Congratulations are in order for our very own Matthew Flinders Fellow, Professor Mike Lee!
The Verco medal, established by the Royal Society of South Australia is awarded for distinguished scientific work published by a Fellow. It is the highest honour that the Society can bestow. Only those who have made a significant, outstanding contribution to their field of study receive the award. Previous winners include the esteemed Prof Walter Howchin in 1929 (first medal awarded), HG Andrewartha, JB Cleland, and fellow earth scientists & palaeos Reg Sprigg, Michael Archer and Sir Douglas Mawson.
Mike Lee’s area of expertise earning him the Verco medal, covers just about every taxonomic group within palaeontology you can imagine. Mike has helped construct the family trees Cambrian arthropods from Emu Bay (Kangaroo Island), dinosaurs from the US, giant flightless birds from New Zealand, and snakes and lizards of Australia. Despite having worked on such a broad range of animals, Mike has a soft spot for reptiles, having completed his PhD on early turtle body plan evolution (published in Science) and afterwards travelled the world building a large collection of morphological characters for lizards and snakes to unravel their origins (just check out his Google Scholar page). He now acts as primary supervisor for the palaeontology students in our lab who want to work on fossil reptiles, or who are interested in how morphology and molecular evidence can be used to construct family trees. Mike’s true love is Bayesian methods, integrating probability into statistical analyses, which he believes is integral to the future of science.
For those of you who haven’t met Mike yet, he presented our Palaeo in the Pub: Dinosaurs with Wings this year, as well as a Sprigg Lecture at the South Australian Museum on a similar topic. Mike spends most of his days at the Museum but if you are interested in fossil reptiles or want to congratulate him on his award he will be at Flinders on Saturday evening for the Inaugural Wells Palaeontology Lecture & FUPS reception Celebrating 30 years of Palaeontology at Flinders.