Laurie R. Godfrey

Laurie R. Godfrey

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Organismic Biology & Ecology

Competition: US & Canada

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Evolutionary biologist Laurie R. Godfrey is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  She joined the anthropology faculty there as an assistant professor in 1977, immediately after receiving her Ph.D. in biological anthropology from Harvard, and was promoted to professor in 1991; for three years beginning in 2002 she was also the associate director of its Interdisciplinary Program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.  She has been a strong proponent for the teaching of evolution in public schools, and in 1983 UMass honored her with its Presidential Writer’s Award for Scientists Confront Creationism, the first book she had edited. Since then, she has edited two other books on this topic: What Darwin Began: Modern Darwinian and Non-Darwinian Perspectives on Evolution (Allyn & Bacon, 1985) and, with A. J. Petto, Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism (Norton, 2007).

Her primary research interest has always been the lemurs of Madagascar–their functional anatomy, evolutionary history, endangerment, and extinction.  As part of her work, she has done extensive research on the lemurs in museums as well as in the field in Madagascar. Among her more than eighty book chapters and articles in refereed journals on this topic are the following: (with K. E. Samonds, W. L. Jungers, M. R. Sutherland, and M. T. Irwin), "Ontogenetic correlates of diet in Malagasy lemurs," American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 123 (2004), 250-276; (with W. L. Jungers et al.), "New discoveries of skeletal elements of Hadropithecus stenognathus from Andrahomana Cave, southeastern Madagascar," Journal of Human Evolution, 51 (2006), 395-410; (with B. T. Schwartz, K. E. Samonds, W. L. Jungers, and K. K. Catlett), "The secrets of lemur teeth," Evolutionary Anthropology, 15 (2006), 142-154; (with M. T. Irwin), "The evolution of extinction risk: Past and present anthropogenic impacts on the primate communities of Madagascar," Folia Primatologica, 78 (2007), 405-419; and (with W. L. Jungers, G. T. Schwartz, and M. T. Irwin), "Ghosts and orphans: Madagascar’s vanishing ecosystems," in Elwyn Simons: A Search for Origins, ed. J. G. Fleagle and C. C. Gilbert (Springer, 2008). During her Guggenheim Fellowship term, she is working on a reconstruction of Madagascar’s vanishing ecosystems.

Ms. Godfrey has been a Science Scholar at the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute at Radcliffe, a Visiting Instructor in Anthropology at SUNY Binghamton, a Visiting Assistant Professor and Curator of Collections in Cornell University’s Department of Anthropology, and an NSF Visiting Professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at SUNY Stony Brook.  Her awards include appointment as an Honorary Fellow of the American Association of University Women (1983), the Humanist Contributions to Science Award (1988) from the American Humanist Association, and appointment as the Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer (1997-99). She is also an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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