Hello everyone! I am one of the new interns invading the Virginia Museum of Natural History this summer. My name is Madison Pullis and I can be found in the Paleontology lab most days. I am from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and just graduated from Iowa State University this past May. I majored in Anthropology, and minored in Environmental Studies and Sociology. I have some experience within anthropology – last summer I spent time in Costa Rica studying howler monkeys and I’ve also helped Dr. Matt Hill, an archaeologist at Iowa State studying the late Pleistocene/early Holocene time period (to put it simply), with research on extinct peccaries from Peccary Cave in Indiana.
You may be asking yourself how an anthropology major from Iowa ended up at the museum in Virginia, so I’ll tell you! A friend sent me an email about internships from the National Parks Service and the National Council for Preservation Education, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to try something a little different from, but still related to, what I’ve studied up to this point (because who wouldn’t want to work with dinosaur bones??). I ended up applying for the intern position in the Paleontology Department at the museum, and, fast forward a few months, here I am! Because I’m an intern through the National Parks Service, my funding to be here is from the Bureau of Land Management and means I work with fossils that have been recovered from federal land.
I’ve been working on getting these sauropod vertebrae ready for display over the last couple of weeks. The vertebrae were found in Wyoming in 2001 and are in great condition for being millions of years old! Similar to those, I’ve also been finishing up the cleaning of a sauropod toe bone that students at Lynchburg College started. I joined Alex, Lucy, and Aryanna on a trip to the Fossil Fair held in Aurora, North Carolina a few weeks ago where we spoke with visitors about dinosaurs, Lucy and Aryanna’s fossil insects, and Dino Days. Throughout the rest of my time here, I will be finishing up the projects I’ve started, learn as much as I can about paleontology and museum work, (hopefully) check out a dig, and help everyone get ready for Dino Days in July!