Paper No. 96-1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM
ANITA HARRIS – A CAREER OF SHINING LIGHT ON SUSPECT TERRAINS
Honoring Anita Harris at a Pander Society session on ‘all things conodont’ is fitting. Anita’s career embraced that, and more. Her accomplishments included calibrating conodonts and temperature, and establishing the conodont color alteration index (CAI), serving eight years as a USGS geologic map editor – improving USGS maps and making personal contacts that served well later. Anita published geologic maps in the Appalachians and CAI maps and thermal maturation studies of the Appalachians, the Great Basin, Arizona, New Mexico, and large parts of Alaska. Anita actively participated in numerous mineral resource studies in the Great Basin and Alaska, conducting fieldwork where conodont analysis solved stratigraphic and structural problems and her insights led to new ideas of regional geology and syntheses, for example: in New England, where dating one problematic formation required processing 40-lb samples; in Alaska, where rough fieldwork, and often metamorphosed and deformed conodonts nonetheless resulted in geologic and paleogeographic breakthroughs; in Nevada and Sonora, where more rough fieldwork (javelina BBQ anyone?), brought ‘home’ more answers to geologic questions and hard data to barren spots on maps.
Anita was sought out internationally, and pioneered conodont dating and CAI in parts of Tibet, China, and Morocco. She traveled extensively to communicate her research; in fact, and after the fact, following an abortive trip to present her research at an Arctic geology conference in Magadan, Anita pointed out with some pride that she must be one of those rare folks deported from Siberia.
Anita was an eager and effective teacher and mentor to those willing to listen and work hard. Her teaching involved college students (e.g., teaching semesters at Duke & Case Western), students and interns who ‘crushed, fizzed, and picked’ for her and who also learned more than they bargained for, with most moving on to become professors, researchers, and managers. Anita shared her insights into Devonian taxonomy and stratigraphy to fellow Panderers from whom she demanded quid pro quo about their respective areas of specialization. Out of town and out of country visitors were hosted by Anita for days to weeks, with the only cost being the sharing of their cuisines and becoming sleep-deprived from long-into-the-night discussions.