Paleontology and civic pride: Philip Currie inducted into Edmonton Hall of Fame

    World-renowned UAlberta paleontologist recognized for outstanding career of research and teaching.

    By Jennifer Pascoe on June 10, 2019

    One of Canada’s leading scientists and arguably one of the most renowned paleontologists in the world, Philip Currie has helped put Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on the map, ensuring our collective place in the pages of history books for centuries to come—and today, those contributions are celebrated by the City of Edmonton as Currie is inducted into the City of Edmonton Hall of Fame.

    “For more than 35 years, Philip Currie’s name has been synonymous with dinosaurs in Alberta and Canada. The impact of his research has been realized around the world and has established Alberta as an internationally renowned dinosaur hub,” said University of Alberta President Dr. David Turpin. “Due in no small part to the work Dr. Currie has completed during his tenure, Edmonton and the University of Alberta are recognized as one of the premier places in the world to study vertebrate paleontology.”

    While Currie’s leadership can be felt across the province—from the south, with his key role in the establishment of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, to the north, with the museum named in his honour in Grande Prairie, the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum—nowhere is Currie’s legacy more strongly felt than the city he proudly calls home: Edmonton.

    A large portion of Currie’s famous fieldwork program is spent each spring in the Edmonton bonebed, a gem within our city limits, which makes Edmonton unique to other major metropolises, and a feature that attracts paleontologists—both professional and amateur—from around the world to Alberta’s capital city. As a professor at the University of Alberta, Currie has drawn many students to Edmonton to study, training generations of undergraduate and graduate students who are already and/or will become tomorrow's leaders in the field. Thanks to Currie and his colleagues, Edmonton’s reputation for training, developing and supporting the next generation of the world’s paleontologists adds prestige to our city’s global reputation, as these esteemed scientists take Edmonton to the world, becoming ambassadors in their prominent positions at museums and research institutions all over the world.

    At the Edmonton bonebed in the Mactaggart Sanctuary at the southern city limits, Currie introduces aspiring scientists to the way dinosaurs lived—and died—working each year to uncover more secrets to the success of the key species on site—Edmontosaurus. Though this 73-million-year-old late-Cretaceous species was named more than a century ago for its discovery in the Edmonton formation, it is Currie’s work within the last decade-and-a-half that has captured the world’s collective imagination.

    Much as paleontology is often described as a “gateway science,” Currie’s work in paleontology has helped further solidify the world’s gateway to our gateway city, Edmonton. It is for this work that Currie can be celebrated as a community builder, previously recognized with the Alberta Order of Excellence, in addition to numerous honorary degrees from universities within Canada and beyond.