We kick off a new season

Friday, May 18, 2012 

This year’s student team members are (top row, from left) Ian Underwood, Michael Bustamante, Danny Barta, Robert Rader, Christian Heck, Paul Germano and Anita Moore-Nall. Bottom row, from left are Hannah Wilson and Heather Davis. (Photo by Christian Heck).

Our group first met two days ago during the first day of the pre­‐trip workshop. It is a bit of an unlikely group — there are film and media people, geoscientists, hydrologists, a history and economics major, and a few from Montana Indian reservations — but everyone seems to be getting along, and it looks as though our diverse skill sets will mesh very well with one another and help us perform good research. Our workshop consisted of talks from guests about Chinese language, history, and culture, about how to present ourselves and Montana State University while abroad, and a great barbecue hosted by Frankie and Bob Jackson during which we got to know each other a little better.

 A significant portion of the workshop was devoted toward getting a grip on what previous teams have done research on in China. This was important because it gave us a starting point for our own research projects. Danny Barta (a veteran of the 2010 trip) provided us with some background as well as a brainstorm of various ideas we could use to begin our projects. A few examples of past research include investigations about the crushing of eggs, the potentiality of “hatching windows” within eggs, egg orientation, and sedimentology interpretations.

Anita Moore-Nall (left) and Paul Germano observe the morphology of a fragment of dinosaur eggshell. (Photo by Christian Heck).

Robert Rader, left, and Ian Underwood examine ostrich eggs during the workshop for comparision to dinosaur eggs. (Photo by Christian Heck).


Dave Varricchio, the leader of the 2012 group, thinks that “while the past few years have been mainly focused on observations and exploration, this group has opportunities for answering final research problems and publishing manuscripts.” In a sense, this is the year that past work can be brought to fruition, and compiled in more formal and definitive formats that will be useful to other students and researchers.

 It has been a long day for the group already, having woken up around 4 a.m. to make it to the airport on time and flown on two airplanes. Everyone is sitting around the San Francisco airport waiting out our four-hour‐delayed flight to Shanghai. It will be weird to experience the 14­‐hour time change, because even though it feels like we’ll get there “late tonight” (today is Thursday), in reality it will be Friday evening when we get to Shanghai. It will feel as though we’ve skipped a day of our lives. But everyone is happy and is excited about this trip, and very grateful for the opportunity to learn and travel and to become better scientists in the process.

 Blog post by Hannah Wilson


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