UCR professor of Earth and planetary sciences, Mary L. Droser, has been awarded the 2022 National Academy of Sciences Award in Early Earth and Life Sciences. This award is also known as the Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal.  

According to their website, the NAS is a “private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology.”

Dr. Droser is a professor and paleontologist that has several scholarly publications and received her Ph.D. at the University of Southern California. Through her research, she has made discoveries on Ediacaran-Paleozoic life that has helped scholars better understand early animals and how they lived. 

The NAS Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal award was established in 2008 and combines two medals. The award combines presentation between the Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal for research on Cambrian or pre-Cambrian life and the Stanley Miller Medal which recognizes research on Earth’s early development as a planet, including prebiotic chemistry and the origin of life.

Dr. Droser’s research has found information about the earliest animal-dominated marine communities through her sustained focus on the role of bioturbation and microbial interactions. She also has a long-term project in South Australia where Ediacaran fossil beds were excavated, studied and preserved. 

The work that Dr. Droser completed has allowed for more insight into the fossil records of the Ediacaran, Cambrian and Ordovician faunas. Ediacaran fossils give record to the first known multicellular animal life on Earth, the Cambrian time period is when most of the major groups of animals first appeared in the fossil record, and the Ordovician period is when early vertebrates were found. 

In 2020 Dr. Droser received the Doctoral Dissertation Advisor and Mentor Award from the University of California Riverside. This award is another important milestone for her and the UCR campus.