The Museum of Geology is pleased to welcome our newest legionary in our cohort of paleontologists (I’m going somewhere with the Roman theme). Kelsie Abrams arrived on September 14th to help us with our vertebrate prep backlog, maintain our prep lab, and train our numerous students and volunteers in the fine art of fossil preparation.
Kelsie grew up in Casper, Wyoming. Her love of fossils was fostered early by her grandfather. He would regularly take her into a field near her parents’ place to look for “dinosaur” fossils, which she later found out were remains of the cephalopod Baculites. While in Casper, Kelsie spent considerable time at the Tate Museum, acquiring preparation skills under the direction of J.P. Cavigelli.
Kelsie received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Salisbury University in Maryland. It was there that her passion for Roman history and archaeology developed. However, conducting studies in Roman history necessitated a move to Europe, and Kelsie became interested in the interactions between early North American humans and Pleistocene megafauna. From there, the barritus call of Mammuthus imperator was all it took to pull her over to paleontology.
Kelsie’s first prep job in Wyoming convinced her that an air conditioned lab was much more favorable than the 105 degree heat of the quarry. She found fossil preparation also appealed to her artistic, creative side. She brought her prep skills to Fort Hays State University for her Master’s work. There she supervised the prep lab, and under the advisement of Dr. Laura Wilson, conducted research on the microwear of Teleoceras fossiger, a Miocene rhino from Kansas.
Upon arriving at SD Mines, Kelsie faced a task akin to Emperor Hadrian’s first encounters with the Caledonians. Twenty-five years of extensive collection programs have produced an immense backlog of material needing preparation. Rather than building a wall, Kelsie has rallied her legions of students. With her volunteer centurion, Kenny Brown, she is systematically addressing the issue. She is currently working on a gorgeous specimen of the mosasaur Plioplatecarpus from the Niobrara Formation of South Dakota.
When I asked Kelsie what her favorite fossil is, she replied Allosaurus fragilis, because it was the first, and only, carnivorous dinosaur she helped excavate. She enthusiastically revealed a tattoo of an Allosaurus skeleton on her left forearm, next to the requisite initials “SPQR” on any Imperial solder.
Salve, Kelsie; we look forward to many successful campaigns and accomplishments!