Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Results of 2011 SVP Preparators Grant

In February of 2012 The University of Texas at Austin hosted a writing workshop to support the 2011 SVP Preparators Grant, which was awarded to Matthew Brown for the proposal titled "Teaching fossil preparation methods, developing standards and curricula" submitted by Brown, Amy Davidson, and Matt Smith. In addition to Steve Jabo and Marilyn Fox, the group set out to "define standards for preparation and identify necessary skills and abilities required to competently prepare fossils." Two products were completed, a white paper outlining essential competencies for preparation, and a sample curriculum for teaching paleontological laboratory methods.

The Grant Report as submitted to the SVP Grant Committee can be downloaded here.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Laboratory documentation survey

Dear colleagues,

As part of a project examining lab methods in vertebrate paleontology, I've put together a quick survey to get a general sense of what kind of and how much information we record about lab methods. If you are associated with an institution responsible for the preparation and conservation of fossils, three minutes of your time to answer the 8 multiple choice questions would be greatly appreciated. An analysis of the completely anonymous answers may be included in reports to committees or via the paleo literature. At minimum, I'll post the results on a blog in a few weeks.

The survey will be open for 10 days, simply click the link below, answer the eight questions, and click Done. That's it!


Thanks in advance for your time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

1,2,3,4, I declare a thumb war

 Avulsion fracture of the proximal phalanx due to a repetitive stress injury of the ulnar collateral ligament. Not what I wanted to hear going into the field season. Utah Geological Survey preparator Scott Madsen (formerly National Park Service) has given several talks about the frequency of work related injuries in paleontology over the last ten years, and the safety message always bears repeating.

This joint has been hurting for a few weeks, but since my body (hands and arms in particular) is always feeling twinges or aches I ignored it, as they always go away at some point. But not this time. After bumping my thumb on a doorknob and feeling an explosion of pain that was clearly not tendonitis, I decided to have it looked at. The initial diagnosis was a strained or torn UCL, and the radiologist called the next day to inform me that the bone was fractured as well. This injury seems to be consistent with a condition called Gamekeeper's Thumb, or when acute, Skier's Thumb. 

There wasn't a single traumatic event that immediately led to the pain, I know that I first took note a month ago during Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals. While at a bar watching the Rangers lose, I remember asking for a cup of ice to numb the pain in my thumb. Earlier that day I had been trying in vain to open a consolidant bottle that was firmly glued closed, I hate to think that event may be what triggered the fracture, but I suppose it shouldn't be ruled out.
Since posting the xray on Facebook, I've since heard from a number of colleagues who have experienced similar pain. The takeaway is that joints and bones aren't supposed to hurt like hell all the time, and it is worth having these things checked out before long term damage is done. If you've suffered work related injuries in the lab or field, let me know and I'll pass the info along to Pedro Viegas, who has been collecting data on similar injuries. For hand safety, he recommends these anti-vibration gloves.

My next few weeks are doomed to taking it easy and wearing a goofy looking (and quite uncomfortable) cast to immobilize the thumb. Hopefully I can be good and give the hand some time off from airscribes, chisels, pinvises, shotguns, truck ignitions, shirt buttons, using a fork, taking off socks, driving stick, sculpting, writing, typing.... Jeez, I sure use my right thumb a lot.  

Madsen, S. 2002. Work-related injuries and illnesses related to preparation and fieldwork. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Supplement to No. 3

Madsen, S. 2008. The Preparator: a survivor’s guide. First Annual Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium, Abstracts of Papers 1:14

Friday, June 15, 2012

Berkeley fossil preparation position

The University of California Museum of Paleontology is hiring a fossil preparator. For more information click this link and search for job code 14091.

06/12/2012    Scientist, Museum, Sr #14091    14091    Main Campus-Berkeley

Contact Assistant Director Mark Goodwin for more information.
(510) 643-9745

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A really great Collection Forum paper

was published last month by Amy Davidson and Greg Brown. It is about the practical use of Paraloid B-72 in the paleontology preparation and conservation lab, and is precisely the paper I've been waiting my whole career for someone to write. I'm very glad it was Amy and Greg, this is THE reference that anyone who handles fossils must read. It thoroughly covers methods for application, manipulation, and storage of Paraloid B-72, and provides excellent justification for the selection of B-72 in many paleontological applications.  I've very excited to include this paper as required reading in my Paleontological Laboratory Methods class next semester. Even though I've used this material frequently for more than a decade, I still learned a lot reading their work. There is also another excellent paper in this edition on collections management by some of my UT colleagues. But actually, this post isn't really about these great papers.

I have been waiting to provide a review of "Paraloid B-72: Practical tips for the vertebrate fossil preparator" since I got a sneak peak of the paper in April at the Seattle FPCS meeting during Amy's Paraloid B-72 workshop. My hard copy of Collection Forum arrived in my mailbox in early May, but I wanted to hold off until the PDF was available on the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (www.spnhc.org) website so that I could link to it. Current year PDFs of Collection Forum are only available to SPNHC members, which certainly makes sense as a method for encouraging membership. But as of tonight, the 2011 link is the most recent available. Even so, I wasn't too inclined to gripe about that, until I heard, much to my dismay, that Collections Forum may be going digital only. I hope this isn't true. I realize that $25 is very inexpensive for a membership that includes a journal subscription. But I would be extremely willing to pay more, if this were a question of financial hardship for the organization. For the same reason I still buy CDs and DVDs. Even Bluray discs. I'm a museum professional. I'm astounded that a museum collections organization would abandon paper for an untested technology like PDFs. I'll wager that only one of them will be in an accessible format 300 years from now. Plus, I'm over the age of 19. I can't read long papers on a computer screen. Sadly, when I finally print out that PDF, it likely won't be on archival paper.

The immediate question of access is still an interesting one. I bet the overwhelming majority of people who absolutely need to read this paper are not members of SPNHC. Though they should be. The goals of this organization are worthy, and I want to support them. I have several papers and books in progress right now, and I was sure that SPNHC was the venue for at least some of them, but now I question whether that is true. The goal of authorship is dissemination of information, and while none of our citation rankings are going to be sky high for these topics, if I want my colleagues to have as ready access as possible to my work, I think asking whether Collection Forum is the place for them might yield interesting discussion. At the least, I'd expect PDF author copies for immediate dissemination. Additionally, even though all back issues are available as PDFs, I didn't see it in JSTOR and neither of my institutions have a subscription to Collection Forum. And one of these is a Museum Studies program.

However, by all means be encouraged to join and support SPNHC! Amy and Greg's paper alone is worth the 25 bucks.

Davidson, A. and G. Brown. 2012. Paraloid B-72: Practical tips for the vertebrate fossil preparator. Collection Forum 26(1--2):99-119

Molineux, A. et al. 2012. GIS, the key to collections management of a large research archive. Collection Forum 26(1--2):60-69

Monday, June 11, 2012

6th Annual FPCS

Reposted from the preplist-

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is pleased to announce that we will be hosting the 6th Annual Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium, in April 2013.  The symposium will take place from April 20 to 22, with a mixer and early registration the evening of April 19th and a tentatively planned full day field trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park April 23rd.

We are in the initial stages of planning, and are actively soliciting ideas from everyone  for workshops you would like to see. We will  be distributing a list of workshop ideas that was generated in-house at the Tyrrell  in the next week or so.

Realizing that it is a long way off yet, it would be great to get a rough idea of attendance to aid in planning. Please let me know via email if you think you can make it.  As planning continues, we will update via the Prep list and also on our web page: www.tyrrellmuseum.com.


Jim McCabe
Preparation Lab Supervisor
T: 403-823-7707 Ext. 3303 | F: 403-823-7131

Royal Tyrrell Museum
Box 7500, Drumheller, Alberta T0J 0Y0 Canada

Florida Museum of Natural History position

Forwarded from the preplist-

Dear all;

The following 2-year, full-time, fossil preparator position was recently posted. We are seeking a preparator to work on vertebrate fossils from the Panama Canal. The job entails working for periods of time at both the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL, and at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, Panama.


Please feel free to contact me with any questions... thanks!

Jason R. Bourque
Senior Preparator
Division of Vertebrate Paleontology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Dickinson Hall, University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

Friday, May 11, 2012

Another Smithsonian job

Reposted from the preplist:

Museum Technician position now open in the Department of Paleobiology, Smithsonian Institution. The position closes on MAY 21.

Assists and performs collections management work including conservation, collections facilities and environment, storage, and/or packing and shipping.
* Participates in functions of registration, loans of collections between museums, and information management.
* Uses database management systems to perform quality control to reduce digitizing errors and batch correct errors present in the collections database.
* Using terminology in the scientific field of paleontology, describes and classifies fossil flora and fauna of the world, geologic time, and stratigraphy.
* Assists in the digitizing and imaging of collection data according to the digitization goals established by the Department; assists in generation and preparation of digital specimen images and long-term image management.

1) Open to any US Citizen or US National
Vacancy Announcement #: 12R-JL-297387-DEU-NMNH
Title/Series/Grade: Museum Technician (Geology), GS- 1016 - 5
Location: Washington DC
Organization: NMNH

This position is open to all U.S. Citizens or U.S. Nationals.

2) Open to current and former Federal employees with permanent status or reinstatement eligibility (see below)
Vacancy Announcement #: 12R-JL-297387-MPA-NMNH
Title/Series/Grade: Museum Technician (Geology), GS- 1016 - 5
Location: Washington DC
Organization: NMNH

This position is open to current and former Federal employees with permanent status or reinstatement eligibility. Individuals who are eligible for a special appointing authority may also apply; such as applicants with a disability, former Peace Corps volunteers, certain military spouses, veterans seeking a VRA/VEOA appointment, or veterans who have been separated from armed forces under honorable conditions after 3 years or more of continuous active service.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R.T. Bird Excavating tracks

This is awesome. Thanks Youtube.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Very successful FPCS 5!

Having begun my recovery (and finished my taxes) from the fantastic meeting at the Burke Museum that wrapped up on Sunday, I'd like to say a huge thanks to Christian Sidor, Bruce Crowley, and especially Jessica Cima for hosting and organizing this terrific event. Thanks are due also to the wonderful slate of speakers who presented on a wide variety of topics. Vendors and field trip hosts opened our eyes to some new technologies and methods for caring for fossils, the weather was perfect, and the venue was well suited to our crowd. This was another meeting filled with international colleagues, new ideas, and fantastic conversation.

The venue for the 2013 is still being worked out, but it will be cohosted as the Annual Meeting of the Association for Methods and Materials in Paleontology. More on this will follow as information becomes available!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Modern fossils

This dude is my new hero.

Six collections care jobs opening at the Smithsonian

Copied from the preplist:

The Smithsonian's Natural History Museum is now hiring six (6!) full-time, 4-year term positions in the Office of the Associate Director of Collections and Research (ADRC). Basically, they are in the Collections Management realm, to provide assistance with museum collections management tasks including collections care and conservation, specimen/object curation, pest management, storage improvement, data capture, digitization, and maintenance of datasets containing information. They are not specific to any particular discipline, so there's an opportunity to work in any department of the Museum.

More information on the Duties and application instructions can be found here:
The hiring level is at GS-5, with promotion potential to a GS-7.
The closing date is April 30th.

Good luck!

Steve Jabo
VP Prep Lab
Department of Paleobiology
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
Natural History, MRC-121
Washington, DC  20013-7012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Seattle FPCS Schedule is here- plus new FPCS website

The schedule of this year's Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium can be downloaded from the new FPCS website (work in progress) hosted at FossilPrep.org. There are a bunch of great talks, workshops, field trips, and more slated for this meeting, I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone next week!

Don't forget to bring something to the Burke for the live auction Friday night! Last year's auction raised over $2500 in seed money for 2012. Thanks again to Arvid Aase for doing such an amazing job... anyone think we can we top it this year?

Looks like the UW host committee [Jessica Cima, Bruce Crowley, and Christian Sidor] have done a fantastic job putting this show together.

Smithsonian Fossil Preparator Job

Copied from the Preplist:

The Smithsonian's Natural History Museum is very happy to advertise for a full-time, permanent position in our Vertebrate Paleontology Prep Lab, in the Department of Paleobiology.
As the Summary says, "The employee provides assistance in research through preparation of fossil vertebrate specimens; aids in collecting, repairing and conserving collections of fossil vertebrates; and performs basic curatorial functions such as rearranging and documenting the collections."
The Duties are:
   Assists in the preparation and replication of fossil vertebrate specimens for study, exhibition, and incorporation into the National Collections.
   Assists in the field work for collection of vertebrate fossils as directed in the company of NMNH staff.
   Maintains and improves the fossil vertebrate collections as directed.
   Interacts with a diversity of individuals and groups including visitors, volunteers, amateur paleontologists, students and colleagues from this and other institutions.

Please sharpen your favorite crayon, sharpen your CV, and get your application in as soon as possible! And please spread the word to as many people as possible (so no apologies for cross-posting :-). This is a great opportunity for everyone involved.

The important dates:

Opening Date: April 5, 2012


And here's where to find the nuts and bolts of applying. (The two links are for the same job)

Announcement #:                           12R-MR-297386-DEU-NMNH (public/non-status)
Position Title:                                    Museum Technician (Geology)
Open and Close Dates:                  April 5, 2012 – April 19, 2012
Vacancy Location:                            Washington, DC
Last Updated:                                    April 5, 2012
Pay Plan/Series/Grades:               GS-1016-07 ($42,209.00 to $54,875.00 / Per Year)



Saturday, March 31, 2012

5th Annual FPCS update

The Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle will be hosting the 5th Annual Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium on April 12–14, 2012. The symposium will include platform presentations, posters, roundtable discussions, workshops, and local field trips.

The abstract book can now be downloaded here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

North Carolina Preparation job

 The entirety of the listing is reposted from the Preplist:

Dear Colleagues,

Please see the following position announcement and pass along to any
interested parties.

The newly constructed Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum
of Natural Sciences is seeking an exceptional individual to provide
technical and managerial assistance to the Director of the Paleontology and
Geology Research Laboratory. The successful candidate will play a key role
in creating a dynamic, team-centered environment and participate in
cutting-edge outreach programs using leading digital technology to connect
with students, teachers, and community members.

Primary duties for this position involve preparation of fossil specimens,
co-organizing and participating in domestic and international field
expeditions, molding and casting fossil specimens, supervising, recruiting,
and training field and laboratory volunteers and student interns, assisting
with the laboratories annual preparation and field certification course for
volunteers and students, and collaborating with other museum scientists to
design and implement groundbreaking educational outreach programs focused
on paleontological research.

Candidates must demonstrate mastery of fossil preparation and field
techniques. Experience in micropreparation, acid preparation, molding and
casting, and histological sample preparation required. Preference will be
given to candidates with experience implementing public outreach and
volunteer programs, and/or who are proficient in digital technology.

The working title for this position is "Assistant Lab Manager"; however,
you will find the position listed with the HR department as Curatorial
Technician. The position is housed in the Biology Department at North
Carolina State University, therefore the successful candidate will be an
employee of NC State University; however, the location of the work will be
at the Nature Research Center of the North Carolina Museum of Natural

The museum seeks to hire immediately; therefore, candidate review will
begin the 22nd of March. However, the position will remain open until

The position can be viewed at:  http://jobs.ncsu.edu/postings/5660.

Please email me directly with questions.

Lindsay E. Zanno, Ph.D.

Director, Paleontology & Geology Research Laboratory
Nature Research Center
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
121 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27603
Phone: (919) 707-8289
Email: lindsay.zanno@ncdenr.gov

Research Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
North Carolina State University
Campus Box 7617, Raleigh NC 27695

E-mail correspondence to and from this address may be subject to the North
Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.