Prof. Richard Cloutier

Bonjour! Canada’s foremost fossil fish fanatic, Prof. Richard Cloutier, from the Université du Québec à Rimouski (Canada), is currently on sabbatical here at Flinders University!

Richard was born in Canada but obtained his PhD from the University of Kansas (USA), before moving onto several postdoc positions throughout England and France, and then later returning to Canada.

I’m a real fan of his research and he’s got a huge body of work investigating the palaeoecology, palaeoenvironment and systematics of Devonian fossil fishes, especially those from the famous Escuminac Formation “Miguasha” in eastern Canada (such as the famous Eusthenopteron). I would really, really love to go there someday.

Richard is here in Australia to work with John Long and I on a number of projects together, the most exciting of which is the description and investigation of a beautiful specimen of the tetrapodomorph fish, Elpistostege (move over Tiktaalik, there’s a new ‘fish-apod’ in town!)

This month, Richard treated the Ecology and Evolution group here at Flinders University to a fantastic talk about his research. You can learn more or watch it here.



International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Yesterday was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Even though we have come leaps and bounds in recent years, we still have a long way to go to ensure women and girls are not excluded from participating fully in science. According to the UN, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. Gender biases and stereotypes must be combated to enable more young girls and women to participate in science-related fields.

It was for this reason that I was particularly glad to be talking to Work180 yesterday about running a palaeontology activity in their upcoming Super Daughter Day this March in Melbourne. On the day I’ll be exploring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) with girls aged 5-12 and encouraging participation in the huge variety that STEM has to offer.

It’s been so heartening during the last few years to see more visible positive role models for girls in STEM, and even some great new toys such as Lottie the fossil hunter endorsed by  Trowelblazers. (My niece is the lucky recipient of many of these gifts!) Lottie has an age-appropriate body shape and comes with her own field tools and backpack.


If you want to learn more about some amazing people in STEM, check out Australia’s Science Channel “Women in STEM” page for videos and articles about women doing cool things in fields ranging in everything from space archaeology to robotics. (And if you look closely, you might see a familiar face in the article “How to become a palaeontologist.”