Queen’s Research Chair
Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Queen's University Kingston, Ontario
Dr. Guy Narbonne is a paleontologist who studies the origin and early evolution of animals and their ecosystems. He is especially well known internationally for his studies of the Ediacaran biota (575 - 542 million years old), a Precambrian fossil assemblage of soft-bodied organisms that represent the first animals on Earth. Some Ediacaran fossils appear to represent the rootstock from which modern animals evolved, while others are difficult to classify with any living animal groups and may represent a "failed experiment" in the evolution of life. Ediacaran communities were the first animal ecosystems on Earth, and studies of their interactions with their environment and each other can shed light on the origin of ecosystems. Dr. Narbonne played a widely-acknowledged leadership role in this international collaboration, and is admired for his ability to tackle some of the most interesting paleobiological and paleoecological problems with flair and distinction.
Dr. Narbonne's scientific publications on this subject include: the proposal of the now internationally accepted base of the Cambrian Period; discovery of significant new Ediacaran fossil sites in northwestern Canada, Newfoundland, southern Africa, and Australia; discovery of the world's oldest-known fossil animals; the first use of modern techniques in spatial ecology to study Precambrian animals; definition of the first new geological period ratified in more than a century (Ediacaran Period); and a recent cover story in Science magazine documenting an extinct experiment in the Precambrian evolution of animals. He is also actively researching Precambrian carbonates, especially the early evolution of reefs. All of these studies are highly interdisciplinary and utilize paleontology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and isotope geochemistry to unravel the early evolution of animals and reefs.
Dr. Narbonne has published numerous scientific papers and has won Best Paper awards from the Geological Association of Canada, the Society for Sedimentary Geology, and the Paleontological Society. He is known within his discipline as a superb speaker and has been awarded Excellence in Presentation awards from international societies. He has also served as a Distinguished Lecturer for a number of national and international societies, and has presented more than 60 invited lectures at geological societies and universities around the world, including Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard.
Discover magazine selected two of Dr. Narbonne's scientific papers (fractal organization of early animals; erection of the Ediacaran Period) as among the top 100 science discoveries for the year 2004. His views on the early evolution of animals have attracted considerable interest from the scientific and popular media, including television appearances on CBC National News, CBC Newsworld, and the BBC, radio commentaries for CBC World at Six, CBC Quirks and Quarks, German Public Radio, and magazines references in TIME magazine, National Geographic, Natural History, Canadian Geographic and L’Actualité.
Among his students and peers, Dr. Narbonne is known as an extraordinarily gifted and dedicated teacher. He frequently receives outstanding evaluations for his inspired and enthusiastic teaching, not only in the classroom but also in field work.