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How to Become a Paleobiologist

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by Caitlin MacKenzie
A few weeks ago, in the middle of a busy rush of lab work on a sediment core, I spent a morning curled up in a comfy chair with a giant mug of coffee. While snow fell outside my window, I was reminiscing about spring in the Maine mountains. It wasn’t exactly daydreaming — I was reading the proofs for a paper from one of my dissertation chapters, ‘Trails-as-transects: phenology monitoring across heterogeneous microclimates in Acadia National Park, Maine. ’ The open granite ridges of Acadia were a second home during my PhD. Today, my relationship with Acadia’s plants is a little different: instead of recording their fresh flowers in the field, I’m counting the grains of pollen they left behind thousands of years ago. Reading through the proofs for this paper brought me back to my biology and ecology roots — somewhere along the way toward my chosen career as a conservation biologist, I became an accidental paleoecologist.



An alpine masters and a ridge top PhD

I’ve wo…