Geology major gains scientific skills in paleontology internship 

Hudson Davis '24

After volunteering with the Burpee Museum of Natural History, Hudson Davis ’24, a geology major at The College of Wooster, knew he wanted to continue his work in the field of paleontology. As a field assistant, Davis travelled to Utah and Montana to dig up dinosaurs. Later, he moved to Rockford, Illinois to work in the Burpee Museum’s collections. Here, he worked as both a collections assistant, where he cataloged microfossils, and as an educator, where he taught children about paleontology and other life sciences. Because of his APEX Fellowship, Davis gained firsthand experience in a career field that has interested him for years. 

“This internship reaffirmed for me that paleontology is what I was put on this planet to do. More than anything, it helped me to become the scientist I have always wanted to be and illuminated my path forward.”

—Hudson Davis ’24

How did you learn about the internship opportunity for your APEX Fellowship?  

“It did not exist, so I talked to the Burpee Museum, who I had volunteered digging with during the summer of 2021, if they could create a position for me if I could acquire funding. APEX was able to do that, so Burpee created the position.” 

What interests you most about the work you did?  

“For the first trek of the internship, we dug up Jurassic dinosaurs outside Hanksville, Utah from about 150 million years ago. This included dinosaurs such as Allosaurus, Diplodocus and Stegosaurus. In addition to digging myself, I also educated our volunteers on how to properly excavate the dinosaurs. For the second trek of the internship, I moved to Rockford, Illinois to work in the museum. In the lab I organized and cataloged hundreds of microfossils from Hell Creek, as well as cleared and fixed fossils. As an educator, I taught a variety of kids’ camps on paleontology and other life sciences, as well as giving tours of both the museum and collections.” 

Who was your mentor and how did they help you to succeed in this position? 

“My mentor and the man who created this opportunity is paleontologist Josh Matthews. Josh is an incredible man who made sure that this summer was something truly special, ensuring that for this summer, I essentially was a paleontologist, doing everything a paleontologist at a museum does. He would walk me through how to do something so that I wouldn’t be over my head, and then step back so I could learn through doing. He also would go out of his way to support me, whether checking in on how my tasks were coming, or even letting me crash at his place for two weeks when my housing fell through. I could not have asked for a better mentor.” 

What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward in your career? 

“This summer, I became much more confident in my skills as a scientist, as I developed field skills and learned how to be an effective scientific communicator. More than anything, I feel this summer taught me how to think like a paleontologist.” 

How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you? 

“This internship reaffirmed for me that paleontology is what I was put on this planet to do. More than anything, it helped me to become the scientist I have always wanted to be and illuminated my path forward.” 

Hudson Davis '24

Posted in Experiential Learning on August 15, 2022.

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