Questions for a Paleontologist
Interested in Fossils or Paleontology? Do you want to know what a paleontologist does? Browse these "Questions for a Paleontologist" and learn what they do!
Interview with Eleanor Gardner
Eleanor Gardner working a Pleistocene site in the Bahamas
Name: Eleanor Gardner
Area of Focus: avian (bird) skeletal taphonomy
Institution: Florida Museum of Natural History
1. How did you become interested in Paleontology?
I became interested in paleontology after participating in an "after school science" program in second grade. The volunteer teacher had a Master's in paleontology and she made the program SO fun and exciting. I was hooked right away!
2. Explain the aspect of Paleontology that you focus on.
My research interests center upon the weathering and preservation (taphonomy) of avian bones. I do what's called "actualistic taphonomy," where dead modern organisms are put out in various environments and I document the degradation and weathering processes, and then make comparisons to the fossil record.
3. What do you do in the course of a day as a Paleontologist?
Paleontologists can work in a variety of different positions and careers. Previously, I taught geology courses as a junior faculty member at a small rural university in Tennessee. Now I work as the coordinator of The FOSSIL Project, which is a program funded by the National Science Foundation, and I am responsible for facilitating networking between professional and amateur paleontologists across the United States.
4. What was your favorite discovery or field experience?
My favorite field experience was working at a Pleistocene site in the Bahamas. Bird fossils + gorgeous Caribbean scenery = awesome!
5. Is there anything else you want to say about being a Paleontologist?
Don't be afraid to fail - whether in school or later, while doing research, don't give up! It took me 7 years to get my first academic paper published, but I kept trying until it was accepted!
Eleanor Gardner excavating a Triceratops!