at Columbia University from 1945 until 1977. During the same period he was also a curator at the American Museum of Natural History.
Published in 1982, his book Creation and Evolution: Myth or Reality? is still considered one of the strongest rebuttals to creationism as science.
Contact: Laura Stafford
American Geological Institute