The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology recognized Dr. Alexis Mychajliw with the Alf Award for Excellence in Paleontological Research and Education at the annual Peccary Society event, on October 16. The award honors a paleontologist who demonstrates exceptional achievement both in original scientific research, as well as in education and outreach at the primary and secondary school (K–12) levels.
Dr. Mychajliw is a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Oklahoma and a Research Associate at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. She is a noted expert on Ice Age animals, particularly in studies that use the fossil record to understand contemporary issues of wildlife conservation and environmental change. Dr. Mychajliw’s fieldwork has included collaborations in California as well as in the Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago, uncovering fossils that have been important in better understanding small and large-scale transitions from prehistory into the modern day. Alongside this impressive research program, Dr. Mychajliw has maintained a strong presence as an educator and mentor for high school students. Through funding from the Society for Science and the Public, she developed a high school science research program for female students and those from underrepresented backgrounds. These students completed research projects in paleontology, and presented them at Los Angeles-area science fairs. Additionally, Dr. Mychajliw has been active with the “Skype a Scientist” program, which has allowed further direct engagement with students and other interested people around the world.
Alf Museum curator Andy Farke commented, “Dr. Mychajliw’s influence as a researcher alongside her notable efforts for education are truly within the spirit of Ray Alf, and should be an inspiration to everyone in the field.”
“Knowledge comes in many forms and lives in many places—this is one of the most important values I hold as a scientist, and I strive to instill in my students,” said Dr. Mychajliw. “Working in education and research simultaneously means that even if I am not excited or inspired at the moment, seeing a student make a connection or become fascinated by a question immediately reminds me why I became a scientist in the first place.”
Dr. Alexis Mychajliw has a strong track record of outstanding contributions to science and education, as well as significant future potential, and the Alf Museum is pleased to honor her with the Raymond M. Alf Award for Excellence in Paleontological Research and Education.