Neil Shubin has been named the recipient of the 2019 Roy Chapman Andrews Society Distinguished Explorer Award. Shubin is an internationally renowned paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and science communicator whose discoveries have led to ground-breaking advances in understanding the origin of organs in the human body and the connectiveness of all life.
The explorer will share stories about his discoveries made on expeditions to five continents in his acceptance speech, “Finding Your Inner Fish,” during his award ceremony on Friday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilson Theatre in Mayer Hall on the Beloit College campus. Earlier that day he will present a program called “Learning to Love Discovery” for area youth at Beloit Memorial High School. These programs honor the Andrews legacy and are sponsored by members and supporters of the Society. Distinguished explorers receive a cash prize and a commemorative statue created by noted regional artist O. V. Shaffer.
Shubin, along with colleagues Ted Daeschler and Farish Jenkins, discovered Tiktaalik rosea, a 375-million-year-old “fish with hands.” Such transitional fossils, discovered during extensive and careful field study in Greenland, Canada, Argentina, China, Morocco, the deserts of the U.S. and, currently, Antarctica, are key to Shubin’s research focusing on the evolution of limbs and new organ systems of vertebrates. In addition to employing fossils, Shubin supports his evolutionary hypotheses using genetics, developmental biology, and comparative anatomy.