Pitzer Professor and Students Study Paleontological Treasures in China

Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and PaleoanthropologyClaremont, Calif. (August 16, 2013)—Pitzer College Assistant Professor of Biology Lars Schmitz and students Patrick Niedermeyer ’15 and Chloe Shih ’15 will spend a week studying the fossils of prehistoric creatures in collections at Peking University and the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, China.

“These museums have some of the most complete and best preserved skeletons of ichthyosaurs and dinosaurs in the world,” Schmitz said. “For example, the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology houses many of the most incredible feathered dinosaurs from China, which have revolutionized our understanding of the dinosaur-bird lineage.”

Schmitz also hopes the visit will establish strong collaborative relations with the paleontology community in Beijing.

Niedermeyer and Shih, a management engineering major, were selected to join Schmitz on this trip because of their interest in evolution, anatomy and statistics. They plan to document their experience through blogs, photos and video to share what they learn with other students when they return to campus.

Schmitz teaches at the Pitzer’s W.M. Keck Science Department and analyzes the functional morphology of vertebrates, focusing on how eye shape and retina structures evolve. He has co-authored more than 20 publications in journals such as Science, Evolution and Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The trip is funded by Pitzer’s Institute for Global/Local Action & Study and the W.M. Keck Science Department.

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Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

About the W.M. Keck Science Department

The W.M. Keck Science Department is the interdisciplinary home to all biology, chemistry, and physics faculty for Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Scripps colleges. The department is administered cooperatively and is housed within an 81,000-square-foot center located at the intersection of the three colleges. The department offers 13 discrete degree options, including dual-degree programs in partnership with schools of engineering and majors in conjunction with disciplines outside the sciences. The W.M. Keck Science Department provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary instruction in small class settings and numerous opportunities for students to conduct research.

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