2022 Board of Director Candidates
Candidates for the Office of President (2022-2024)
Born in California into a career military family, with all the advantages and disadvantages of that life, my love of nature began early. Our next tour of duty to the wilds of Kodiak, Alaska, provided ample opportunity for a young boy and his dog to explore and wonder about the natural world. From age 6, that love has continued throughout life. At age 12, I was introduced to the world of fossils by a friend of the family on the fossil-rich beach near his summer cabin along the James River in Virginia. The locals there lined their sidewalks and gardens with Miocene whale vertebrae and had glass-topped coffee tables filled with thousands of shark teeth! The rest, as they say, is history.
College days were spent at the University of Nebraska earning a degree in Geology with minors in Zoology, Math, and Psychology, taking every paleo course they offered, and adding post-graduate courses in evolutionary biology and comparative anatomy. In 1978 I was offered a position on the field crew excavating a new and promising site with the dubious name “Poison Ivy Quarry” (later renamed, more appropriately, “Ashfall Fossil Beds”). The next 35 years were spent as preparator then chief preparator at the University of Nebraska State Museum. During that time, I served in various capacities with professional organizations such as the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (At-Large Board Member and Chair of the Awards Committee); Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (Chair of the Preparators Committee. Member, Chance Preparators Award Committee); AMMP (Charter Member. Host Committee Co-Chair. Election Committee member. Annual Meeting Committee member. Board Member. Treasurer.) Thanks to multiple workshops presented by Chris Collins, Gerry Fitzgerald, Rob Waller, Sally Shelton and others, my passion over the last 20 years has been to promote a conservation mind-set in preparators. AMMP is the perfect vehicle for this goal. But to achieve any goal, we must have strong leadership mindful of the following principles:
With your help, our goal to make AMMP an essential and enjoyable part of every preparator’s life can be achieved.
Matthew Brown began his career in fossil preparation 25 years ago as a volunteer at the University of Chicago, and subsequently worked for The Field Museum, Petrified Forest National Park, and The University of Texas at Austin. He has taught preparation formally and informally at The University of Texas, the National Museum of Natural History, and Cal State San Bernardino. Brown served as the first Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Preparators Professional Development Subcommittee Chair, and in 2008, he organized the first Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium at Petrified Forest, and steered the annual meetings for 10 years as they eventually morphed into the new Association of Materials and Methods in Paleontology. Brown also serves as the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections Representative to SVP, previously chaired the SPNHC Federal Collections Committee, cosponsored creation of the SVP Collections and Repository Committee, and serves on the Ghost Ranch Museums Board, and in 2011 was awarded the SVP Preparators Grant to develop the Essential Competencies for the Vertebrate Fossil Preparator. Currently, he is director of the Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Collections, and supervises modern and paleontological research collections and laboratory facilities, conducts research in laboratory methods, and writes about the history of paleontology, specifically fossil preparation and field work, and has raised more than $400,000 in support of collections endowments. Brown has a M.Sc. in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, and a certificate in non-profit management from The University of Texas at Austin Division of Continuing and Innovative Education. Brown also wrote the first draft of the AMMP bylaws, filed the articles of incorporation, established the bank accounts and shepherded the funds moved annually between FPCS meetings, and served in the role of past-president until the first board elected by the membership took over.
A long-time advocate of professional development for fossil preparators, I am interested in AMMP’s ability to support the individual museum professional through career advancement, as well as the organization's advancement of the career tracks traditionally viewed as “support staff.” AMMP has a role to play working alongside organizations like SVP and SPNHC, as well as building bridges to other communities of conservators and museum collections professionals. AMMP can and should be a voice for its members to advocate for support for training, better pay, and professional recognition in paleontology. AMMP has areas of historic strength, like our annual meetings and awards, where we must redouble our efforts to ensure their continuity, in addition to finding new avenues to grow and provide benefits to our members as we have capacity. An organization is only as strong as its membership, and I would work to encourage increased involvement from the members based on clear and consistent communication. Accountability is a team effort, and to that end I have nominated a slate of both well-established and emerging professionals to the other open board positions (Lisa Herzog, Jessica Barnett, Larkin McCormack, and Cory Redman), who all have a focus on managing AMMP from a solid foundation of non-profit business principles in the best interest of the membership and in accordance with the mission of the organization.
Candidates for the Office of Vice President (2022-2023)
Currently: Chief Preparator at Yale Peabody Museum, where my duties include supervising two term preparators working on specimens for the renovation of the museum, preparation for graduate students and curators, fieldwork, and MicroCT specimen mounting and scanning.
Previously: Preparator at the American Museum of Natural History where I worked on the renovation of the fossil halls, preparing everything from the smallest to the largest specimens (T. rex). After the renovation, I continued at the AMNH working on small mammals and Mongolian dinosaurs until moving to Yale.
Even with these many years of experience, I feel it is vital to remain open to new ideas and skills. AMMP meetings have always encouraged me in that endeavor.
I am a founding member of AMMP, the first Vice President/Acting President, and have been a continuous active member of AMMP, working with the Annual Meeting Committee (AMC) and as co-Chair of the AMC Abstracts Subcommittee. I have the dedication and experience to confront the tasks inherent to the position. I would like to see AMMP continue its basic mission of advancing paleontological research through education and advocacy for improved ethics, standards, and practices in field, laboratory, and analytical methods.
These are some of the changes that I would like to see the Board institute:
I think we as members want AMMP to do more, and to be inclusive of and relevant to all levels of experience, from novice to very experienced professional. As a solely volunteer organization, we rely on member participation to develop AMMP as a strong voice in the field of paleontology.
Lisa Herzog is the Paleontology Operations Manager at The NC Museum of Natural Sciences where she oversees specimen management and handling both in the lab and collections. Lisa holds a Master of Science degree in Biological Sciences from North Carolina State University and a Master of Arts in Sociology from DePaul University. She worked at The Field Museum for 16 years prior to moving to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in 2012. She is versed in the technical aspects of specimen preparation and the paleontological value of specimens as information and has over two decades of experience. She has prepared specimens from all over the world including multiple holotypes.Lisa sees the field of paleontology as an interconnected science, and considers all components to the process of research and discovery as essential. Working in a museum setting with responsibilities ranging from educational outreach, volunteer recruitment and training, as well as lab management has provided a clear understanding of the importance of passing this information along concisely and effectively. Lisa participates in the process from field collecting, to data management, fossil preparation, conservation, curation, measurement, analysis and presentation.
Lisa was a founding board member of AMMP. She assisted in the incorporation and set up of the Association and served as the first Secretary, then was elected President and served as Past President. During her tenure on the board she oversaw the implementation to its current online membership management platform with unanimous collaboration with the board. She also designed and created the first and current website and organized/hosted the third annual Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium and the first annual meeting that was officially held as an AMMP event.
As a member of AMMP, I am deeply committed to the mission and goals that inspired it’s founding. I am a strong advocate for advancement in the field of fossil preparation, and am invested in seeing AMMP succeed as an organization. I would like to cultivate increased involvement of the membership by collaborating with the other elected board members. At this time in the association’s development it is essential that a clear pathway is communicated to the membership and its constituent committees. I have accepted this nomination through conversations with a slate of both well-established and emerging professionals to the other open board positions (Matthew Brown, Jessica Barnett, Larkin McCormack, and Cory Redman), who all have a focus on managing AMMP from a solid foundation of non-profit business principles in the best interest of the membership and in accordance with the mission of the organization.
Candidates for the Office of Secretary (2022-2024)
Jessica has been preparing fossils since 2012, when she was an intern with the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, SD. Over the past decade she’s worked with small museums like the Sternberg Museum of Natural History and massive museums like the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Currently, she is working with the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and Petrified Forest National Park. She earned a B.S. in Geology in 2012 at Washington State University and an M.S. in Geosciences in 2017 at Fort Hays State University. Her research focused on training volunteer preparators in small museums. She is currently the Chair of the Communications Committee for AMMP. She was also a member of the student body organizations in high school and in college, as well as Secretary and President of the Geology Club during her undergraduate program.
I believe that the Association deserves a Board of Directors with sound management principles. My focus as a board member would be to stabilize annual meetings, emphasize honoring the members whose knowledge helped build the association, and recognize the work that each member has contributed to our incredible organization. Additionally, as Secretary, I would like to assemble a mentorship program within AMMP. I believe that much of my success and skill as a preparator occurred because of the people I worked alongside. I want the same opportunities to work with more experienced preparators available to people who might not otherwise have access to them. My priority is the ongoing education of preparators, a role particularly suited to the Secretary, who manages the Association’s membership. With a strong commitment to the members and a focus on building up the Association, I am confident that I can work alongside each of the Board’s members to help make AMMP stronger than ever.
Kayleigh is the Lab Manager and Preparator for the Museum and Geology at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD. Here, she manages the lab and its volunteers, prepares and conserves fossils, and teaches students and volunteers about fossil preparation and conservation.
She has a long history with SD Mines, receiving her B.S. in Geology (2017) and later her M.S. in Paleontology (2018). She served as the treasurer and later president of the Tech Paleontology Club and was a founding member and secretary of the geological honor society Sigma Gamma Epsilon – Theta Nu chapter. She started her position as Lab Manager and Preparator in 2018.
She also worked at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park in Royal, NE as an intern (2015) and at Badlands National Park in Interior, SD as a Geoscientist in the Park fossil preparator intern (2017).
Lastly, she’s been an active member of AMMP since 2018. Kayleigh chose to run for secretary to support the association and its members by providing excellence in documentation and communication. She has 3.5 years of experience documenting information, including meeting minutes, preparation records, and data related to her volunteers (i.e., contact information, hours worked, etc.). She is also capable of organizing information, ensuring tasks are completed fully and on-time, and fostering a safe and welcoming environment.
Candidates for the Office of Member-at-Large 1 (2022-2024)
Larkin’s first experience in paleontology was spending a month and a half prospecting for and excavating fossils with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. She then interned with the museum learning a variety of collections and preparation techniques. Subsequently, she worked seasonally for three summers at Petrified Forest National Park, and received excellent training and experience in preparing Triassic fossils from the Chinle Formation. She quickly realized that she loves this field, and went on to get her M.S. at University of Iowa. Her thesis described a new species of the crocodylianBorealosuchus. Following her M.S., she worked as the Paleontology Preparator at the Museum of Northern Arizona, focusing on repairing and rehousing significant fossils in their collections. Currently, she is working as an Environmental Planner and Paleontologist at Transcon Environmental, and is starting up a paleontology mitigation program at the company.
I feel lucky to have received excellent opportunities and mentorship in fossil preparation, research, and collection practices. AMMP is one of the few formal training opportunities for preparators and paleontology museum professionals. AMMP provides an important platform to continue advancement in this field, and to share new information and techniques. I’ve learned many skills that have helped my career at AMMP meetings, and I hope to become more involved in the organization and represent this community through serving as a Member-at-Large.
I am a Ph.D. candidate at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where I study dietary proxies, such as microwear and stable isotopes, and their application in the fossil record. Over the past eight years, I have been a graduate teaching assistant in charge of developing and delivering educational content for undergraduate laboratory students, field instructor in charge of teaching museum visitors the basics of paleontology and how to do basic preparation using hand tools, a paleontology monitor in charge of finding and recovering fossil material during active construction activities, and a crew member and crew leader of multiple paleontology inventory survey crews. These opportunities have allowed me to develop and hone my skills as a team member and a team leader, which is vital to serving in a leadership position in AMMP.
Over the past decade, I have had numerous opportunities to observe and serve on different Board of Directors for different organizations. The most recent was while working at a museum in Montana where I had the opportunity to be involved in the museum’s Board of Directors. I was a member of their Governance Committee in addition to being regularly invited to attend their monthly board meetings. Over the last five consecutive years of actively serving on AMMP’s Annual Meeting Committee, I have seen the steady progress in our organization with regards to the standardization of methods and the education and inclusion of individuals of all skill levels who are excited to learn preparatory techniques. I was recently given the opportunity to become involved in the Abstract Subcommittee as a co-chair beginning in the fall of 2021. This has given me the chance to see some of the inner workings of our organization and has provided me with the insight necessary to better serve our organization as a whole.
Being a researcher that relies on knowledge of preparation techniques being used and an aspiring curator, I find it vital to know and understand what practices should and should not be done in the preparation laboratory. I feel AMMP is meant to provide a means to openly discuss scientific principles and case studies in relation to materials and methods in paleontology as well as increase the standardization of laboratory practices. The reason I am running is that I feel AMMP has lost this focus and enthusiasm. I have been a continuously active member of the Annual Meeting Committee since I joined the organization in 2017. During this time, I have personally grown as a professional due to AMMP. I want to continue to serve this organization by bringing the voice of the membership to the Board of Directors and by increasing the involvement of all members in the organization. I feel that one of the best ways to accomplish this is to serve in the Member-at-Large 1 position.
In this position on the Board, I will push for increased communication between the Board and the membership, the Board and all AMMP committees, and for fostering an environment open to the education and mentorship of all new members. To accomplish these goals, I would like to:
Clear communication from the Board of Directors is vital for the success of any organization. When a board is actively engaging their membership by delegating tasks and brainstorming ideas directly from their electorate, the organization will thrive and grow. I feel that one of the best ways to develop the communication between the membership as a whole and the Board of Directors is to become involved and bring the voice of the membership to the Board via the Member-at-Large position.
Candidates for the Office of Member-at-Large 2 (2022-2023)
Christina Byrd is a vertebrate paleontologist with a passion for collections care and digitization. She received her Bachelor’s of Geology studying the taphonomy of Miocene whales and her Master’s of Biology studying the ontogeny of short-necked plesiosaurs. She learned fossil preparation during her college years while volunteering at the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History FossiLab. Following graduation, she collected along and prepared fossils from the Panama Canal as part of the Panama Canal Project internship. She began her collections career at the VMNH digitizing fossil insects for an NSF-funded project. Three years later, Christina started work at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History (FHSM) in Kansas. There she served as the Collections Manager for vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology as well as geology. She oversaw three grant-funded projects that spanned all three collections. Today, her duties at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology as Curatorial Associate of Vertebrate Paleontology allow her to focus on collections care, to develop workflows, and to test equipment and supplies for the advancement of curatorial practices.
Christina has been an active member of AMMP for 4 years. In 2019, she was a member of the meeting host committee when the AMMP meeting was hosted by FHSM and she has been a member of the AMMP Resources Committee for two years. She stays connected with the AMMP community outside of the meetings with her participation in the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Preparation Committee, where she serves as the Chair of the Resources Web Page Subcommittee and Co-Chair of the Collections Management Subcommittee. She also advocates for the inclusion of and participates in the addition of fossil preparation and conservation best practices in the Wiki of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections through her membership in their Best Practices Committee.
Christina’s passion for natural history collections, conservation, digitization, and desire to educate the next generation of museum professionals aligns well with AMMP’s mission. With her past experiences as a committee chair and a manager of curatorial staff, she understands the importance of listening and clear communication. As Member-at-Large 2, she will gladly work in collaboration with the AMMP Board of Directors and accurately represent the interests and values of the AMMP membership during Association business. She looks forward to serving the needs of the Association in whichever tasks the AMMP leadership may require of her and provide support to the AMMP membership whenever needed.
Cory M. Redman is the Science Curator at the Grand Rapids Public Museum in Michigan. He has two decades of experience working with paleontology resources at museums, universities, state and federal institutions, and as a consultant. This includes field collection, preparation, collection management, and exhibits. Field work is what drew him to the natural sciences.
AMMP has been an important resource for developing my knowledge of the long-term care and curation of paleontological resources. I would like to help the organization continue to grow and improve so it can be a reliable resource in the future.