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12 January 2023

Lapworth Medal awarded to Emeritus Professor Moya Meredith Smith

The prestigious award is the Palaeontological Association's highest recognition for exceptional lifetime achievement

Moya Meredith Smith Lapworth Medal

Emeritus Professor Moya Meredith Smith has been announced as the 2022 recipient of the Palaeontological Association’s Lapworth Medal. The award is the most prestigious honour bestowed by the Association to a palaeontologist who has made a highly significant contribution to the science of palaeontology by means of a substantial body of research and service to the scientific community.

Emeritus Professor of Evolution and Development of Dentoskeletal Anatomy in the Centre for Craniofacial & Regenerative Biology, Moya Meredith Smith is known for her pursuit of innovative ideas, and challenging established views on skeletal and dental evolution. Her career has spanned almost 60 years, focusing on the evolution of dentitions and vertebrate hard tissues, in both living and fossil animals. Moya's research incorporates both developmental biology and palaeontology, and during her long career she has produced seminal works in both fields.

I was greatly honoured and taken aback when the president informed me I was the 2022 recipient of the Lapworth Medal. I have been, for all my time, a teacher and researcher into Dental Anatomy at its widest range of interest and in living examples. So to be given this acknowledgement by the Palaeontological Association, in which many geologists reside, is very special indeed to me. This should be true too for King’s, as Sir Charles Lyell was Professor of Geology here in the 1830s. He showed how all the sediments in layers of the rocks were the timed expression of the evolution of life. I have only tried to explain a very small part of this story as the evolution of dentitions from fish to us.

Moya Meredith Smith, Emeritus Professor of Evolution and Development of Dentoskeletal Anatomy at King’s College London

Huge congratulations to a good friend and colleague! Moya has had a major impact on my academic upbringing and has been an amazing person to work with in the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences!

Dr Aaron LeBlanc, Lecturer in Dental Biosciences at King's College London
Moya Meredith Smith holding the 2022 Lapworth Medal
Emeritus Professor Moya Meredith Smith with the 2022 Lapworth Medal at the Museum of Life Sciences, King's College London

Moya began her lectureship career in Dental Anatomy at King's College in 1968 and then following moves and promotions at the Royal Dental Hospital and UMDS she came back to King's College. She gained her DSC in 1991 and became Professor of Evolutionary Dental Skeletal Biology in 1998. The significance of her work is acknowledged by her publications in the highest quality journals including Nature and Science.

Moya continues to actively pursue research and is a regular invited participant at vertebrate skeletal evolution conferences. She is currently a Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum.

The Palaeontological Association was founded in 1957 and promotes the study of palaeontology and its allied sciences through publication of original research and field guides, sponsorship of meetings and field excursions, provision of web resources and information and a program of annual awards.

Lapworth medal 450x800

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Moya Meredith Smith

Professor of Evolutionary Dentoskeletal Biology