During the Geological Society of America’s (GSA) annual meeting at the start of this month, Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dana Royer was awarded the Donath Medal, also known as the Young Scientist Award. The GSA, an organization that has over 22,000 member scientists across 97 countries, awards the Donath Medal to a young scientist—35 or younger—who is conducting important research in earth sciences. Royer received a gold medal and $10,000.

Royer described himself as a paleontologist who studies paleoclimate questions, with a focus on how plant fossils can be used to study climate patterns. Using fossil remains, he and his collaborators attempt to reconstruct carbon dioxide, temperature, and rainfall levels.

Recently, Royer has been researching the quantitative relationship between carbon dioxide levels and temperature, going back millions of years to time periods when the Earth was warmer than it is now.

“I think it’s a question of obvious importance and relevance today in thinking about global climate change,” Royer said. “Studying these fossils in these ancient time periods can give us often novel insights into where we may be headed.”

Royer, who is in his sixth year teaching at Wesleyan, is also one of the College of the Environment (COE) Faculty Fellows. As part of the newly formed COE think tank, Royer, Professor of Economics Gary Yohe, and Associate Professor of African American Studies, Anthropology, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Gina Ulysse are leading research projects relating to this year’s theme: “Vulnerability of Social, Economic and Natural Systems to Multiple Sources of External Stress.” The official faculty members and themes for the think tank will change each year.

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