Office of University Relations
SDSM& T News
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Phone: ( 605) 394- 6082/ 2554 • Fax: ( 605) 394- 6177
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 1999
TECH FACULTY MEMBER PRESENTED WITH DISCOVERY SCIENCE AWARD
RECOGNIZING HIS ACHIEVEMENTS IN RESEARCH
The Discovery Channel Europe and the Royal Geographical Society ( the UK counterpart to the National Geographic Society) presented Dr. James Martin, Professor and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Museum of Geology, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology ( SDSM& T) with the Discovery Science Award at an awards dinner today at the Royal Geographical Society ( with the Institute of British Geographers) in London, England. The Discovery Science Award recognizes major scientific achievements and highlights those individuals or teams whose work has pushed back the limits of our knowledge.
Martin was selected for his research in Antarctica regarding the discovery of the fossilized remains of huge aquatic reptiles and dinosaurs in the remote Vega and Seymour Island of the Antarctica Peninsula area. Martin and his scientific colleagues, Dr. Judd Case from St. Mary’s College in California, Dr. Dan Chaney of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Dr. Al Kihm from Minot State, North Dakota, and Dr. Mike Woodburne from the University of California at Riverside, found the tooth of a duck- billed dinosaur - the first such fossil ever discovered on the continent of Antarctica. In addition, they discovered a portion of a leg bone from the continent’s most ancient bird, and the remains of two giant marine reptiles, the mosasaur and plesiosaur and those of their young. Participation of Martin and his colleagues was funded principally through the National Science Foundation��s Office of Polar Programs.
The discovery of the fossilized remains provide evidence supporting the theory of an ancient land bridge connecting Antarctica to the Americas. This land bridge may have been used not only by dinosaurs but also by marsupial mammals in their emigration from the Americas to Australia via Antarctica when the continents were closer together.
“ I am indeed honored by this award,” said Martin. “ It is very gratifying to know that someone in the world appreciates the efforts that scientists are making to the betterment of our civilizations. The preservation and understanding of past life enables us to understand our
own destiny,” he added.
Martin, a native of Edgemont, South Dakota, received his Bachelor of Science in geology from SDSM& T in 1971, and his Master of Science in paleontology from SDSM& T in 1973. He went on to earn his PhD in geology from the University of Washington. Martin returned to South Dakota in 1979.
Michael Palin presented this year’s Discovery Channel Awards given in three different
categories: Discovery Inspiration Award; Lifetime Discovery Award; and Discovery Science Award.
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The Discovery Inspiration Award was presented to David Constantine. The award recognizes great communicators who have inspired others to discover and understand the fascinating world in which we all live. Constantine, a quadriplegic, has very clearly displayed courage, selflessness and ambition in motivating his company to design and build wheelchairs for people in lesser- developed countries.
The Lifetime Discovery Award was presented to Professor Sir Ghillean Prance. It rewards the commitment to understanding efforts of someone who has successfully devoted themselves to a lifetime spent in developing our knowledge of the environment, or in raising awareness, enthusiasm and understanding in others about the world and our responsibility to it. Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, who has just retired as Director of Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England, has made a huge contribution to our understanding of the world, and has been a exemplary figurehead at the Botanical Gardens on expeditions and in the many other projects he has been, and is currently involved in.
The prestigious Discovery Science Award has been given to honor the achievements of other notables including Jane Goodall for her work with gorillas in the mist. The
winner of each award has chosen a charity or cause that will receive £ 5000 from the Discovery Channel.
In addition to participating in expeditions to Antarctica, Martin also leads paleontology expeditions through the SDSM& T Museum of Geology each year. These are held in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Oregon and are open to the public. The Museum of Geology will host an evening with Dr. Martin on Friday, December 10 to discuss his expeditions to Antarctica. Contact the Museum for additional details at ( 605) 394- 2467.
* Photos taken at the awards ceremony will be available on Thursday, November 4 from the Office of University and Public Relations.
** Dr. Martin will be available beginning Monday, November 7 for interviews. Contact the Office of University and Public Relations at ( 605) 394- 6082/ 2554 for further information or to arrange an interview.
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