Joseph Cushman is a founding father of American micropaleontology. He was a pioneer in the use of foraminifera to support oil exploration in North America, developing a classification method that for the first time allowed foraminifera to be used for borehole correlation. In the early years of oil exploration, Cushman's emerging science made him an indispensible resource to those who went on to become the founders of "Big Oil" in the States. The scientific independence he achieved through his consulting work with oil companies led Joseph Cushman to transform micropaleontology over decades of collaboration with scientists, including many who trained with him in his Sharon, Massachusetts home and laboratory.
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