Ann Arbor, MI — In a significant boost to paleontological research, Kevin Velez-Rosado, a graduate student at the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology (UMMP), has been awarded the Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, amounting to $3,000.00. This grant is set to aid Velez-Rosado in defraying the costs associated with his groundbreaking research project titled "Understanding the current Caribbean biodiversity hotspot from a paleontological perspective." 

Velez-Rosado's research project is a comprehensive examination of the evolutionary history and changes in paleobiota within the Caribbean region since the end of the Cretaceous period, 66 million years ago. By employing a multidisciplinary approach, including fieldwork research, collection-based analysis, anatomical comparative techniques, and geological data, this study aims to identify both abiotic and biotic patterns that have influenced the current biodiversity hotspot in the Caribbean. 

The heart of the research lies in conducting a field expedition across fossil-bearing localities in Puerto Rico, as well as examining the collections at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Collaborating with researchers from the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology (UMMP), the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH), the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM), and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC), Velez-Rosado's project promises to contribute significantly to understanding the evolution of the Caribbean region. 

The fieldwork, scheduled for the upcoming winter break (December-January), will involve intensive exploration and data collection in various locations in Puerto Rico. The collaboration between these prestigious institutions highlights the importance of collective efforts in advancing paleontological research. 

The ultimate goal of Velez-Rosado's project is to enrich the paleontological record of the Caribbean, providing invaluable insights into the evolutionary history of paleobiota over time. The results are anticipated to have far-reaching implications for understanding the complex interplay of geological and biological factors that have shaped the Caribbean biodiversity hotspot. 

This prestigious Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant not only recognizes the merit of Kevin Velez-Rosado's research proposal but also underscores the University of Michigan's commitment to fostering cutting-edge research in the field of paleontology. The success of this project could pave the way for further advancements in our understanding of Earth's paleontological history.