Shannon Hsieh received a Provost/Deiss Award in Spring 2017. The award provided him with the funds to participate in a 5-week field course during summer 2017 called "Taphonomic and Ecological Processes in Tropical Environments" held at the Gerace Research Centre, on San Salvador Island, in the Bahamas. The course involved carrying out an independent research project based on the taphonomy and ecology of late Quaternary to Recent environments of the island, including both marine and terrestrial settings. His project proposal was titled " Preservation of Marine Invertebrate Behaviors and Modes of Life in a Modern Marine Environment"
and involved looking at how well modern traces left by invertebrate animals, such as trails and trackways in places like tidal mudflats and beaches, reflect the characteristics of the animals that made them. In particular, he looked at whether sites with higher densities of animals left denser traces, as well as how traces reflected the sizes of the animals that made them.
Through his study of traces and trace fossils, made possible by the Provost/Deiss Award, Shannon has made significant progress towards his larger research goal of tracking the evolution of cognitive and behavioral complexity in animals in deep time.