Each year at this time, the Paleontological Research Institution is proud to recognize a non-professional for their contribution to the field of paleontology by presenting the Katherine Palmer Award, named after PRI’s second director, Katherine Palmer, who held avocational paleontologists in high regard and collaborated with many during her long career. PRI has presented this award almost every year since 1993. We are especially grateful to MAPS for providing us with this very special opportunity over much of that time.

Chris Garvie is a software developer in Austin, Texas, specializing in aerospace systems design, simulation, and testing. He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and grew up in Hamburg, Germany, and London, England. He majored in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Aberdeen. While studying at the University of Aberdeen, Chris took a course in geology and he credits that experience with setting him off on a lifelong path of discovery and passion for fossils. He collected his first fossils (Eocene mussels of the genus Mytilus) several years later while living in Seattle, Washington. Chris did not know at the time that these mussels, which he still has in his collection, would only be the tip of a very large iceberg. Since that time, Chris has had the opportunity to collect fossils from numerous sites around the world. In particular, and very fortunately for the field of paleontology, Chris ended up devoting a large part of the last two decades (totaling more than 1000 collecting trips) to exploring and (re)discovering the Eocene strata of Texas. These efforts have resulted in his significant contributions to the paleontology of the Paleogene of the western Gulf Coast. His 1996 monograph, published in PRI’s journal, Bulletins of American Paleontology, on the molluscan macrofauna of the Eocene Reklaw Formation of Texas stands as the most rigorous systematic documentation of the Paleogene macroinvertebrate fauna of the Gulf Coast since the classic monographic studies from the 1930s,40s, and 50s, including those by Gilbert Harris (PRI’s founder and first Director) and Katherine Palmer. It is a fitting tribute to Chris’s scientific contributions that his type specimens from the Eocene of Texas can be found at PRI alongside those of these intellectual predecessors.

Chris has amassed a collection of some 160,000 specimens in 15,000 lots, all curated and identified. The great value of this collection is that is that it is not only from the western Gulf Coast but also contains comparative material from the eastern Gulf and the Paris Basin, among other areas. His collection has proven to be a valuable reference source to other working in the Texas Paleogene. Equally important is his willingness to share his knowledge of collecting sites with visiting scholars and to provide specimens to paleontologsits working on specialized studies. Through his knowledge and experience, Chris has become the leading resource person for the local paleontology and stratigraphy — he’s the person whom visiting researchers seek out for assistance when starting to work in the region or doing a study that requires carefully collected samples.

It is with great pleasure that the PRI presents the 2008 Katherine Palmer Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the science by a non-professional to Chris Garvie.