Norman Newell Early Career Grant Program

Dr. Norman Newell (1909-2005) was a pioneer in bridging geological and biological approaches to paleontology. His research focused on bivalve systematics, paleoecology and sedimentary geology of modern and ancient reefs, and the study of evolution, including mass extinctions. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he served as President of Paleontological Society (1960-1961) and was awarded the GSA Penrose Medal, SEPM Raymond C. Moore Medal, and Paleontological Society Medal, among many others.

Eligibility: Paleontologists who completed their Ph.D. within the last five years, who are members in good standing of the Paleontological Society, may apply for a Norman Newell grant. Applications are encouraged from anywhere in the world, except those from countries with economic or trade sanctions imposed by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The Norman Newell grants complement the Arthur Boucot grants, and preference is therefore given to research projects in areas not covered by the Arthur Boucot grant topical areas of morphology, taxonomy, and biostratigraphy. Applicants can only apply to one of these Early Career Grants per funding year. To broaden the reach of Paleontological Society funds, recipients of a Norman Newell grant may not apply for an Arthur Boucot grant, nor may they apply for a second Norman Newell grant. Similarly, recipients of an Arthur Boucot grant may not apply for a Norman Newell grant.

Awards: Four Norman Newell grants of $5,000 each will be made each year. The number and size of awards may be adjusted in subsequent years at the discretion of the Paleontological Society Council. Awards are made directly to individuals and not to institutions, and awards cannot be used for salary, stipends, tuition, or institutional overhead.

Application: Applications for a Norman Newell Grant must include a proposal and letters of recommendation, as described below. All materials must be typed, and in English.

The proposal consists of four parts, which must be emailed as a single pdf file to the committee chair (Dr. Phil Novack-Gottshall, Department of Biological Sciences, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL 60532 USA, [email protected]). The cover sheet and research proposal application template can be download here.

  1. Cover Sheet. Complete all items on the cover sheet, including your name, email address, institutional address, telephone number, and the names and addresses of two professional paleontologists who are writing your letters of support.
  2. Research proposal. The proposal is limited to five pages, single-spaced in no less than 10 pt. font. The proposal must include a project title, an abstract, and a description of the research question, methods, and significance. Figures and tables may be included. The proposal must also contain a list of references, an itemized research budget, and a budget justification, all of which count towards the five-page limit.
  3. Curriculum vitae (CV), limited to two pages. The CV should include your name, education, current professional position, and selected publications. Additional information, such as employment history, awards, participation in international conferences, and other projects may also be included.
  4. PS Professional Conduct Form.  Please submit a  PS Professional Conduct Self-Reporting Form as prescribed in the Paleontological Society Policy on Non-Discrimination and Member Code of Conduct.  The completed form should be submitted to [email protected].  If, for any reason, you are uncomfortable about completing the form, you are welcome to contact a member of the ethics committee for a confidential conversation in advance.

Letters of recommendation are required from two professional paleontologists familiar with the applicant’s work. The letters must provide information on the significance of the proposed project, its feasibility, as well as the applicant’s ability to conduct the research. These letters must be emailed as pdf files separately from the proposal, directly from the referees to the Chair on or before the deadline in the grant announcement. Letters of recommendation should be addressed to the committee chair (Dr. Phil Novack-Gottshall, Department of Biological Sciences, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL 60532 USA, [email protected]). Place the last name of the letter writer in the subject line of the email message, followed by Newell; for example: Jones_Newell.

Deadline: Grant applications and letters of recommendation must be received by end of February 1, 2020 to be considered for 2019 funding (by 12 midnight U. S. Pacific Standard Time). Applications and letters received after that date will not be considered.

Proposal Review: The review committee will consist of three paleontologists. The head of the committee will be appointed by the President for a three-year term. The remaining two members of the committee are appointed by the committee chair for staggered two-year terms, such that one new committee members is appointed each year. The three committee members should be diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, and area of expertise. Awards will be announced via email on or before May 1 of each grant cycle.

Research report: A brief report on the research is required and is due on 1 May 2019, one year following the awarding of a Norman Newell grant. The completed report should be emailed as a single pdf to the chair of the Norman Newell grants committee. You are encouraged to include links to videos, photos, or other appealing illustrations that may be included on the Paleontological Society’s website and social media. The research report template can be downloaded here. The report should be no more than four pages and should contain the following six parts:

  1. Name and professional address.
  2. Project title.
  3. Brief description and significance of research results, including abstract. Please comment on whether the research is completed or ongoing.
  4. References, tables and figures.
  5. Presentations and publications resulting from the Norman Newell Grant.
  6. Research expenditures in relation to the initial budget.


2020 Norman Newell Early Career Grant Awardees

Rebecca Koll
University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History
Title: Global trends in plant-insect interaction approaching the end-Permian mass extinction

Vera Korasidis
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History
Title: Terrestrial pollen carbon isotope record and ecology across the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Lindsay Ann MacKenzie
Eastern Washington University
Title: Sedimentology of the Latah Fm with taphonomic implications for the preservation of the Clarkia Lagerstatte

Julieta Martinelli
University of Washington
Title: Application of the emerging field of conservation paleobiology to uncover baselines for Olympia oyster restoration

Tara Selly
University of Missouri-Columbia
Title: Taphonomic time-lapse: Tracking decay using x-ray tomography to reveal quantifiable decomposition through three-dimensional analyses


2019 Awardees 

Rehemat Bhatia
University of Bristol
Title: Disentangling calcification models of deep time planktonic foraminifera

James Lamsdell
West Virginia University
Title: Elucidating spatial variation in the structure and complexity of Lower Devonian marine paleocommunities from the Appalachian Basin

Alexis Mychajliw
La Brea Tar Pits & Museum
Title: Ecosystems in asphalt reveal the biogeographic history of a Caribbean land-bridge

David Wright
American Museum of Natural History
Title: Diversification in the aftermath: testing ecological models of evolutionary radiation with phylogenetic paleobiology

2018 Awardees 

Jonathan Calede
Ohio State University, Marion
Title: The evolution, ecology, and adaptive radiation of North American gophers

Ashley A. Dineen
California Academy of Sciences
Title: Temporal and spatial dynamics of ecospace occupation during the Permo-Triassic mass extinction

David Adler Gold
California Institute of Technology / UC Davis
Title: The evolution of brachiopod biomineralization: a comparative genetics approach

Benjamin J. Linzmeier
Northwestern University
Title: Ecology of ancient and modern squid from statolith geochemistry

2017 Awardees 

Cole T. Edwards
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA
Title: Was global marine anoxia a driver of the Late Devonian mass extinction?

Drew Muscente
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Title: Imaging calcified fossils with synchrotron radiation for insights into the taphonomy, morphology, and systematics of early biomineralizing and reef-dwelling animals

Christy C. Visaggi
Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Title: Bridging a biogeographic gap: Temporal and spatial variation in western Atlantic Plio-Pleistocene extinctions

Akinobu Watanabe
University College London, London, United Kingdom
Title: Elucidating the drivers of cranial evolution in reptiles, amphibians, and their extinct relatives through large-scale morphometric analysis