Amanda Adams, Graduate student, Geoscience
Discovers new fossil species
• Hometown: Long Lake, MN
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Christopher Brochu, Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Geoscience, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, May 2020
• Please describe your research: I study the diversity and evolutionary history of fossil long-snouted crocodylians in East Africa. This past summer I traveled to Kenya and Uganda to observe previously unpublished specimens. I use the morphology (shape) of these specimens to compare them to other known crocodylians to determine how they are related to one another. Several of the specimens included in my dissertation represent new species.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? These fossils will help us determine the relationships among modern long-snouted crocodylians and assess such things as the paleodiversity of the group, the timing of evolutionary adaptations such as salt tolerance, and historical patterns of geographical response to climate change. These were also among the largest predators our East African ancestors encountered, and crocodylians and early humans had to respond to the same environmental changes.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I began participating in research by my second semester at the University. I helped re-describe a species of fossil crocodile and worked with the fossil repository on campus to inventory and rehouse fossil collections.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being able to participate in research has allowed me to travel the world and make connections with people in my field. I have taken classes on methods that I may not have otherwise tried, allowing me to approach my own research in new ways. Understanding how research is conducted has also made me a better instructor.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I would like to continue educating the public about paleontology and what it can teach us. I hope to pursue a job as a University Instructor or something in Museum work where I will be able to encourage new young scientists.
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