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PalAss Home > Awards and Grants > Lapworth Medal
Lapworth Medal

The Lapworth Medal is awarded by Council to a palaeontologist who has made a significant contribution to the science by means of a substantial body of research; it is not normally awarded on the basis of a few good papers. Council will look for some breadth as well as depth in the contributions in choosing suitable candidates.

The medal is normally awarded each year. Nominations are invited by 1 March each year. Nominations must be supported by a resume (single sheet of details) of the candidate's career, and further supported by a brief statement from each of two nominees. A list of 10 principal publications should accompany the nomination. The Council will reserve the right to not necessarily make an award in any one year. The Medal is presented at the Annual Meeting.

Nominations should be submitted by email to the secretary ( The resume, statements of support and publication lists should be attached in MS Word or PDF format.

The closing date for nominations is 1 March.

Previous recipients of the Lapworth Medal:

    2012 - Prof Ewan Clarkson
    2011 - Prof Richard Aldridge
    2010 - Dr L. R. M. Cocks
    2009 - Prof. Bruce Runnegar
    2008 - Prof. Charles Holland
    2007 - Prof. Tony Hallam
    2006 - Prof. Dolf Seilacher
    2005 - Prof. William Gilbert Chaloner FRS
    2004 - Prof. Jim Valentine
    2002 - Sir Alwyn Williams FRS
    2000 - Prof. H. B. Whittington FRS

2009 Lapworth Medal:

    Council awarded Professor Bruce Runnegar the 2009 Lapworth Medal. Professor Runnegar has been one of the most innovative researchers of his generation; the endurance of his research is a testament to its visionary nature. Taxonomic works in palaeontology have a long ‘half-life’ of course, but review papers normally burn brightly and quickly. Runnegar has published his fair share of taxonomic studies, elucidating the early evolutionary history of molluscs. He also has an enviable back-catalogue of reviews and opinion pieces, including works on the Cambrian Explosion, molecular clocks and disparity. Unusually, these remain as relevant and inspirational today as when they were published, many of them decades ago, and they continue to accrue citations as a result. Runnegar’s vision was ultimately distilled in the written account of his 1985 address to the Palaeontological Association in which he stated argued that palaeontology is a discipline concerned with fundamental questions, that the most appropriate dataset to answer these questions is not always to be found in lumps of rock, and that all relevant data and methods should be brought to bear in attempts to resolve these questions. Professor Runnegar is now Director of the UCLA Astrobiology Center, and of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

2008 Lapworth Medal:

    Council awarded Professor Charles Holland the 2008 Lapworth Medal in recognition of his long and glittering career. Charles Holland has been at the forefront of research on the palaeontology and stratigraphy of the Lower Palaeozoic in a career extending over 50 years. His broad research interests include Silurian stratigraphy, particularly of Ireland and Britain; Silurian faunas, particularly nautiloids and graptolites; the geology of Ireland; the methodology of stratigraphy; and the concept of geological time. His publication list stretches to over 150 scientific articles and three books. Professor Holland has made a huge contribution in the area of correlation and standardisation of terminology of Silurian rocks throughout the globe, and was the driving force behind two editions of The Geology of Ireland. His palaeontological studies, especially monographic studies of Ordovician and Silurian nautiloid faunas, have continued into recent years.

2007 Lapworth Medal:

    Council awarded Professor Tony Hallam the 2007 Lapworth Medal in recognition of his achievements in palaeoboiology. Tony Hallam has been one of the giants of British palaeontology in the second half of the twentieth century. He began writing papers as a schoolboy and never stopped; his published article output currently stands at 189. His citation statistics are equally impressive, “The fit of the southern continents” published in Nature with A.G. Smith, having accrued nearly 400. Hallam’s work has been varied and often ahead of its time. His PhD work on the Lower Jurassic Blue Lias Formation was the first to recognise and undertake trace fossils analysis in the UK. His investigations of the origins of small-scale cyclicity in the 1960s included an early the highlighting of the importance of diagenetic overprint. Hallam made numerous key contributions to sea-level analysis and in particular to our understanding of Jurassic eustasy, predating the sequence stratigraphic bandwagon that began rolling in the late 1980s. He is the world expert on the end-Triassic and early Jurassic (Toarcian) mass extinction events. Hallam’s contribution to evolutionary studies has also been immense and includes his early work on the evolution of Gryphaea and subsequent collaborations with Steven Jay Gould. Finally, he has inspired and collated a number of high profile edited volumes, often cross-cutting traditionally delimited subject matters. These works include the 1973 Atlas of Palaeobiogeography, a major tome incorporating many highly cited papers that mark the onset of active research fields.

2006 Lapworth Medal:

    Prof. Dolf Seilacher is one of the world’s most renowned invertebrate palaeontologists, widely celebrated for his visionary and inspired interpretations of the fossil record. He has made his most significant contributions to four areas of palaeontology: trace fossils, morphodynamics, the study of exceptionally preserved fossil deposits (Lagerstätten), and Ediacaran assemblages. In the latter he is especially recognised for proposing the innovative (and controversial) hypothesis of the Vendobionta. In each of these fields he has stimulated research with fundamental discoveries and iconoclastic interpretations. In 1992 he was awarded the Crafoord Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which is arguably the closest an earth scientist can get to being a Nobel Laureate. Some of his most cited work has been in the field of morphodynamics, recently acknowledged at his 80th birthday symposium, organised in Yale. Dolf’s major contribution to our understanding of the evolution of morphology was in emphasizing that function is an important but far from complete explanation of organic form. He formalized this realization in 1970 as Konstruktions-Morphologie (constructional morphology), recognizing the influence of phylogeny and architecture in addition to adaptation. This ‘triangular’ approach was very influential at a time when there was little interest in constraints on the evolution of form. In 1990, twenty years on, Dolf expanded the triangle to include an environmental dimension, although this can not be measured directly and is important mainly conceptually. He has applied the methods of constructional morphology to a range of organisms from vendobionts to barnacles, from clams to crinoids. Dolf illuminates his results with the iconography of his line drawings and his unique explanatory terminology. Dolf’s influence on our science is evidenced by the infiltration of his terminology into our everyday working vocabulary – constructional morphology, Lagerstätten and vendobionts. There is no other European palaeontologist more richly deserving of the career recognition that the Lapworth Medal bestows.

2005 Lapworth Medal:

    Council awarded Professor William (Bill) Chaloner FRS the 2005 Lapworth Medal in recognition of his lifetime contributions to palaeobotany over more than 50 years. Bill Chaloner has had an enormous influence on the development of palaeobotany in this country and abroad, always seeing the bigger picture – and always striving to expand the relevance of palaeobotany to questions of broader biological and geological significance. Some of the areas in which he has pioneered new approaches are: integration of the palynological and macropalaeobotanical record by studies of in situ pollen and spores, the early application of scanning electron microscopy to studies of plant fossils, the use of fossil plants in determining ancient climates – including the history of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the study of plant–animal interactions in the geological record. In addition, he is a world authority on Palaeozoic plants and especially lycopods.

Created by Alan R.T. Spencer on the 2010-01-25. (Version 2.0)