Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back from obscurity

<--New OU grad student!

Hello everyone! It's been about a month since my last post, but the lack of info is due largely in part to two things: busyness and movin' to the boonies. Dan and I have settled into our 2-bedroom house just outside the city limits of Athens, Ohio. It is teaming with flora and fauna (love it!) but has no internet connection and likely will not be connected for some time. No internet and no TV would have made Ashley go "something something", but a family visit this past week helped calm my restlessness. In one week, I will be starting my first course here at OU, the infamous but uber-interesting Anatomy Immersion. I have been told that, for one month, my life will be consumed with dissecting, reading about, and learning human anatomy. Why would a paleontologist be interested in studying human anatomy? Well, for two very good reasons.

The first reason is simple. Paleontologists, especially dinosaur paleobiologists, must know the anatomy of the animals they are studying in order to be able to constrain speculations about dinosaur locomotion, physiology, behavioral patterns, etc. Without an understanding of and vocabulary for the structures of the vertebrate body, paleontologists would not be able to conduct reliable experiments to test their hypotheses about dinosaurs nor would they be able to communicate the results of those studies to their peers. One can learn a great deal about the vertebrate body by studying human structures. That knowledge, because of the basically conservative nature of vertebrate anatomy, can then be applied to the study of dinosaurs. Not all structures are the same (or else we'd be dinosaurs!), but a great deal of crossover allows human anatomy to be a good teaching tool for both future doctors and future paleontologists.

Secondly, the job market for paleontologists is small. In order to make yourself marketable as well as knowledgeable, it is necessary to expand your skill set to include trade skills that are in high demand. By studying anatomy, paleontologists can pull double-duty as both paleo researchers and as medical instructors. Likely, when I finish at OU, I will be (hopefully) hired primarily for my skills as an anatomist with my research interests and skills in paleo being a bonus (/afterthought?).

Anyway, I'm jumping right in! Larry has been kind enough to add me to the OU WitmerLab website . No turning back now! :)


  1. Hi Ashley:

    Nice post -- and good advice for the paleo-aspirants out there. =) I have cross-posted your post to my blog.


  2. Congratulations. :)

    I'm subscribed to your feed now and I will add you to my blogroll when it gets back up.

    One recommendation, could you enable posting as name/URL? Thank you. :)


  3. I'm a bit late finding this blog LOL

    Hopefully, Anatomy Immersion (AI) was all it is rumored to be! I didn't receive proper anatomy training, and I regret it each and every work day. Lucky me, I have an anatomy expert at hand and (almost) at my beck and call.... you can read about that and the lessons I learned on the Palaeontologia Electronica blog.

    so, instead of a doctor, is AI sufficient?