EDUCATION & CAREER
• Undergraduate: Utah State University, B.S. ’77
• Graduate: Montana State University, Ph.D. Biology ’95
• Current Position: Professor, NCSU Department of Biological Sciences
• Boss Lady!
I grew up in Montana, and back in the 50s most of the dinosaurs in big city museums came my home state. But we didn’t see any of them around where i grew up, and really I never heard of them. But when I was 5, my brother left home for college in Washington DC. He had taught me how to read before he left, and to keep me at it, sent home books from the big-city museums. One was “Roy Chapman Andrews and the dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs” and the other, still one of my favorites, was “The Enormous Egg”. I was hooked. But the idea of paleontology is a lot different than actually doing it. That was a bit more complicated.
I am fascinated by what makes animals survive and thrive in their worlds; the interplay of inherent––and inherited––biology, with the world they inhabit. All of this is contained in the molecules (the DNA and proteins) of living animals, and the molecules of ancient animals would hold the same information. But after 65 million years, what is left? And how do we decipher it? How are molecules changed from the living state? What survives, and how can we recover it? How do animals transition from being part of a living ecosystem to being part of the rock record? That, and the technologies that allow us to answer those questions are the focus of my research interests.
• I love to scuba dive, ride horses and hang out with my kids.
• One time, I spend three days in the field walking around on a broken leg because i didn’t want to miss out on fossil prospecting.