Monday, March 10, 2014

Preparator job posting at UT Austin

The Jackson School of Geosciences of The University of Texas at Austin is advertising a Chief Preparator position to supervise the fossil preparation and conservation facilities at the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory (VPL), located on the J. J. Pickle Research Campus. The mission of the VPL is three-fold, involving research, conservation and education pertaining to the history of vertebrates. This position supports a dynamic research-based academic program, including 4 faculty members from across the University, and 14 graduate students in Vertebrate Paleontology alone. The Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory has access to a phenomenal range of resources, including state of the art preparation and histology facilities, diverse fossil and modern comparative collections, and also partners with the High Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography (UTCT) lab, which allows us to investigate new ways to integrate digital technologies into conventional methods. We are constantly seeking to improve laboratory workflow through technological outlets as well as refining existing techniques. VPL is the 7th largest collection in North America, and holds State, Federal, and Navajo Nation collections in public trust; collections conservation is thus a core responsibility.

The posting will remain open until filled, the position is immediately available.

View the posting and apply here:

Learn more about the program here:

Feel free to contact me for further information,

Matthew A. Brown
Laboratory Manager, Vertebrate Paleontology Collections
Lecturer, Department of Geological Sciences
The University of Texas at Austin
R7600, Austin, TX 78758

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Collecting and preparing fossils in 1925

This great film distributed by the National Museum of Canada depicts the collection, preparation, and mounting of several ceratopsian dinosaurs from Alberta, Canada. The video shows field crews setting up camp, prospecting, making Marsh picks, and blasting overburden from what looks to be the same Anchiceratops (NMC 8547) collected by Charles Sternberg's crew in 1925 that closes the end of the clip. I'm not familiar enough with this material to say for sure, but the frame could be flipped left for right, hopefully someone with enough knowledge of the localities and personnel can correct this if wrong.

Once the specimens are jacketed, loaded onto wagons, and hauled back to the museum, preparation in the laboratory begins. We see fossils in the process of consolidation and repair, as well as armatures being constructed for mounts.

This is a film without audio, I start it by listening to Fats Waller's "Inside," and follow up with Duke Ellington. Your mileage may vary. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Collections position at Tyrrell

The incredible Royal Tyrrell Museum is hiring a Collections Assistant position, more information is available at this link.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Burke has a new collections management job posting

Burke Museum - Paleontology Collections Manager

The University of Washington Burke Museum invites applications for the
full-time position, collections manager of paleontology. The museum, located
on the university campus in Seattle, is a repository for research
collections and has substantial exhibit and K-16 outreach programs.
Currently the division includes three curators, one full-time collections
manager, one full-time fossil preparator, and more than 20 adjunct curators
and research associates. Paleontological collections at the Burke Museum are
actively growing and include more than three million specimens distributed
in several subdisciplines: vertebrate paleontology, paleobotany (including
pollen and phytoliths), invertebrate paleontology, and micropaleontology.
Smaller collections of minerals and meteorites are also included in the
divisional holdings. 

The successful candidate will assist the curators in day-to-day operations.
Specific responsibilities include: managing collections budgets, including
ordering supplies and equipment; scheduling and monitoring of visiting
researchers; processing loans; processing new acquisitions; maintaining lab
and field equipment; preparing collections-related grants, permits, and
subsequent reports; training and supervising volunteers and students;
managing digital resources, including the digitization of collections data
and its dissemination on the internet. In addition, educational
responsibilities include facilitating use of the collections in
undergraduate and graduate courses as well as in exhibit and public

Here is the link:
UW req #98464

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Position in New Mexico

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History is hiring a Museum Technician and Conservator position, more info and the listing here:

Purpose of PositionThe position exists as part of the Museum's legislative mandate to develop and maintain a collection of New Mexico natural history, in this case is a collection of fossils, rocks and minerals. This position will be responsible for handling over 70,000 fossils, rocks and minerals. The Museum currently has a collection of this kind that numbers nearly 70,000 cataloged specimens. The maintenance of this collection is essential to Museum mission and to maintain AAM accreditation. This position will oversee the care of the entire collection and keep active and current records (especially its computer databases) and to participate in collection related public programs, education outreach and lectures. This position will work with, and monitor the work of volunteers, adjuncts and interns in the preparatory fossil area and while conducting research studies in the collections.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

AMNH fossil preparator position

Reposted from the vrtpaleo mailing list:




Date:  08/01/2013

Job Title:  Preparator (Paleontology)

Responsibilities & Duties:
The responsibilities and duties of the position include preparation and restoration of vertebrate fossils, especially detailed microscope-based anatomical preparation, using a full range of mechanical and chemical methods; creating molds and casts; assisting in laboratory operations, and other divisional tasks as assigned.

Required Qualifications:
Bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience (typically at least 4 years of specimen or exhibit preparation) required.  Demonstrated high level of professional skill, innovation, and cooperativeness. Outstanding manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination, attention to detail, and patience. Knowledge of vertebrate anatomy useful. Good organizational, excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work independently.

Preferred Qualifications:
Bachelor's degree in life sciences plus at least one full year of practical experience in preparation, molding and casting.

Interested parties should apply online: 

Applications must be received no later than September 13, 2013

Applications cannot be accepted via email or snail mail

**Please Note: Due to the volume of applications, we are not able to respond to email inquires regarding the status of an application**

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world's preeminent scientific and cultural institutions. Since it’s founding in 1869, the
Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret and
disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world and the
universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education
and exhibition. The Museum is renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections, which serve as a field guide to the entire planet and present
a panorama of the world's cultures.

The America
 Employer. The Museum does not discriminate due to age, sex, religion, race, color,
national origin, disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual
orientation, or any other factor prohibited by law. Qualified candidates
of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds are encouraged to apply for
vacant positions at all levels. Please be advised that due to the high
volume of applicants, we are only able to contact those candidates whose
skills and background best fit the needs of the open position.

Ruth O'Leary
Director of Collections, Archives and Preparation
Division of Paleontology
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West @ 79th Street
New York
NY 10024

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Expanding the conversation on casual collecting on Federal lands

This post is in response to a thoughtful comment left by an invertebrate paleontologist by the name of Phil on my previous post regarding The Paleontological Society's reaction to proposed USFS policy for managing paleontological resources. Read his comment first.

I do appreciate that there is a difference in the scale or scope of some vert vs. non-vert collecting. I have dug several-meter wide quarries and excavated sauropod dinosaurs, disrupting an enormous amount of overburden in the process. I've also certainly spent my share of hours crawling across outcrop collecting tiny nodules hoping for primate teeth. In that case the results of two weeks of prospecting fit into a quart sized baggie. That the fossils were wee, or that my actions were relatively non-invasive does not constitute casual collecting. The method of collection or quantity collected is not the point, and neither is your attitude while collecting. The law speaks to the use of the material. Research collecting vs. hobbyist collecting is the distinction to make, "casual" does not mean "not that difficult."

To reiterate, the land agencies are tasked with resource management, they must balance needs for science, conservation, recreation, and commercialization. Certainly the type of excavation required for megafauna has more potential to impact natural resources and make land managers nervous. However, compliance with laws like NEPA and ARPA is only part of the reason that Federal agencies want to know what researchers are up to in the field- they learn more about the resources in their care through the processes of permitting, annual reporting, and subsequent publication. Also, the agencies have to report to Congress letting them know what kind of job their staff are doing managing that land. They can additionally help coordinate or facilitate research projects, when they know they are going on.

One vertebrate paleontologist collecting and reporting under a research permit will be interacting with agency land managers, communicating about their findings, receiving in some cases material help in the form of volunteers, vehicular support, or funding, and in the process is educating the government employees about the scientific value of their study area. Joint press releases are even released sometimes, highlighting the partnership. One hundred invertebrate paleontologists collecting under "casual use" provisions will receive none of this attention, so maybe it is no wonder that non-vert paleo is underfunded/recognized.

The final and most important point is this- the current USFS proposal is restating past regulations in compliance with the new PRPA law. There is nothing new about the content. I acknowledge that Phil was commenting from his perspective only, but if invertebrate paleontologists feel like regulations about research permitting on public lands is some fresh new hell, then there is certainly more misinformation circulating than I'd feared. In the words of the U.S. Forest Service:
"Failure to obtain a special use permit for research violates Forest Service Policy and Federal environmental regulations, and may jeopardize completion of the research."