The Micropalaeontological Society

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Obituary for Dr Harold Smith

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Dr Harold Smith died earlier this year. Harold pioneered Carboniferous palynology, coal petrology and thermal maturation studies. His early work demonstrating how the distributions of miospores in coals can be used to interpret the palaeoecological and palaeohydrological development of coal mires was of singular importance, while his subsequent work in coal-seam correlation and Carboniferous miospore biostratigraphy (some published in the Journal of Micropalaeontology) remains relevant today. The 1967 monograph ‘Miospores in the Coal Seams of the Carboniferous of Great Britain’ written with Mavis Butterworth is still a standard taxonomic reference in Palaeozoic palynology. Harold was awarded honorary membership of the International Committee for Coal and Organic Petrology in 1987. He later integrated biostratigraphy and vitrinite reflectance work to provenance coal material found at archaeological sites, such as in roman villas and on shipwrecks (notably HMS Bounty). After retiring from the Coal Survey Laboratories, Harold devoted his time to ornithology and contributed greatly to bird monitoring and conservation in South Yorkshire.

Obituary for Dr William Winn Hay

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William Winn Hay was born in Dallas, TX on October 12, 1934, the second son of Stephen J. Hay Sr. and Avella Winn Hay. He died on 27/10/2022 at the age of 88. Bill graduated from St. Marks School of Texas class of 1951. He received a BS in Biology from Southern Methodist University (1955), an MS in Geology at the University of Illinois at Urbana (1958) and a PhD in Geology at Stanford University (1960). The focus of Bill’s research was on fossilized nannoplankton. He was a pioneer in using nannoplankton for age-dating rocks using fossil evidence (ie, a high-resolution microscope). During this period, he spent a good amount of time doing field research in Mexico. Bill also studied at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the University of Zurich. He started his academic career at the U of Illinois at Urbana (1960). Then he was a joint Professor of Geology at the University of Illinois and Professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS) of the University of Miami (1968 -1974). During this period, he was an early leader in a deep sea drilling project (DSDP) on the vessel Glomar Challenger funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of this research was to understand planetary history through ocean science. He continued this focus on marine geology as Chairman of the Division of Marine Geology and Geophysics at RSMAS for two years, and then Dean from 1976-1980. He was President of Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling, Inc. (JOIDES), in Washington, D.C. (1979 to 1982).

In 1982, he became Director of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Natural History Museum, and then became a Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and joined the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES). In the 1990s, Bill was Visiting Professor at GEOMAR, part of the marine geological research institute at Christian-Albrecht’s-Universität, Kiel, Germany.

From 1991-96, Bill also held positions at the Institute for Baltic Sea Research (Warnemünde, Germany); University of Vienna’s Institut für Paläontologie; Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University’s Geologische Institut (Greifswald, Germany); and as L. C. Donders Professor at the Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Utrecht, (The Netherlands).

After retiring from the University of Colorado (1998), he became a Professor of Paleoceanology at GEOMAR, until 2002. He was most recently Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado and received an honorary doctorate from the Christian-Albrecht University of Kiel. Bill loved to teach and mentor. During his tenure, he supported and started careers for approximately 50 graduate and doctoral students.

Bill also authored or co-authored approximately 250 publications during his career. Over the past few years, Bill authored a seminal publication on climate change (Hay, William W., 2016. Experimenting on a Small Planet – A Scholarly Entertainment. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 3rd edition). He has received numerous national and international awards in recognition of his contributions to the geological and oceanographic sciences.

While he was passionate about his students and research, Bill travelled extensively, where he developed his love of art, music and opera. His fluency in German, Swiss German, Spanish and French enabled him to travel seamlessly around Europe and Asia. He also loved being at his home in Estes Park, Colorado where he would entertain friends and neighbours with a gourmet meal, tend to his fish and rescue cats, debate current politics or just sit and watch the ever-changing climate of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bill is survived by his nephew, Stephen J Hay III (Debbie) and niece, Mary Hay (Dave Smith). Bill also played a significant role in the lives of Gustav Clarence-Rossby Wold, Nikolai William-Rossby Wold and Tegan Bryn Wold, who still consider him their Opa. In addition to his family, Bill is remembered by many friends and neighbours in Estes Park and the hundreds of students he reached over the years. One neighbour who has been very close to Bill for the past few years characterized him as a Capital “S” Scientist, a Capital “N” Neighbour, and a Capital “F” Friend.

In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family and friends ask that you please consider sending a donation to Rocky Mountain Conservancy Philanthropy, P.O. Box 3100, Estes Park, CO 80517

Written by Alan Lord and John Steinmetz

Obituary for Doctor Marin Buzas

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Martin A. Buzas, 1934-2022

It is with profound sadness that we share the news of the death of Martin A. Buzas, Curator of Foraminifera in the Department of Paleobiology. Marty was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, received his B.S. from the University of Connecticut, his M.S. from Brown, and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1963. He arrived at NMNH that same year and occupied his office in the northeast corner of the first floor of the East Wing for the next 59 years. Throughout his career as Curator, then Senior Scientist, then Curator Emeritus, Marty used “big data”, much of it generated by his own observations, along with rigorous statistical techniques, to understand the ecological structure of benthic foraminiferal communities and species distributions in space and time. He used experiments, long-term surveys, and fossils to study forams from the salt marshes to the deep-sea, from scales of millimetres to thousands of kilometres, and over time periods from seasons to tens of millions of years. He showed how the same quantitative techniques could be applied to other groups of organisms not blessed with such ubiquitous fossils and large sample sizes. His work, including his book Surveying Natural Populations (written with Lee Ann Hayek), has been highly influential in both palaeontology and biology. Marty’s many accomplishments, and his role as one of the first to bring quantitative methods to palaeontology, were recognized by his peers with the presentations of the Brady Medal of the Micropalaeontological Society (2016), the Paleontological Society Medal (2004), and the Joseph A. Cushman Award for excellence in foraminiferal research (2004).

Although Marty devoted himself to research, he also played an active role in shaping NMNH culture. He was one of the young curators in the 1960s who advocated powerfully for academic freedom and independent basic research at the Smithsonian – arguments that found a receptive target in Secretary S. Dillon Ripley. Marty and others founded the NMNH Senate of Scientists to uphold these ideals’ importance. Marty remained a strong and sometimes sharp-tongued defender of freedom of research throughout his time as Paleobiology’s Chair (1977-1982) as well as later in his career. Marty influenced the wider field not only through his research but also through teaching and mentoring. He was unstintingly generous with his younger colleagues, taught classes at the Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University, and was a primary mentor or thesis committee member for many grad students and postdocs. Marty hosted a regular lunch around a table in his lab for decades, the conversation sprinkled with the dry witticisms and wisdom of this brilliant but unpretentious ‘regular guy’ from Bridgeport. Marty’s career advice to his colleagues was this: “Seize a new space and weld seemingly disparate disciplines together…This approach…runs a higher risk of failure, but the thrills it provides are well worth the risk. Should I search carefully for collaborators, paying attention as to how their expertise would benefit my research? No, interesting colleagues with fascinating ideas surround you at this very moment.” Marty, and his confidence in his colleagues, will be greatly missed.

Written by Brian Huber

Obituary for Professor John Murray

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We were very sorry to hear of the death of Professor John Murray in late October 2021. John had a long and distinguished academic career at Imperial College London, The Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, Bristol University, Exeter University and finally Southampton, carrying out research on numerous topics related to benthic foraminifera. He was outstanding as both a teacher and researcher and will be greatly missed in both the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton and in the world of foraminiferal research. He will also be sorely missed in our society. John was a member of the society from its foundation in 1970, as the British Micropalaeontological Group. He was secretary of the Foraminifera specialist group from 1972-1973,  and Chairman of the society from 1978 to 1980. He edited the Journal of Micropaleontology from 1994 to 1997. In each of the roles, he was supremely efficient and made major contributions to the development of the society, in recognition of this he was made an Honorary Member of the Society in 2005. The Society also recognised his outstanding scientific contributions to Micropalaeontology, awarding him the Brady Medal, the highest honour of the society, in 2007. His achievements to that date are summarised in the commendation for the award – although since he continued a high level of scientific output that summary is in need of updating. 

Our knowledge of microfossils and their role in global ecology has been built by the work of numerous micropalaeontologists and John was one of the best, and one of the kindest.  

Written by Dr Jeremy Young, on behalf of the Micropalaeontological Society committee

Obituary for Professor Robin Whatley

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The public funeral arrangements for Professor Emeritus Robin Charles Ignatius Whatley are as



Reception Mass at St Michael’s Church, Laura Place, Aberystwyth, SY23 2AU at 5.30pm on Friday 24 th

June, 2016.


Requiem Mass at St Michael’s Church, Laura Place, Aberystwyth, SY23 2AU at 11.30am on Saturday

25 th June, 2016 followed by Funeral Breakfast in the Old College, King Street, Aberystwyth, SY23 2AX

and then interment at Hafod Churchyard, Cwmystwyth, SY23 4AG (Grid Reference SN 768 736).

No flowers please but donations, if desired, towards helping students in the field of

Micropalaeontology under the aegis of the Micropalaeontological Society c/o D.J. Evans Funeral

Directors, Penrhyncoch, Aberystwtyh SY23 3EQ: Tel. 01970 820249.


Should you wish to attend the funeral, please could you inform Dr Caroline Maybury by email:, if you have not already done so, how many will be in your group, so that catering

arrangements may be made.


Caroline wishes to express her sincere thanks for all the kindness, sympathy and messages of

condolence she has received in her bereavement.

Obituary for Professor Martin Brasier

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April 12, 1947 –  December 16, 2014


It is with great sadness we heard of the sudden and tragic death of Professor Martin Brasier. Martin was heavily involved in the early days of BMS (as TMS was previously known) as newsletter editor and in the foram group. He gave an interesting talk at the Oxford TMS AGM in November this year which covered Martin’s micropalaeontological interests. We have included a brief obituary notice from Oxford University and will be producing an obituary (in the newsletter & website) highlighting Martin’s contribution to Micropalaeontology. Read more