David A. T. Harper
The 2023 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal is awarded to David A. T. Harper in recognition of his outstanding work on the evolution and biostratigraphy of Lower Paleozoic invertebrate faunas, as well as his important contributions to quantitative palaeontology education.
David A. T. Harper is a field-, museum- and computer-based palaeontologist who made major impacts with his studies of Early Paleozoic brachiopods, stratigraphy, palaeogeography, and major events in the Ordovician. During his career, he has worked at different institutions in several European countries, where he has investigated the Ordovician-Silurian boundary, Paleozoic island terranes, integration of palaeontological and palaeomagnetic data of Early Paleozoic oceans, and Early Paleozoic events, particularly the Cambrian Explosion, Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event and the end- Ordovician extinction event. Harper is an outstanding taxonomist and systematist of the Brachiopoda and has published numerous papers on their evolutionary history and taxonomic relationships. He was a major contributor to the ‘Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology’, generating new and cladistically-based classifications of four major groups and revising all their known genera. This monumental work is now the standard work of reference and has made him the world authority on these groups. With 350 refereed articles in scientific journals to date, Harper continues to actively (co-)publish his research findings, including those resulting from field campaigns in remote areas of Greenland and China.
Harper has also made a very significant contribution to the education of palaeontologists. He has co-authored a number of widely used text-books and he pioneered computer packages for statistical analysis in palaeontology. This software was originally developed as a research and teaching aid for palaeontologists and biologists, but its successor, ‘PAST’, has become an industry standard as evidenced by thousands of citations in the palaeontological literature and beyond. Harper has been president of the Palaeontological Association and the International Palaeontological Association. He led the Subcommission on Ordovician Stratigraphy and is currently Chair of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, where he is described as a generous, positive leader who is scrupulously fair and open in his dealings with colleagues at all levels.
For all of these reasons, David A. T. Harper is a worthy recipient of the 2023 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal.