P. David Polly has been elected to the newest class of fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This is one of the most distinguished honors within the scientific community, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the progress of science and research.
Polly, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Biology. He was chosen for his distinguished contributions to the field of vertebrate paleontology (particularly for original studies in morphometrics), for quantitative analyses in paleobiology, and for innovative studies on mammalian evolution.
A vertebrate paleontologist, Polly combines quantitative techniques for measuring complex three-dimensional objects with computational modeling and phylogenetics to study the evolution of morphology. His research focuses on how functional performance, chance events and the legacy of ancestry contribute to morphological evolution, and how its course is influenced by the broad context of changing Earth systems, especially climate, landscape and tectonics. Measuring their complex forms has required a fusion of geometric morphometrics, quantitative genetics and phylogenetics, including developing new methods for quantifying their three-dimensional surfaces. Polly was president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, associate director of IU's Environmental Resilience Institute and an Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholar at Yale University.
Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. This particular tradition stretches back to 1874. Polly and five other IU faculty members' election brings the number of AAAS fellows affiliated with IU to 133, with more than half (85) in the past 15 years. Currently, 20 Department of Biology faculty members and 10 faculty emeriti are AAAS fellows.
Election as a fellow is a lifetime honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.