Featured Students

Student Spotlight - Maya Juman

Our first Student Spotlight of the year is Maya Juman! Maya is a senior in Saybrook College studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She has spent the last three years working as a collections assistant in the Peabody paleontology divisions. The Peabody was one of the main reasons she was drawn to Yale, and she applied for the job before arriving on campus her first year. In high school, Maya did research on snake evolution at the American Museum of Natural History, but she had never worked with fossils until her time at the Peabody.


Maya reflected on her work in the collections and in photographing objects for the collections’ website, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at student work at the Peabody. Maya shared with us how “interacting with an object sparks wonder regardless of your age, and I doubt that feeling can ever be replaced. Digitizing specimens is crucial for sharing our collection with people across the world; that being said, there is something wonderful about visiting a museum or working at one.” 


When asked about her guided tours, which she leads in addition to her digitization work, Maya added: “I love interacting with the New Haven community. It’s very important for the Peabody to exist outside of the Yale bubble. In high school, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work at a natural history museum, which encouraged my interest in science. Having that tactile relationship with our objects (or even using our digital library) is a great chance for both Yale students and New Haven high schoolers to connect with natural history.”


We asked Maya about the role of the Peabody on campus. She noted: “Everyone here is so friendly. The Peabody staff really welcome student involvement. I think students are often intimidated by the idea of working at the museum, or they aren't even aware of it. But it’s such a unique resource! It’s one of the reasons I came to Yale. Not every college has natural history collections—and not only do we have a museum, we have over 13 million specimens! I highly encourage all Yale students interested in the museum to look out for employment opportunities, check out tours, and take lab classes that make hands-on use of our specimens.” Maya showed us a multitude of different specimens, including ammonites (lower right image) and an abundance of other fossils.


- Written by Natalie Boyer '21 and Lucy Duran Camacho '22, November 2019