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President’s Award for Early Career Excellence


Monday, April 16, University of Missouri System President Mun Choi awarded UM System President’s Awards to James Schiffbauer, an assistant professor of geological sciences at MU.

Choi surprised Schiffbauer, with the President’s Early Career Award for Faculty Excellence, which includes a $5,000 prize. The award recognizes faculty who show exceptional promise in scholarship, research or creativity, as proven by significant accomplishments at the university.

During his six-year tenure in the MU College of Arts and Science, Schiffbauer has received both the 2016 MU Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Research and Creative Achievement Award, and the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development award in 2017. He has established a large, well-funded and highly productive research group at MU as well as a new, state-of-the-art imaging facility used in multi-disciplinary studies in collaboration with other research institutions.

“Dr. Schiffbauer is a well-respected researcher in the international geoscience community,” said Kevin Shelton, professor of geological sciences at MU. “Even at a relatively early point in his career, he has developed a stellar reputation across a wide variety of geologic subdisciplines, including the fields of paleontology, taphonomy and electron microscopy. His level of research productivity is more typical of our most-talented full professors. Stated simply, Jim is a star whose career is blossoming at MU.”

Schiffbauer’s primary research interest is taphonomy, the study of how organisms decay and become preserved as fossils. His research has revealed the processes of fossilization, and he has targeted fossils from the “dawn of animal life” during the Ediacaran and Cambrian Periods (600–500 million years ago). Schiffbauer’s research also encompassed fields outside of paleontology, including modern ecology, 3-D computer graphics and economic geology. Schiffbauer serves on the editorial boards of three journals, including Geology, the top-ranked journal that spans the geosciences.

“He is an excellent teacher and mentor and is one of our most-collegial faculty members, always ready to volunteer when a service task comes up,” said Alan Whittington, chair and E.B. Branson Professor of Geological Sciences.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. Schiffbauer will be formally recognized by President Choi during an awards celebration in June.

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