The 2019 Roy Chapman Andrews Society
Distinguished Explorer

Neil Shubin

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.

Neil Shubin | Paleontologist

Finding Your Inner Fish

Award Ceremony and Acceptance Lecture:

Presentation by Neil Shubin, 2019 Distinguished Explorer

  • Friday, April 26th, 2019, 4:30 pm
  • Wilson Theatre in Mayer Hall, Beloit College
  • Public is welcome. Admission is FREE!
    (Bring the kids!)

Reception Dinner to follow.

Neil Shubin

Roy Chapman Andrews Lecture: April 26, 2019

Part 1

Part 2


Shubin shares the passion Andrews had as a communicator about science and discovery, writing with clarity and exuberance. He has authored more than 100 scientific publications as well as two popular science books. His first, Your Inner Fish, was named the best book of 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences and served as the basis of the Emmy Award-winning, three-part PBS series of the same name. His second, written in 2013 is entitled The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body, extending his investigation of the human body to the molecular level and the Big Bang!

After earning his Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University in 1987, Shubin completed a two-year postgraduate fellowship at UC Berkeley. His teaching career began at the University of Pennsylvania in 1989.

He moved to the University of Chicago in 2000 where he is the Robert R. Bensley Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy. His work has earned him widespread recognition, including membership in the United States National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Shubin will be the 18th recipient of the Distinguished Explorer Award. Polar climatologist Richard Alley received the Society’s most recent award in March of 2018. Other recipients receiving this prestigious award include Michael J. Novacek, leader of the first Western expedition to the Gobi Desert since Andrews’s research there during the 1920s that unearthed the first nest of fossilized dinosaur eggs; Steve Squyres, scientific principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover mission; and Robert Ballard, discoverer of the RMS Titanic shipwreck.

Reception Dinner

A celebratory reception and dinner honoring Neil Shubin will be held immediately following the acceptance lecture at Beloit College Sanger Science Center.
700 College St.

6:30 p.m. reception
7:00 p.m. dinner

Reservations are required and deadline is April 18

This is a popular event and is known to sell out. Advance reservations and tickets are required for this event.

Reception Dinner Reservations

Members — $60 per person (includes special seating at lecture)
Non-members — $75 per person
Students — $50 (dinner only)

Member table of (8) — $480 (special seating at lecture)
Student table of (8) — $600 (includes special seating at the lecture, private reception, photo opp & book signed by the recipient)
Corporate table of (8) — $600

Menu Choices

  • Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken with Grilled Tenderloin Kabob on a bed of curried rice.
  • Vegetarian – Sweet Potato & Grilled Brussel Sprouts Bowl with cranberry wild rice.
  • No-diary option: same with no cheese.

The Roy Chapman Andrews Society is a 501(c)(3) organization. To comply with the IRS requirements regarding charitable donations for contributions/donations in excess of any value of property or services, your payment is considered a tax-deductible donation.


Student Presentation

Neil Shubin’s Student Presentation

Learning to Love Discovery

Neil Shubin will share stories and discoveries with students while visiting Beloit to accept his award.

Earlier in the day he will present a program specifically geared for students. This presentation is coordinated with area schools and is held at Beloit Memorial High School.

Roy Chapman Andrews Society Student Program