2009 – Journalism Award

Award: Journalism Award

Awardees: Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll

Publication: The Outcrop, November 2009, p. 16

The Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists presents its 2009 Journalism Award to Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll for their outstanding collaboration on Cruisin’ The Fossil Freeway – An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-Mile Paleo Road Trip.

Recipient of a 2008 Colorado Book Award, Cruisin’ follows the most unusual travels of a paleontologist and an artist as they drive across the American West in search of fossils. Throughout their journey, they encounter “paleonerds” like themselves, dedicated to finding everything from suburban T. rex to killer Eocene pigs to ancient fossilized forests. A fascinating travelogue, Cruisin’ shows us that fossils are everywhere if you learn to look for them – even at 65 miles per hour!

Simon Winchester, a former recipient of AAPG’s Journalism Award, has aptly described the collaborating duo …

“No one – not even Steven Spielberg – can explain the magic of the Jurassic as cleverly and comprehensively as America’s current Master of the Mesozoic, Kirk Johnson. Now, together with the magnificently eccentric fossil-­artist Ray Troll, Kirk reports on a paleontological odyssey that manages to be informative, witty, educational, and enormous fun.”

Paleontologist Kirk Johnson is vice president and chief curator of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. His research focuses on fossil plants, ancient climates, and the K/T boundary, and he regularly works with artists to make his science accessible. He is the author of three other popular science books: Prehistoric Journey: A History of the Life on Earth, Ancient Denvers: Scenes from the Past 300 Million Years of the Colorado Front Range, and Gas Trees and Car Turds: A Kids’ Guide to the Roots of Global Warming.

Artist Ray Troll is best known for his twisted yet accurate fish-oriented imagery. Ray has illustrated half a dozen popular books, and his science-infused art has appeared on more than a million T-shirts and has formed the core of two traveling exhibits: Dancing to the Fossil Record and Amazon Voyage: Vicious Fishes and Other Riches. He and his wife, Michelle, own and operate the Soho Coho gallery, located on a salmon-spawning stream in the former red-light district of Ketchikan, Alaska.

With the 2009 Journalism Award, RMAG wishes to acknowledge the creativity and dedication of Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll in sharing their passion with a broad audience.