Yale Peabody Museum Summer Internships

Digging Deeper: Showcasing the Untold Story of Fossil Vertebrates

Advisor: Vanessa R. Rhue (Collections Manager, YPM Division of Vertebrate Paleontology)


Lenth: 6-8 weeks in the summer


Project Description:

The Vertebrate Paleontology division at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History houses over 70,000 cataloged specimens of fossil sharks, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Over the past 150 years, many persons have been involved in building these world-renowned collections. Each person who touches the collection has the opportunity to add scientific value to these holdings by preserving and associating specimen data for posterity. In addition to maintaining the physical collection of fossils for research and display, the Vertebrate Paleontology division also maintains an archive of correspondence, reports, maps, and photographs that relate to the collecting history of individual fossils and historical figures.


As our museum embarks on a three-year renovation project, we have the opportunity to dig deeper into the archives and shed light on the relevance of our holdings. This internship invites an undergraduate student to highlight the untold story of specimens from our collections that will be on public display for the first time. The project goal is twofold: 1) write a featurette for our museum website that will highlight the backstory of specimens from different time periods, and 2) produce 3D models of the specimens using photogrammetry techniques so that the general public can visualize and engage with the material. The student will have access to museum archives, wherein they can research key historical figures and collecting events, as well as review scientific publications. The student is encouraged to interview collections staff to learn more about the roles of museum curators, collection managers, and preparators. As new information is surfaced, the student will learn how to contribute new data to specimen and locality records in our database, as well as digitize and associate pertinent archives to specimens or collecting events. The student will learn how to navigate the vertebrate fossil collection, including how specimens are arranged, handled, and labeled. The student will capture digital images for processing using photogrammetry software to render a 3D model. The model description will incorporate an abbreviated version of the specimen featurette, highlighting specimen, locality, and publication data.


Stipend: $2250-3000