It is with pleasure and honor that the Paleontological Research Institution presents its 2004 Gilbert Harris Award to LouElla R. Saul.

The Harris Award is presented annually by PRI in recognition of excellence in contributions to systematic paleontology, to a scientist who, through outstanding research and commitment to the centrality of systematics in paleontology, has made a significant contribution to the science.

LouElla Saul received her BA in music from UCLA in 1947, and her MA in geology from UCLA in 1959. She became manager of the UCLA Invertebrate Paleontology and the Recent mollusk collections in 1965, and did so until they were transferred to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in 1985. She was collections manager in Invertebrate Paleontology at the LACM until 1993 when massive staff cuts forced her to become an unpaid Research Associate. Undaunted, her molluscan research not only continued but accelerated.

LouElla is a specialist in Cretaceous and Paleogene mollusks, and she has published more than 50 papers on them since 1959. She has published more than 30 papers, including several large monographs, just since 1992.

Her work is characterized by its taxonomic breadth and its careful attention to detail. She has written papers on a wide array of gastropod and bivalve groups, as well as a few ammonoids, from both biostratigraphic and paleobiological perspectives. In many cases, she works on groups (like unornamented bivalves or gastropods) that others have ignored because they are so difficult to decipher. One of her specialities is the meticulous cleaning of specimens that most people would never bother with; yet, these cleaned specimens pay off in the information they provide. She often spends enormous amounts of time cleaning hinges and apertures, looking for diagnostic characters. Most of her work has been on the abundant and diverse faunas of California, but she has also worked on material from Mexico, Antarctica, Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, and British Columbia. She has paid particular attention to the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, and conducted some of the very few phylogenetic studies of mollusk lineages across this mass extinction.

LouElla is also known for unselfishly and patiently helping others, both professionals and amateurs, by providing help in the cleaning or identification of specimens. Representative is her recent co-authoring of a paper on Eocene echinoids with a friend who was ill but who needed to write up her findings. The friend died last month, but LouElla will see that the paper gets finished. She also frequently spends time introducing school children and community groups to the fun and scientific adventure of collecting fossils.