Employer: National Park Service, GeoCorps™ America
NFD Kid's Page Interview...
Please describe the types of work you do in paleontology.
I currently work as the National Fossil Day coordinator for this year, doing paleontology outreach and making sure that this year's National Fossil Day is really fun! I have also worked at Grand Canyon National Park, AZ as a GeoCorps Guest Scientist and at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, CO, as a GeoCorps GIP. For Grand Canyon, I spend a lot of time in the field trying to find historically reported fossil plant sites, and I did research describing how to identify leaf species from Florissant Fossil Beds based on the shape of each leaf. I love spending time in the field and travelling, and the awesome opportunity to go to Patagonia, Argentina and Australia for my Master's research.
Where did you go to school and what were some of your favorite classes that you took?
I went to Colby College, ME as an undergraduate, and then Penn State University as a graduate Student. I loved Paleobotany class, Paleobiology Conservation Seminar, Stratigraphy, and also an Insect Evolution class I took.
Briefly describe an experience that made you realize you wanted to be a paleontologist.
The first time I realized how incredible paleontology is was in my Earth History class that I took in college, before I had declared a geology major. It was a lab looking at different types of fossils and preservation, and the fossil that captivated me was a slab covered in several hundred million year old raindrop imprints. I had no idea that was even possible, and really made me wonder what else it was possible to find in rocks from past worlds.
What is your most memorable experience working with fossils?
I did my Masters Field Work in Patagonia, Argentina, and I remember there was one day we were collecting leaf fossils that was incredibly windy and cold. It was so windy that if you didn't hold the fossils well enough, they would blow out of your hands! The only thing that kept me from thinking about being cold was that every time I split open a rock, there would be the most beautiful leaf or flower fossil I had ever seen! I was completely enthralled. All day, I could hear everyone in the quarry at 30 second intervals say "woah, that's amazing".
Do you have any advice for aspiring paleontologists?
Do what you love. I graduated from Colby as a Geology Major, and had only taken one Paleontology class. But I loved it so much that I decided to go do a paleontology program in graduate school. I'm really glad I did, and I am so happy that I get to work as a Paleontologist!