An event 65 Million years in the making, the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC) held its third annual 'Dig Deep' Gala.

During the evening the Dr. Elizabeth "Betsy" Nicholls award for Excellence in Paleontology was presented to renowned Paleontologist Dr. Mary Higby Schweitzer from North Carolina State University.

Much like Nicholls, Schweitzer has made strides in a field that was once heavily dominated by men. She made a revolutionary discovery shattering the concepts of how fossilization is achieved, with the discovery of soft tissues in a Tyrannosaurus rex specimen.

The recipient of this award is chosen for their accomplishments in paleontology, and follows in the footsteps of Nicholls, embodying the same strength, willingness to overcome adversity, and not taking no for an answer. Meeting these criteria, Schweitzer was chosen to receive this honour.

"It is an amazing honour, it really is," said Schweitzer. "I really wish I had the chance to get to know Betsy."

Schweitzer gave a presentation explaining her discovery of soft-tissue in fossils and the science in identifying it.

This was Schweitzer's first time in Manitoba and she was impressed with the CFDC. She says these are her people, and growing up in the country, visiting a community like Morden feels like home.

She also shared having rural museums are critical as the fossils remain a part of the community instead of being shipped across the country.

"For me, it's so important because the fossils get to stay where they are found. They get to educate the people there who don't get to go to the city and don't get to see these things first hand."

Executive Director of the CFDC Peter Cantelon says the evening exceeded every expectation with almost 200 attending the event this year.

Cantelon says the presentation given by Schweitzer on her studies in Molecular Paleontology and the science behind her discovery of soft tissue was fascinating and was one of the reasons the evening was successful.