EPS Graduate Student Wins Prestigious Award

Departmental News

Posted:  Feb 10, 2024 - 12:00am

woman seated in a field setting

Alexandra Apgar, an Earth and Planetary Sciences Ph.D. student at the University of New Mexico, has been recognized as the recipient of the 2024 Charles H. Sternberg Award. The Charles H. Sternberg Award was created by the Association of Applied Paleontological Science in 1992, in honor of the intrepid fossil collector responsible for collecting some of the most remarkable North American vertebrate paleontological specimens during the late 19th and early 20th century. The grant is awarded annually to a paleontology graduate student for the active research of macrovertebrate fossils via fieldwork and/or specimen collection. 


The award will support Alex’s research studying Late Triassic macrovertebrates in Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona (PEFO). Prior sedimentological investigations in PEFO determined that fossiliferous outcrops of the Blue Mesa and Sonsela Members in the park were deposited by a prograding distributive fluvial system (DFS). While taphonomists have previously analyzed how certain fluvial systems can produce different modes of fossil preservation, we currently have limited knowledge as to how the varying subenvironments of DFS impact fossil preservation. Similarly, fossil assemblage (and thus potential paleocommunities) compositional variations between DFS subenvironments have yet to be examined. The project being funded by the Charles H. Sternberg Award will serve as the very first investigation into terrestrial fossil assemblages and preservation patterns in these important ancient environments.


Apgar a Fellow in the Museum Research Traineeship program at UNM. She is advised by Associate Professor Jason Moore of UNM’s Honors College. She is interested in education and outreach, and plans to work as a museum researcher and an educational director.