About Me

My name is Jen and as of fall 2019 I have joined the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology (UMMP) as the Invertebrate Paleontology Collection Manager. All of the natural history collections are housed in a facility just south of main UM campus. My time is split between collection management, outreach, and research.

I recently completed a postdoctoral position at the Florida Museum of Natural History. My current role is geared toward curating a digital fossil collection on myFOSSIL and helping get a new institute off the ground and functioning (the Thompson Earth Systems Institute). I am still actively working on my researching which involves working toward better understanding the evolution of an extinct echinoderm group, Eublastoidea. This is primarily to act as a digital and expanded version of my current CV.  In addition to this website I also have a blog that I keep primarily for my family to follow me while I travel for research but it can be entertaining as most of my travels include some sort of mishap (e.g., bag ripping in Spain or running for flights).

After spending 22 years in the Chicagoland area I moved to Athens, Ohio to get my Master’s degree. I spent two years living in the cozy town of Athens before moving on to Knoxville where I  lived from 2014-2018. In addition to getting excited about echinoderms and science I like to be outdoors! I spend a lot of time biking (cruising and mountain biking), hiking, swimming, and running. Knoxville is a great outdoor city especially since the winters are so mild! Coming from the Chicagoland area it’s practically fall here through the winter. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Climbing to the top of Chimney Tops in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

My current research focuses on eublastoids but I’m broadly interested in Paleozoic invertebrates. Eublastoids have been studied in great detail over the past two hundred years but there are still several careers worth of questions to be addressed. They lived for an incredibly long time and exhibited a broad range of anatomical forms! I use old data that was previously collected by other researchers and examine it with new technology and I also collect my own data through museum visits, field excursions, and imaging facilities. If you are interested in my research please look at the research page.

I spend a considerable amount of time participating in outreach events and working on a side project called Time Scavengers. Visit my outreach page, here, to learn more about my specific efforts in engaging the public. My friend and colleague had an idea to create this site last January as a way to explore climate change and evolution through the lens of paleontology. Fossils are an excellent way to explore change through time, migration, morphology, ontogeny, ocean patterns, climate shifts, environmental shifts, and so much more!

Mountain biking at Fire Mountain in Cherokee, North Carolina.