In January 2021, Tanzanian scientist Dr. Joyce Singano became the first African to be awarded the Brady Medal, the highest accolade in the field of micropaleontology, the study of ancient fossil life so small that they can only be observed with the aid of a microscope. The award is given to micro paleontologists who have made a significant impact in the field through groundbreaking research and community service.
According to The Micropaleontological Society (TMS), which presented her with the award, Dr. Singano’s knowledge and contribution have played a huge role in the geology and micropaleontology research done in the country in the past twenty years.
“Some of the research that we did here in Tanzania have been used by many scientists and academics in their fields of work-and till this day, researchers and international scientists use samples from Tanzania,” Singano is quoted as saying to the CITIZEN ON SATURDAY newspaper in Tanzania.
Dr. Singano, specializes in foraminifera, amoeba-like, single-celled protists (very simple micro-organisms). They have been called ‘armored amoebae’ because they secrete a tiny shell (or ‘test’) usually between about a half and one millimetre long.
Foraminifera is said to be both the clock and the recorder of the Earth's history. It has played a crucial role in developing our understanding of the evolution of life and the environment on Earth. The earliest fossil record of foraminifera is from the Cambrian Period (about 550 million years ago). Today, there are an estimated 4,000 species of foraminifera inhabiting the world’s oceans.
She has published several papers on the exceptionally preserved Tanzanian foraminifera of the Cretaceous (about 145 to 66 million years ago, the same time period when dinosaurs became extinct) and Paleogene (the geologic period and system that spans 43 million years from the end of the Cretaceous Period 66 million years ago to the beginning of the Neogene Period 23.03 million years ago), when warm blooded mammals diversified from relatively small, simple forms into a large group of diverse animals.
Much of her work has been industry focused at the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) in Dar es Salaam, where she set up her own lab as the first Tanzanian professional micropalaeontologist.
Here is a link to Dr. Joyce M. Singano's publications;