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Chris Ott

Undergraduate Research: Paleontology

Major(s): Senior in Geology/Political Science

Research area: Dinosaur paleontology

Career goals: graduate studies and research in vertebrate paleontology

"I am studying the remains of a Triceratops skeleton and reconstructing what happened during its preservation. I am interested in what the marks on the bones of this dinosaur tell me about its lifestyle. Dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years and we really don't know much about them. Every little scratch, every little mark on a bone gives us more insight into what these animals did. Working on them brings them back to life, in a way."

Why did you choose to pursue research?

I took an introductory Geology class as a first semester freshman. I visited the Geology museum and I thought this looks like fun--I want in on this. I can tell my grand kids about this someday!

Would your experience as an undergraduate have been different if you had not done research?

Yes, I wouldn't be doing Geology. What I am studying now is so radically different from what I originally thought I was going to school for. Doing research brought me into the department and got me interested in stuff that's really cool. It gave me a glimpse of what I'd be doing if I got paid to do this.

What have you accomplished in your research?

I will be presenting a poster at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology this fall and publishing some papers in journals. I have nearly completed reconstructions of Pteranodon and Tricertops and will be working on a senior thesis on sedimentology.