- © 2002 by AASP Foundation
The American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists bestows upon ALFRED TRAVERSE its Medal of Excellence in Education in recognition of a man who never missed an opportunity to teach, or to be taught, and whose intellectual curiosity and genuine love for the enterprise of teaching have brought him international acclaim.”
PRESENTATIONS BY MARTIN B. FARLEY, FREDERICK J. RICH AND PAUL K. STROTHER
In the following letter I would like to present the reasons why I think Dr. Alfred Traverse is highly qualified to receive the A.A.S.P. Medal of Excellence in Education.
The most important insight I got from Alfred Traverse was the importance of putting paleobotanical results in a geologic context. In great contrast to most paleobotanists until the 1980s who just peeled the fossils off the rocks and threw the rocks away, Traverse paid attention to the sediments in which the fossils occurred. I think it is now impossible to separate how much my interest in the geologic context of fossils derives from me and how much from him. I think, though, that concentrating on how Alfred Traverse affected me in my development as a scientist is missing the point of how important his effects have been.
The keystone to his approach has been the palynology course. This course has attracted biology and geology students, both undergraduate and graduate, in sufficient numbers to have been taught every year for more than 30 years. What makes this course unique is the “analysis of an unknown” that is the centerpiece of the lab and indeed the entire course. This transformed the students from mere pupils into real palynologists who had to master the basic lab techniques to process the sample and then use the knowledge of palynomorphs through time that was the rest of the course to interpret a sample’s age (to the nearest stage). The investigative experience was only heightened by …