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Meet a Paleontologist

Cassi at the Grand Canyon Cassi Knight, a GeoCorps™ America Guest Scientist, enjoys working in the field at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, and looking for plant fossils like these Pteridosperms (seed ferns). Photo © GeoCorps™ America.


Cassi at a track way in the Grand Canyon Cassi spends most of her time looking for plant fossils, but Grand Canyon has many different types of fossils that can be found in each of the layers. These fossil track ways were made by Chelichnus, a reptile like mammal. Photo © GeoCorps™ America.

Cassi Knight

National Fossil Day Coordinator 2013

Employer: National Park Service, GeoCorps™ America

NFD Kid's Page Interview...

Please describe the types of work you do in paleontology.

I currently work as the National Fossil Day coordinator for this year, doing paleontology outreach and making sure that this year's National Fossil Day is really fun! I have also worked at Grand Canyon National Park, AZ as a GeoCorps Guest Scientist and at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, CO, as a GeoCorps GIP. For Grand Canyon, I spend a lot of time in the field trying to find historically reported fossil plant sites, and I did research describing how to identify leaf species from Florissant Fossil Beds based on the shape of each leaf. I love spending time in the field and travelling, and the awesome opportunity to go to Patagonia, Argentina and Australia for my Master's research.

Where did you go to school and what were some of your favorite classes that you took?

I went to Colby College, ME as an undergraduate, and then Penn State University as a graduate Student. I loved Paleobotany class, Paleobiology Conservation Seminar, Stratigraphy, and also an Insect Evolution class I took.

Briefly describe an experience that made you realize you wanted to be a paleontologist.

The first time I realized how incredible paleontology is was in my Earth History class that I took in college, before I had declared a geology major. It was a lab looking at different types of fossils and preservation, and the fossil that captivated me was a slab covered in several hundred million year old raindrop imprints. I had no idea that was even possible, and really made me wonder what else it was possible to find in rocks from past worlds.

What is your most memorable experience working with fossils?

I did my Masters Field Work in Patagonia, Argentina, and I remember there was one day we were collecting leaf fossils that was incredibly windy and cold. It was so windy that if you didn't hold the fossils well enough, they would blow out of your hands! The only thing that kept me from thinking about being cold was that every time I split open a rock, there would be the most beautiful leaf or flower fossil I had ever seen! I was completely enthralled. All day, I could hear everyone in the quarry at 30 second intervals say "woah, that's amazing".

Do you have any advice for aspiring paleontologists?

Do what you love. I graduated from Colby as a Geology Major, and had only taken one Paleontology class. But I loved it so much that I decided to go do a paleontology program in graduate school. I'm really glad I did, and I am so happy that I get to work as a Paleontologist!

NFD Kid's Page Paleontologist Interviews:

Cassi Knight  Roy Plotnick  Thomas Holtz  Sidney Ash  Joshua Samuels  Alan Titus  Vince Santucci  Josh Bonde 
Michelle Pinsdorf  Glenn W. Storrs  Rebecca Hunt-Foster  Arthur J. Boucot  Robert B. Blodgett  Greg McDonald  Eric Scott  Sally Shelton 
Hans Deitre-Sues  Jim Kirkland  Alton Dooley  Karen Chin  Erica Clites  Katie Loughney  Richard Kissel  Andrew Heckert 
John Repetski  Christy Visaggi  John Hoganson  Scott Foss  Bruce Schumacher  Scott Sampson  Greg Liggett  Jere Lipps 
Matthew Miller  David Brezinski  James Hagadorn  Kari Prassack  Tony Fiorillo  Mike Fracasso  Diana Boudreau  Phil Varela 
Mindy Householder  Andrew Milner  Don Prothero  Bill Parker  Kenshu Shimada  Jason Schein  Robyn Henderek 

Cassi Knight
Roy Plotnick
Thomas Holtz
Sidney Ash
Joshua Samuels
Alan Titus
Vincent Santucci
Josh Bonde
Michelle Pinsdorf
Glenn W. Storrs
Rebecca Hunt-Foster
Arthur J. Boucot
Robert B. Blodgett
Greg McDonald
Eric Scott
Sally Shelton
Hans Deitre-Sues
Jim Kirkland
Alton Dooley
Karen Chin
Erica Clites
Katie Loughney
Richard Kissel
Andrew Heckert
John Repetski
Christy Visaggi
John Hoganson
Scott Foss
Bruce Schumacher
Scott Sampson
Greg Liggett
Jere Lipps
Matthew Miller
David Brezinski
James Hagadorn
Kari Prassack
Tony Fiorillo
Mike Fracasso
Diana Boudreau
Phil Varela
Mindy Householder
Andrew Milner
Don Prothero
Bill Parker
Kenshu Shimada
Jason Schein
Robyn Henderek

Last updated: July 6, 2013