Derek Briggs

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Derek Briggs
Born Derek Ernest Gilmor Briggs
(1950-10-01) 1 October 1950 (age 63)[1]
Ireland
Residence New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Nationality Irish
Fields Paleontology
Institutions
Alma mater
Thesis Arthropods from the Burgess Shale, Middle Cambrian, Canada (1976)
Doctoral advisor Harry Whittington
Known for
Notable awards
Website

Derek Ernest Gilmor Briggs (born 1 October 1950) is an Irish palaeontologist and taphonomist based at Yale University.[1] Briggs is one of three palaeontologists, along with Harry Blackmore Whittington and Simon Conway Morris, who were key in the reinterpretation of the fossils of the Burgess Shale. He is the Yale University G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics; Director, Peabody Museum of Natural History; and Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

Education[edit]

Briggs was educated at Trinity College Dublin where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geology in 1972. He went on to the University of Cambridge to work under British palaeontologists Harry Blackmore Whittington.[16] He was awarded a PhD in 1976 on Arthropods from the Burgess Shale, Middle Cambrian, Canada.[17]

Research and Career[edit]

While at the University of Cambridge, Briggs worked on the fossils of the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia alongside a fellow student Simon Conway Morris, both under the supervision of Harry Whittington, on the exceptionally well-preserved Burgess Shale fauna.[18] The Burgess Shale project subsequently became one of the most celebrated endeavours in the field of palaeontology in the latter half of the 20th century. On 1 July 2008 he took over as Director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.[19][20] He became the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics at Yale in 2011.[21]

Briggs's research is on the taphonomy, or preservation, and evolutionary significance of the exceptionally preserved fossil biotas known as Konservat-Lagerstätten – fossil formations that include evidence of faunal soft tissue. His work involves a range of approaches from experimental work on the factors controlling decay and fossilisation, through studies of early diagenetic mineralisation and organic preservation, to field work on a range of fossil occurrences.[22][23][24][25]

Date Position
1974–1977 Postdoctoral research Fellow, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge
1977–1985 Department of Geology, Goldsmiths College, University of London
1985–2002 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol (Chair 1997–2001)
2001–2002 Visiting professor, Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago
2003– Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and Curator in charge of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University
2004– Director of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies
2008– Director of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University
2011– G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University

Awards and honours[edit]

His nomination for elected to the Royal Society reads:

Professor Briggs has made several remarkable discoveries of exceptionally preserved fossils. His researches have elucidated their evolutionary significance, resulting in a significant shift in the focus of palaeontology toward these important windows on the life of the past. His work on the arthropods from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia has altered our perception of the nature of the Cambrian radiation. He demonstrated that morphological disparity among living arthropods is similar to that in the Cambrian, indicating that the functional and developmental constraints on form were operative from the earliest stages of metazoan evolution. He described the first evidence of the soft-tissues of conodonts, which resolved the vexed question of their affinities, with the recognition that these important fossils are the earliest known vertebrates. More recently he has pioneered a combination of new experimental approaches to the process involved in fossilization of the 'soft parts' of animals. His chemical and mineralogical investigations have demonstrated how soft tissues can be replicated at the cellular level in minerals such as apatite (the Medusa effect).[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "BRIGGS, Prof. Derek Ernest Gilmor". Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b "EC/1999/04: Briggs, Derek Ernest Gilmor". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2014-05-22. 
  3. ^ a b Derek Briggs Boyle Medal page
  4. ^ "Curriculum vitae: Derek E.G. Briggs". people.earth.yale.edu. Yale University. 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Briggs, Derek E. G. (2014). "Adolf Seilacher (1925–2014) Palaeontologist who pioneered analysis of trace fossils". Nature 509 (7501): 428. doi:10.1038/509428a. 
  6. ^ Derek Briggs from the Scopus bibliographic database.
  7. ^ Briggs, D. E. G. (2003). "The role of decay and mineralization in the preservation of soft-bodied fossils". Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 31: 275. doi:10.1146/annurev.earth.31.100901.144746. 
  8. ^ Briggs, D. E. G.; Kear, A. J. (1993). "Fossilization of Soft Tissue in the Laboratory". Science 259 (5100): 1439–42. doi:10.1126/science.259.5100.1439. PMID 17801278. 
  9. ^ Briggs, D. E. G.; Fortey, R. A.; Wills, M. A. (1992). "Morphological Disparity in the Cambrian". Science 256 (5064): 1670–3. doi:10.1126/science.256.5064.1670. PMID 17841089. 
  10. ^ Stankiewicz, B. A. (1997). "Preservation of Chitin in 25-Million-Year-Old Fossils". Science 276 (5318): 1541. doi:10.1126/science.276.5318.1541. 
  11. ^ Briggs, D. E. G.; Fortey, R. A.; Wills, M. A. (1992). "Morphological Disparity in the Cambrian". Science 256 (5064): 1670–3. doi:10.1126/science.256.5064.1670. PMID 17841089. 
  12. ^ Briggs, D. E.; Fortey, R. A. (1989). "The early radiation and relationships of the major arthropod groups". Science 246 (4927): 241–3. doi:10.1126/science.246.4927.241. PMID 17839017. 
  13. ^ Orr, P. J.; Briggs, D. E.  G.; Kearns, S. L. (1998). "Cambrian Burgess Shale Animals Replicated in Clay Minerals". Science 281 (5380): 1173–1175. Bibcode:1998Sci...281.1173O. doi:10.1126/science.281.5380.1173. PMID 9712577. 
  14. ^ Briggs, D. E. G. (1999). "Molecular taphonomy of animal and plant cuticles: selective preservation and diagenesis". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 354 (1379): 7. doi:10.1098/rstb.1999.0356. 
  15. ^ Briggs, D. E. G. (2013). "A mosquito's last supper reminds us not to underestimate the fossil record". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (46): 18353–18354. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319306110. 
  16. ^ Bryson, Bill (2004). A short history of nearly everything. London: Black Swan. p. 397. ISBN 978-1-40909-548-4. 
  17. ^ Briggs, Derek Ernest Gilmour (1976). Arthropods from the Burgess Shale, Middle Cambrian, Canada (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. 
  18. ^ Morris, Simon Conway (1998). The Crucible of Creation : the Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. vii. ISBN 978-0-1985-0256-2. 
  19. ^ Bhushan A (27 November 2007). "'Visionary' Briggs to lead, expand Peabody". yaledailynews.com. Yale Daily News. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Yale News (20 November 2007). "Derek Briggs Appointed Next Director of Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History". news.yale.edu. Yale University. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  21. ^ Yale News (8 February 2011). "Derek Briggs is named the Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics". news.yale.edu. Yale University. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Derek E. G. Briggs, D. H. Erwin, and F. J. Collier. The fossils of the Burgess Shale. ISBN 156098659X
  23. ^ Derek E. G. Briggs, C. Bartels, and G. Brassel. The fossils of the Hunsrück Slate. ISBN 0521117070
  24. ^ Derek E. G. Briggs and Peter R. Crowther, eds. (2003). Palaeobiology II. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-632-05147-7 and ISBN 0-632-05149-3.
  25. ^ Derek E.G. Briggs, Nicholas H. Barton, Jonathan A. Eisen, David B. Goldstein, and Nipam H. Patel. Evolution. ISBN 9780879696849