We have an active Vertebrate Paleontology Volunteer Program at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. We are looking to expand! Volunteers assist paleontology faculty, staff and graduate students on paleontological research projects. The volunteer program is a part of the Anatomy and Vertebrate Paleontology Track at OSU-CHS, with paleontological research spanning from fossil bone microstructure to big-picture investigations of ancient biodiversity patterns and changes. Volunteers are essential in helping us collect the data we need to answer questions about Earth’s ancient past.
Vertebrate paleontology volunteers are currently collecting data to help address scientific questions about ancient ecosystem compositions, ecosystem response to climate change, effective sampling techniques, and geographic distributions of extinct species.
Current volunteer activities include recovering bones and teeth from small animals (lizards, gophers, fish, mice etc.) from screen-washed sand & gravel and molding & casting small teeth for imaging by a scanning electron microscope. We are also working on the installation of facilities for large fossil preparation, which will allow volunteers to help mechanically clean and prepare fossil bones from large animals, including turtles and dinosaurs. Other new projects are expected to become available for volunteer work within the next year.
Once a month, we hold a potluck dinner all of our volunteers and their family & friends, as well as the paleontology faculty, graduate students, and staff. These are causal social events where everyone can get to know each other outside of the lab. Each potluck, one of the paleontologists gives a short presentation over a current research project. These events are a great way for us to give back to our volunteers and keep everyone abreast of the current state of paleontology research at OSU-CHS.
We have openings for new volunteers! Our volunteer days in the vertebrate paleontology labs are Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays throughout the year. Typically, volunteers work either a morning (9am to Noon) or afternoon shift (1pm to 5pm), but are welcome to work multiple shifts. Start and end times for shifts are flexible to fit volunteer schedules. Volunteers are provided training for research projects, as well as laboratory safety training. Also check out our volunteer FAQ below.
Contact our Volunteer Coordinator to set up an interview or to find out more!
“Every time I come here I learn something new.” – Marshall M. (VP Volunteer since Aug. 2012)
Q: I don’t know anything about rocks or fossils, can I still volunteer?
A: Yes. Many of our volunteers come from a non-science background. We provide all the training you need to identify fossils from rocks.
Q: I’ve never used a microscope before, will that be a problem?
A: Not at all. We will train you how to use the microscopes and other equipment in the lab.
Q: Can I volunteer on Mondays or Tuesdays?
A: Unfortunately no. The labs are only open for volunteers on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.