F. Robin O’Keefe, associate professor of Biological Sciences, has been selected
as the 2012-2013 Distinguished John Deaver Drinko Academy Fellow, according to
Dr. Alan Gould, executive director of the academy.
O’Keefe is known internationally for his work as a paleobiologist and most recently for a discovery that earned him publication in the esteemed journal Science. He is an acknowledged world expert on Mesozoic marine reptile paleontology and also has published research on primitive reptiles, Pleistocene mammals and extinction and evolutionary theory.
“The Drinko Fellowship is a great honor, and I am gratified to receive it,” O’Keefe said. “Previous Drinko Fellows have a long record of exceptional scholarship and I will do my best to add to it. This fellowship is very timely as I work to launch a research effort in Chile. The support of the Drinko Academy will enable success in this project and I look forward to a productive year in the southern hemisphere.”
Appointed annually, the fellow receives a generous stipend, a reduced teaching load and other financial and clerical support for two academic years to undertake research projects and other scholarly pursuits.
O’Keefe will present the results of his work to the university community at a symposium next spring during the annual Celebration of Academics.
O'Keefe came to Marshall in the fall of 2006, and has been an associate professor since 2010. Since joining the faculty, he has published 10 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, many co-authored with graduate and undergraduate students.
In August 2011, O’Keefe was the lead author on a paper on plesiosaur reproductive biology published in Science. His work with co-author Luis Chiappe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a significant advance in the understanding of these animals.
Headlined “Sea Monster Had a Bun in the Oven,” the article about his research received widespread coverage in the popular press. A multitude of media outlets interviewed O’Keefe about his research, which was on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in California in August 2011. The BBC, CNN, local and statewide news organizations, National Geographic and U.S. News & World Report, as well as various international press, covered the publication of his research.
“Dr. O’Keefe’s research has garnered the attention of his scholarly peers, the top-tier journal Science, the popular press, and now, the John Deaver Drinko Academy,” Gould said. “Without a doubt, Dr. O’Keefe certainly has earned the title of Distinguished John Deaver Drinko Fellow. His research and ability to communicate it endearingly to the masses has brought positive attention and academic acclaim to Marshall University. He plans to use his time as a Drinko Fellow working on a special project in Chile and we cannot wait to learn what he discovers this time.”
O’Keefe teaches human anatomy, introductory biology, comparative vertebrate anatomy and various graduate seminars and is chair of the Graduate Program Committee for the Department of Biological Sciences. He has advised five successful master’s candidates and currently has four graduate students working in his lab.
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