2007 Estes Memorial Grant Recipient
I grew up in Rockland County, New York, just 30 miles from New York City and the American Museum of Natural History. I visited the museum (and the Bronx Zoo!) so frequently as a child that I could give guided tours before I started the first grade. My passion for zoology, evolution, and the history of life began then and grew through high school. In 2000 I began my undergraduate degree at Cornell University with the original intent of specializing in science education. I enrolled in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program and after taking Dr. Kelly Zamudio's class on vertebrate zoology I decided that what I really wanted to do was research. I spent two summers participating in undergraduate research on insect and plant interactions and during a third I traveled to Pittsburgh for an internship at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I worked with Dr. Timothy Pearce in the section of Molluscs and volunteered in the Vertebrate Paleontology Prep Lab. My experiences at the Carnegie renewed my childhood interest in paleontology and cemented my future in vertebrate research.
After earning my bachelors degree in 2004, I spent a year working in the University of Texas Computed Tomography Lab where I learned the finer points of incorporating CT technology into paleontological research. In 2005 I began my PhD studies at The University of Texas at Austin under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Bell. While there I have undertaken a number of small studies on uropeltid snakes and fossil salamanders. I am primarily interested in the evolution of limblessness and the origins of modern amphibians. Together these topics have pointed me in the direction of my current doctoral research, which focuses on development in the group Microsauria. I am extremely grateful to the Society for choosing me as the recipient of the Richard Estes Memorial Grant. The support given through the award provides me with the opportunity to incorporate rare, Eastern European microsaur specimens into my dissertation project.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Olori.