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Geological Sciences professors Drs. Luis Buatois (PhD), left, and Brian Pratt (PhD) were recently presented with medals recognizing their contributions to the fields of paleontology and sedimentology. (Photos by Kristen McEwen)

USask paleontologists awarded prestigious national, international medals

Geological Sciences professors Luis Buatois and Brian Pratt were recognized for their work on an international and national scale

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By Kristen McEwen

Two professors in the College of Arts and Science have recently been presented with esteemed awards recognizing their work in the fields of paleontology and sedimentology. Both faculty members are in the Department of Geological Sciences.  

Dr. Luis Buatois (PhD) was presented with an international award from the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) in October. He received the SEPM Raymond C. Moore Medal in recognition of “Excellence in Paleontology.”

SEPM Raymond C. Moore Medal
Buatois received the SEPM Raymond C. Moore Medal in recognition of “Excellence in Paleontology.”

“I was quite surprised because I didn’t know that I had been nominated,” Buatois said. “I feel deeply honoured as some of my intellectual heroes and fellow paleontologists who have been a huge influence on my career were awarded the same medal in the past.

“I still have a hard time believing that I was awarded this medal,” he added. 

Buatois received the medal during the SEPM Awards ceremony as part of the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Denver, Colo. 

Individuals selected for the medal have a significant record of outstanding contributions in paleontology. Raymond C. Moore established a key objective of SEPM, which is to promote research in paleontology and evolution, and using fossils for interpretations of paleoecology. 

Buatois was selected for “his remarkable and influential contributions to the advancement of trace fossil research.” He also was recognized for his mentorship of students and young scientists and encouragement to pursue a career in paleontology, as well as his service to the global paleontological community. 

Middleton Medal
Pratt recently received the Middleton Medal for Sedimentology.

Dr. Brian Pratt (PhD) recently received the Middleton Medal for Sedimentology, a national award which is presented biannually by the Canadian Sedimentology Research Group of the Geological Association of Canada.  

“I was thrilled,” Pratt said of his reaction when he learned he had been selected for the award. “(Sedimentology) is not big community but I think it’s a pretty big recognition.”   

This national medal is named in honour of Gerard V. Middleton, an award-winning Canadian pioneer in academic sedimentology at the international level. It is presented every two years to recognize “long-term contributions to any aspect of sedimentology by a Canadian or a sedimentology researcher working in Canada.” 

Pratt also had a personal connection to Middleton, who happened to be one of his professors at McMaster University.  

“I was very lucky when I was an undergrad and he was teaching there,” Pratt said. “We knew that our professors, including Middleton, were the best in their fields and just amazing.”  

Pratt’s current research focuses on both sedimentology and paleontology, at a time when most are specialized in one subject only. 

“(Middleton) was a great inspiration for me,” Pratt said. “He wasn’t my mentor in the strict sense, he was just one of the great profs who just taught us fascinating stuff.”  


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