Follow Gabe on @paleoparadox for more paleontology and see him and the crew of @cosplayforscience for science outreach and education.
Q: What first drew you to science?
A: I was a nosy child, I had questions about everything. My parents tried their best, but they couldn’t answer everything. They took me to museums and let me watch shows like @BillNye the Science Guy and Magic School Bus. Science fiction also fueled my imagination, watching The Empire Strikes Back as a four year old I was curious about the biology of Tauntauns and how did lightsabers work?!
Q: What are you doing now, and what is the most enjoyable part of your job?
A: Today, I am a paleontologist and collections manager at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, Claremont, CA. It’s my job to take care of 200,000 fossil specimens. I also do some research, where my focus is fossil marine mammals, especially desmostylians, a weird, hippo-like animal! I would say teaching is the most enjoyable part of my job. Getting the chance to find new and fun ways to get people to enjoy science and make it accessible to all is awesome. Seeing people at events smile and say how cool something is just puts a giant smile on my face and makes it all worth it.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
A: A combination of two things, depression and imposter syndrome. Paleontology wasn’t always my career path. After graduating as a premed, things got bad, but I eventually found my passion in paleontology and education. A career change in my mid-twenties was probably the best decision of my life, but it didn’t cure everything. Managing my depression can be very tiring sometimes. Some days I just don’t have the energy to do anything which really affects my job and my research. Luckily, I have a great doctor and an amazing support group in my family, friends, and colleagues to help me.
Q: What are you hopeful of in the future?
A: My hope for the future is to see a world where critical thinking comes first. A world where science is not only appreciated, but understood by all. It might be sappy and little naïve, but I spend a lot of time in the dark, so I picture a world full of light.