2011 Marvin and Beth Hix Preparators' Grant

Matthew Brown


Matthew Brown is the Laboratories Manager and Chief Preparator at the University of Texas at Austin Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory [https://webspace.utexas.edu/mab4775/www].  Originally from the Chicago area, he was trained in preparation at the University of Chicago, beginning in 1996. He later moved a few miles up Lake Shore Drive to The Field Museum, and after seven years was drawn west to Petrified Forest National Park. He arrived in Austin in 2009. Over the last 16 years, he has consulted for the University of California, Berkeley; The Burpee Museum of Natural History; the American College of Surgeons; the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History; and the National Park Service. Field work and laboratory research visits have taken him to 25 U.S. states, Canada, England, France, Japan, Peru, and New Zealand.

Matthew's research spans the history of laboratory methods, innovations in preparation and conservation techniques, and the construction of scientific knowledge. His M.Sc. thesis in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester (2013) explores the nature of scientific specimens and the effect that laboratory methods have on data. He has actively pursued interests in training and standards in fossil preparation. This includes serving as an instructor for the Smithsonian Institution FossiLab volunteer training program, as well as developing and instructing a collaborative preparation training internship between California State University at San Bernardino and Petrified Forest National Park. He has also served as a member of the SVP Preparators Committee focusing on professional development, and the Ad Hoc Fossil Repositories and Collections Guidelines Committee. In 2008 he organized and hosted the first Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium at Petrified Forest.

The Preparators Grant funding will be used to support a writing workshop hosted at The University of Texas at Austin Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory. Participants include Amy Davidson (American Museum of Natural History), Marilyn Fox (Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History), Steve Jabo (National Museum of Natural History), and Matt Smith (Petrified Forest National Park). The goal of this workshop is to produce preparation standards documents defining competencies in preparation. An ancillary product is a curriculum for training and evaluating preparators that can be modified and adopted by other institutions and organizations.