A Kentucky scientist who has taken on the high-profile task of opposing public funding of creationist Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter park has been given a prestigious award by the Paleontological Society.

The Society announced in July that Daniel Phelps, president and founder of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, has been named the recipient of its 2021 Strimple Award.

The Paleontological Society is the world’s leading scientific organization for studying invertebrate and vertebrate paleontology, micropaleontology and paleobotany. Its membership spans 40 countries and consists of professional paleontologists, academicians, science editors, earth-science teachers, museum specialists, undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral scholars, as well as avocational paleontologists.

The Strimple Award recognizes outstanding achievement in paleontology by someone who does not make a living full-time from paleontology. Contributions may be an    outstanding record of research and publication, making outstanding collections, safeguarding unique pale­on­­to­­logical materials through public service, teaching activities in the area of paleontology and collaborations with others working in paleontology.

The award will be given online as part of the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, Oct. 12.

Phelps is a retired environmental geologist for the commonwealth of Kentucky. He has also taught geology part-time in Kentucky’s Community College system and once worked for a major petroleum company’s research center in Texas. His work to expose the pseudoscience behind Ham’s Ark Encounter, a park in Grant County, Ky., that purports to be a re-creation of Noah’s Ark, was featured in the award-winning 2019 documentary “We Believe in Dinosaurs,” which aired on the PBS series “Independent Lens” in February 2020. 

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