The 2012 Bloggers

Daniel BartaDaniel Barta

I am from Helena, Mont., and am a senior in the earth sciences department at Montana State University. My time at MSU has allowed me to develop my emerging passions for paleontological research and public outreach. My research interests include the evolution, classification, and preservation of fossil eggs and eggshell. A 2010 National Science Foundation International Research Experience for Students research trip to China ignited my desire to study fossil eggs, as well as conduct further international research collaborations. I plan to attend graduate school at MSU in fall 2012 to pursue an M.S. in earth sciences, and ultimately hope to obtain a Ph.D. and be employed in a research, teaching, or curatorial position at a university or museum. I am an MSU Presidential
Scholar, and am also the recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious national scholarship for undergraduates studying science, math, and engineering. I enjoy fieldwork, travel, the outdoors, and spending time with good friends and good books.

Michael BustamanteMichael Bustamante

Hi, my name is Michael Bustamante. I am from Browning Mont., on the Blackfeet Reservation. I’ve always been fascinated by films and film making and plan to pursue a career in the film industry. I’ve always had an obsession with dinosaurs as a kid, so it’s no surprise that I am really excited to finally be able to live out an old childhood dream, digging for dinosaurs.

Heather DavisHeather Davis

I’m a geoscience major and I am just going into my senior year. I have two wonderful children and one sweet doggy, all of which give me tons of support and a reason to succeed. I was born and raised in a few small towns/cities in Alaska, and I love doing anything outdoors. Swimming in the ocean, hiking and rock climbing are some of my favorites. I love heights and I hope to one day learn how to hang glide. I have been a rock hound since I was very young, a trait, I believe my mother passed to me somewhere on the side of a mountain digging crystals. I have always felt at home when I get to “play in the dirt.”

Paul GermanoPaul Germano

Paul is an MSU student interested in paleontology, especially the study of dinosaurs and other ancient lifeforms. Some of his hobbies are cooking, hiking, reading and drawing. Paul is looking forward to this trip in China to gain some experience and to learn how paleontology works.

Christian HeckChristian Heck

I am a senior at Montana State University majoring in cell biology and neuroscience with hopes of studying dinosaur histology. I am originally from Monroe, Mich., and received a bachelor of arts degree in telecommunications from Michigan State University in 2008. I have volunteered during two summers for the Museum of the Rockies digging out in the Hell Creek Formation. Besides schoolwork, I spend most of my time working, and volunteering at the Museum of the Rockies’ Paleontology Lab and Histology Lab. I am also a marathon runner, hiker, book lover, and music lover.

Anita Moore-NallAnita Moore-Nall

I am an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe. I grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Mont. I received my first degrees from the Department of Earth Sciences, geology option and Department of Film and Television, photography option in 1984. I worked initially for the USGS on a fellowship I received when I graduated from MSU. I worked for the Mineral Hill Gold Mine in Jardine, Mont., while it was operating and then later for the forest service here in Bozeman at the supervisor’s office in the engineering department up until I had my son Tom, in1993. I had a daughter, Stella in 1997. I worked on raising my family and did some part time work in various jobs around the Bozeman area. I returned to work as a consultant exploration geologist in 2006, looking for gold in Romania, uranium in North Dakota and tellurium in various states and Mexico. I decided to pursue an advanced degree in geology in 2010 and started back to school at MSU in the spring of 2010. I am studying some abandoned uranium vanadium mines in the Pryor Mountains of Montana and the Little Mountain area of Wyoming. I hope to characterize the mode of mineralization and see if this is related to the lead and mercury contamination of the Bighorn River that flows through the Crow Reservation. I received the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Native American Graduate Fellowship in the fall of 2010 and recently was the recipient of a HOPA Mountain graduate fellowship. I love to nordic ski, bike and trail run when I have the opportunity.

Robert RaderRobert Rader

I am a geoscience major with a minor in fine arts at The University of Montana. This past semester I studied the effects of salt tectonics on the fluvial depositional style of the Chinle formation in Moab, Utah. In future research, I would like to study trace fossils and paleoenvironment. In my free time I enjoy mountain biking. I am a native of Kalispell.

Ian UnderwoodIan Underwood

My name is Ian Underwood. I grew up in San Rafael, Calif., which is just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I transferred to Montana Tech this last year to study geological engineering after working in the health care industry for four years. I am an amateur photographer, an avid outdoorsman and an Eagle Scout. This will be my first time travelling overseas as well as my first experience partaking in professional research.

Hannah WilsonHannah Wilson

I have been interested in this research experience ever since my first weekend at Montana State last August, when I saw a presentation about it at an honors weekend retreat. Being a freshman and unsure of what I wanted to study, I took a dinosaurs class and began egg research with Dr. Jackson during the fall semester. While my career plans are focused on law, communication, and policy, I really value an interdisciplinary education and I hope to concentrate my research in the earth sciences and paleontology and to participate in undergraduate research in some capacity every year during my time here at MSU. I’m grateful to Frankie Jackson and Dave Varricchio for this opportunity, as well as the Honors Program and the MSU Vice President for Research Internship for funding my research experiences and supporting me in expanding my academic horizons. In my spare time, I ride on the MSU equestrian team, show horses locally, travel, attend live music shows and enjoy playing the alto saxophone in the MSU jazz ensemble. I am a native of Kalispell.

Faculty leaders:

David VarricchioDavid Varricchio David Varricchio

David Varricchio, who is supervising this year’s students in China, is associate professor in the earth sciences department at Montana State University in Bozeman. His doctoral research examined the taphonomy of dinosaur bonebeds in the Late Cretaceous of Montana, and he received his Ph.D. from Montana State University in 1995 under Jack Horner. His research continues to be largely field based and focused on the interface between biologic and geologic processes. By blending sedimentologic, taphonomic and anatomic data within a broader evolutionary context, this work addresses a variety of questions on dinosaur paleobiology. Past and ongoing research includes studies on the reproductive behavior of the theropod Troodon and its bearing on the evolution of avian reproduction, tyrannosaur stomach contents, herding and parenting behavior in a variety of dinosaurs, documenting modern taphonomic processes within the Yellowstone River of Montana, and recently, demonstrating burrowing behavior in the dinosaur Oryctodromeus. Current fieldwork includes localities in Montana, Idaho, Nevada and China. Originally from eastern Pennsylvania, David enjoys hiking and bird watching in and out of Montana.

Frankie JacksonFrankie Jackson

The study of fossil eggs, dinosaur reproductive biology and paleoecology, and the evolution of reproductive traits in birds represents the focus of my research. Fossil egg arrangement and microscopic study of eggshell structure (including calculation of water vapor conductance rates) provide important information on dinosaur reproductive biology and physiology. In addition, sedimentologic study of nesting horizons and assessment of diagenesis provide evidence for paleoenvironmental interpretation of Late Cretaceous nesting sites. Currently, my research focuses on modern archosaurian (crocodilians and birds) nesting sites in Florida and the Pacific northwest and fossil egg localities in the western United States, China, and Spain. Additional research includes taphonomy of a T. rex locality in eastern Montana and earth science education. In addition, I teach earth sciences to teachers on two Montana reservations.


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