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Faculty in the Spotlight

Seth Finnegan with a fossil whale skull during CalDay 2018

Seth Finnegan at CalDay 2018, photo credit Lauren Fowler.

Congratulations to newly-tenured Associate Professor/curator Seth Finnegan! Seth will be honored at the GSA Annual Meeting this fall with the 2018 Paleontological Society's Charles Schuchert Award. The award honors an early career scientist whose paleontological work reflects excellence and quality, and is among the most prestigious awards an early career paleontologist can receive. Seth's research on the fossil record of marine invertebrates is highly integrative, relying on field collections, geochemical observations, and statistical analyses to unravel the drivers of macroevolutionary change on a variety of timescales, from late Neoproterozoic to present day.

During a research visit to Paul Valentich-Scott and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Carole Hickman discovered some important living and fossil mollusks in the collections. She was interviewed by Owen Duncan for a blog exploring her research, the nature of science and collections, and what happens behind the scenes in a natural history museum: Hickman's paper describing and illustrating UCMP fossils of a relict Mesozoic gastropod survivor in an Oregon subduction zone during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) appeared in April in PaleoBios (

UC Herbarium (UCH) curator Carl Rothfels, UCMP and UCH curator Cindy Looy, and two collaborators (Nathalie Nagalingum of the California Academy of Sciences, and Michael Sundue of the University of Vermont) have received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for an ambitious project examining vascular plant evolution. Their goals are to determine the relationships among the major lineages of all vascular plants, extant and fossil ones, and generate a timescale of their evolution.