Primary Recipient Awards
Evolutionary biology, phylogenetics, palaeontology, and physical geology all share a fundamental goal of illuminating the history of the planet. Each of these fields is developing a history of the Earth based on different kinds of data as diverse as genetic sequences, fossilised remains, or isotope ratios. Despite their common goal, each of these fields is isolated from the others because each is developing a planetary history with data that are not easily compared across fields. Here we will discuss the possibility of calibrating the most basic measurement in any historical inquiry: Time.
We will examine the prospects and drawbacks of aligning the "histories of the Earth" by several synergistic means. First, we will examine the prospects of aligning fossil and genetic data by comparing the evolutionary "clock" of several genes from several microbial lineages with established fossil records. Second, we will explore the possibility of aligning physical data with genetic and palaeontological histories, and determining the biology that might underpin these physical characteristics. Answering such questions will provide unique insights into the evolution of key molecules, as well as the biochemical, ecological, and physical interactions between Life and the Earth.