(It's OK, it's very small. not far away.)

(It’s OK, it’s very small. Not far away.)

Hello! Who are you, what’s your job title and what do you do all day?

Hello!   My  name  is  Franzi,  I  just  turned  28, and  I  was  born  and  raised  in  Berlin, Germany.  I’m   currently  a  2nd  year  Master  student  and  this  summer  I  will  get  my   M.Sc.   in Evolutionary  Biology,   Biodiversity  and  Ecology.

I  started  my  work  as  an  intern  in  the  Museum  für  Naturkunde  (Natural  History   Museum)  Berlin  after  a  gap  year  in  London  as  an  Au-­‐Pair.  I  was  pretty  much  the  only  non-­‐student  who   has  ever  interned  there,  to  my  knowledge!

 The  same  autumn  I  started  my  undergrad  degree  in  Geology.  I never  really  left  my  position  at  the  museum  during  my  academic  career,  and  now  I  am   currently  writing  my  Master  thesis  on  our  new  Tyrannosaurus  rex, Tristan.  I’ve  always  been  really  into  teeth  (my  favourite  things  to  find in field work),  so  my  Bachelor  thesis  and  my  Master  teethis  (see  what  I  did  there!)  were  all  about  the  upper  and  lower  jaw  of  dinosaurs.

I’m  currently  a  research  assistant  at  the  MfN  and  basically  look  at  CT  scans  of  Tristan’s  skull  all  day.   Because  this  is  such  a  complete  specimen  (the  skull  is  98%  complete),  I  want  pay  special  attention  to  poorly   studied  parts  of  the  jaw  and  because  our  T.  rex  also  shows  abnormalities.  I  have  gotten  a   new-­‐found  interest  in  Paleopathology.  It  is  very  likely  that  he/she  had  a  tumour!  How  cool  is  that?

Is your work office based? Medical based? Fieldwork based? A mixture?

A  mixture!  Right  now  I  usually  sit  more  in  the  office  and  work  with  medical  software  to   look  at  the  CT  scans,  but  I  was  lucky  enough  to do quite  a  lot  of  field  work  early  in  my  career.   In  2010,  I  was  chosen  to  join  the  Museum  of  the  Rockies  for  field  work  in  Montana.  I  fell  in  love  with  that   state  and  eventually  moved  there  for  a  year.  Last  summer  (2015)  the  MfN  took  me  back  there,  this  time  to   the  Hell  Creek  Formation  where  Tristan  was  found.

I  worked  at  the  Museum  für  Naturkunde  for  free  for  most  of  my  time  there.  I  started  in  January  2009.  I  am   currently  paid  to  work  on  the  Tristan  Project  as  a  student  assistant.   However,  I  also  work  at  the  Botanical  Garden  Herbarium  in  Berlin,  and  I  work  in  the  International  Office  of  my  university  where  I  supervise  exchange  students  and  organize   events.  So  yeah,  I  work  a  lot!

Field work in Montana

Field work in Montana

Is this what you wanted to do, or did it happen by accident? 

This  is  something  I  have  always  wanted  to  do  since  I  was  a  little  girl.  Palaeontology  has  always  been  my  primary  interest  and  I  still  sometimes  can’t  believe  I  am  actually   doing  it.   After  my  A-­‐levels,  I  took  a  year  off  to  move  to  London. I  lived  there  for  around  14  months  with  a  lovely  family  in  North  London  where  I  looked  after  a   little  girl.  I  never  wanted  to  work  with  kids  to  be  honest,  but  it  has  made  me  grow  up  a  lot.  I  didn’t  want  to   go  straight  to  university.  I  didn’t  feel  ready  to  dive  straight  into  academia,  so  I  joined  the  MfN  as  an  intern   and  it  just  progressed  from  there.

 I  am  the  only  academic  in my  family.  I’ve  been  the  first  one  to  live  abroad, and  the  first  one  to  go  to  college  and  university. My  family  has  never  been  suuuuper  into  what  I  am  doing.  They’re  proud  and  think  I’m  the  smartest  girl  alive,  but  they  don’t  really  understand  it!

My  boyfriend (@protohedgehog)  is  also  a  palaeontologist.  He’s  currently  finishing  up  his  PhD  at  Imperial  College,  so  we  are  both   extremely  busy.  It  is  very  nice  to  have  someone  who  knows  what  you  are  doing  though,  and  who  isn’t  rolling   their  eyes  when  you  talk  about  dinosaurs  (again)!

Is being a woman in your field unusual? What’s the gender balance like?

I  think  more  and  more  women  are  doing  vertebrate  palaeontology  now.  It  used  to  be  very  rare  to  actually   see  a  woman  around  (and  in  some  cases  it  still  is).  When  I  specialized  for  palaeo  during  my  undergrad   degree,  I  was  the  only  woman  there.  However,  I  have  always  preferred  to have women  as  my   mentors,  and  my  supervisor of  the  past  seven  years  is  a  woman.  I  actively  seek  out  other  palaeo  girls  on   Twitter  and  love  to  share  my  experiences  with  them.   I  would  say  there  are  still  many  more  men  in  this  field,  but  the  gender  balance  is  slowly  becoming  much   better.

Do you do any work to communicate your science to others?

I  frequently  do  outreach  at  the  MfN  and  my  university.  We  have  something  called  “Long  Night  of  Science“   and  also  “Long  Night  of  Museums“  in  Berlin,  where  twice  a  year,  the  institutions  are  open  to the public all  night.  I conduct special  tours,  and  I  recently  had  my  own  little  booth  where  I  taught   visitors  about  the  diet  of  dinosaurs  and  showed  them  different  kinds  of  teeth.

Because  I  am  pretty  active  on  Twitter  and  do  a  bit  of  SciComm,  the  British  Council  has  actually  now invited   me  to  apply  for  FameLab  2016  in  Germany.  I’ll  consider  it,  but  I  am  definitely  still  a  bit  too  shy  for  this  kind  of   stuff.   I  have  always  primarily  used  Twitter  to  communicate  with  people  and  share  things  I  find  interesting,  but   nothing  beats  the  personal  contact  with children  and  families  who  are  interested  in  science.  This  is  what  I  really  enjoy  and  social  media  cannot  really  compete  with  that  (for  me  personally).

I  don’t  have  a  blog,  but  I  might  start  one  if  I  get  a  PhD.  Just  to  document  my  journey  and  maybe  someday   look  at  it  and  think  “wow,  you  really  cried  a  lot  those  three  years”!     During  the  last  Society  of  Vertebrate  Paleontology  meeting  in  Dallas,  I  also  live  tweeted   for  the  PLOS  Paleo  Twitter  account.

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Tania Browne

Tania Browne

Tania Browne

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