Every year PRI recognizes someone who doesn’t do paleontology for a living, yet provides outstanding contributions to the field of paleontology. The award is named the Katherine Palmer award, after PRI’s second Director, Katherine Palmer, who was an avid supporter of avocational paleontology. This year we are very proud to present this award to Don Badman.

Don created a renowned collection of Pennsylvanian-age plants from Pennsylvania. He collected particularly from the Llewellyn Formation. When I was talking to him about his collecting, he made note of the fact that he and Bill preferred to collect from material stripped from the top of coal seams, where they could see the layers and know exactly which stratigraphic layers their fossils were coming from. This was opposed to getting fossils from material removed mechanically from deeper pits, for which it was hard to tell exactly where it had come from. That, of course, is what makes a collection like Don’s so useful scientifically - he understood the significance of locality information and faithfully noted and preserved it.

Like so many serious collectors, Don started collecting in his youth; the year was 1950, so he’s been collecting over 50 years. He tells the story of picking up a rock with what he thought at the time was a 4-leaf clover and got hooked. Since he grew up in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area, where there are a lot of coal seams and coal fossils, he was in a prime area to start collecting. Many of these early sites he collected are now gone, for example under Route 81, which makes his collections all the more significant.

Don decided that he wanted to be a geologist and at one time he was supposed to go into geology at Penn State. Circumstances got in the way, and he ended up an electrical engineer and worked for years on semi-conductors. Although he wasn’t doing paleontology for a job, he did find a way to make his job work for his collecting: when he began consulting work and traveled the country, he took the opportunity to collect wherever he could. Examples include collecting Cenozoic mollusks in the Coastal Plain, e.g., Mississippi, and collecting from Pennsylvanian Period age marine units in Texas. More recently he moved to Easton, Pennsylvania. To do so he had to have over 3 tons of plant fossils moved there.

He has donated material generously to the PRI collections, including about 10,000 specimens, which are sure to be of value over the years to numerous paleobotanical researchers. He notes that some of the Pennsylvanian plant material that he has collected, showing a major faunal turnover, has not to his knowledge been studied and published upon.

Don has had years of support from his wife Rose and his son Dean. It is our pleasure to award Don with the Katherine Palmer award for excellence in avocational paleontology.