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Virginia Tech geobiologist wins Schuchert Award

Blacksburg, Va. - Michal Kowalewski, associate professor of geosciences at Virginia Tech, has been named the recipient of this year's Charles Schuchert Award by the Paleontological Society. The award is bestowed annually to a scientist under the age of 40 whose work reflects excellence and promise in the science of paleontology.

Kowalewski collects paleontological and geological data over a wide range of time scales to study such diverse topics as ecological interactions of ancient predators and their fossil prey and long-term evolutionary patterns. His research program is based on quantitative data acquired in the field and from museum collections and published literature.

"Michal weaves together the field-based, specimen-based, theory-based and analytical approaches to our discipline," said Karl Flessa, professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona, who was Kowalewski's doctoral advisor. "In doing so, he draws from each approach's strengths to compensate for the other's weaknesses."

Kowalewski was also praised for his work with students, particularly graduate students, in assisting them with their professional development.

"Since his arrival at Virginia Tech in 1998, Michal has further energized a long-excellent program in paleobiology," said interim department head Robert Tracy. "He has brought in an outstanding group of graduate students and has led in our development of a strategic planning initiative in Earth Systems studies that is aimed to place Virginia Tech geosciences firmly at the forefront of U.S. doctoral programs in that area."

In recently published work, Kowalewski and his research team report on what brachiopod shells from 550 to 250 million years ago can tell us about predators' struggle to survive. Since brachiopods (lampshells) don't provide much nourishment, when they fell victim to predators, it was likely due to bad menu choices, lots of competition, or other edibles figuring out how to avoid
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Contact: Catherine Doss
cdoss@vt.edu
540-231-5035
Virginia Tech
7-Nov-2005


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