2012 Pearson Award - María Encarnación (“Pati”) Pérez

The Oliver P. Pearson Award supports a young professional in Latin America within 5 years of receiving a Ph.D. or equivalent degree.  This award honors Oliver Pearson’s remarkable 6 decades of work in Latin America and his steadfast support for Latin American mammalogists of all ages and degrees of professional development.  The award offers financial support to young professional mammalogists who hold academic or curatorial positions in Latin America, to help them establish or consolidate their research programs.  A single $5,000 award is granted each year.   $2000 is also provided for travel to the following year’s ASM annual meeting.

The 2012 recipient of the Oliver Pearson Award is Dr. María Encarnación (“Pati”) Pérez.  Dr. Pérez holds a post-doctoral fellowship from CONICET, Argentina’s equivalent of the NSF.  Her training in paleontology has been integral to her developing expertise in the evolutionary biology of mammals.  Her PhD research at the University of La Plata (Argentina) focused on the systematics and phylogeny of “eocardiids,” the stem group of Cavioid rodents.  She is continuing her exploration of the evolution and diversification of the cavioids in her post-doctoral work, which combines fossil data with phylogenetic analyses of morphological and molecular data from extant taxa.  Dr. Pérez completed her PhD only 2 years ago, but already has published papers in the Argentine journal Ameghiniana, as well as Paläontologische Zeitschrift, the J. of Vertebrate Paleontology, and Journal of Mammalian Evolution.  One of her nominators noted that “her work in progress and that proposed will surely identify her as a true leader in the study of mammalian evolution.”