Hello world, it’s Anna, and I have finally emerged from the hole I crawled into during finals week. Even though summer is supposed to be here, State College is still 50 degrees and raining, so I figure now is the perfect time to start writing the blog I have been drafting in the margins of my notes all year.
I’m a huge hockey fan and I love watching Parks and Rec, Bob’s Burgers, and Game of Thrones. I have a bucket list to visit all of the national parks, as well as all of the NHL arenas. Growing up in central PA, I spent a lot of time in quarries and mines with my dad because of his job as an engineer. I got started in paleontology by collecting local fossils, which are mostly Ordovician marine life or plant fossils from Pennsylvanian coal swamps.
I have been involved with Penn State research since high school, and working in a lab here is challenging and a lot of fun. My major is in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, which is one of the smaller colleges on campus, and Geobiology is an even tinier proportion (I think there’s maybe 6 of us? 7?). I am also in the Schreyer Honors College, and their support for my projects, trips, and research has been crucial.
I’m writing this blog because I thought it would be fun to chronicle my (mis)adventures as a paleontology student, as well as talk about interesting topics I learn about as I go. I think a lot of people have misconceptions about paleontology, so I’ll try to answer the ones I get asked the most:
- No, I’m not going to make Jurassic Park. I want to go bigger.
- Yes, there are more things to study than dinosaurs (SO MANY).
- No, I do not look for mummies/Aztec temples/Jade figurines/Chrystal alien skulls. Indiana Jones was based on a paleontologist though, so we do have that in common with the archeologists.
- Yes, I do actually hope to get a job in my field.
- Yes, it is a relevant science with implications for understanding extinction, climate change, environmental impact, and our place in the tree of life.
Paleontology did not began nor end with the “Great Dinosaur Rush” of the American West in the 19th century, and advancements in photography and photogrammetry, molecular evidence, 3-D scanning techniques, computer modeling and analytics are expanding the scope of paleontology to new horizons and applications everyday.
While I will try to be as accurate in my writing as possible, I do not have decades of experience, so the interpretation of research presented here is based on my skill level and understanding. Take that with a grain of salt, and if I’m wrong, please let me know!
Hopefully this intro will make the blog page look less sad and empty, and next I’ll start writing about my current projects, planned summer research, and anything else that pops up. Thanks for reading!