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Meet a Paleontologist

Sally Shelton Sally Shelton

Sally Shelton

Associate Director, Museum of Geology

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

NFD Kid's Page Interview...

What is your job, and what do you study?

I am the associate director and the collections manager at the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. I studied Triassic vertebrates when I was in college, but now I get to work with all the fossils we have.

What are you working on now?

We have two big important collections: Cretaceous marine fossils from the Western Interior Seaway (mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, ammonites, and other oceanic and fish-eating animals) and White River Badlands mammals. We have lots of other fossils as well, but these two collections have some of the most important specimens from South Dakota.

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

I went to Texas A&M University to study wildlife biology because I was interested in vertebrate animals. hey had an option in museum science, which I loved. So I got a master's degree at Texas Tech University in museum science and did a thesis in Triassic paleontology, and worked on the fossil and mammal collections there. All of the museum classes and paleontology classes were wonderful, and I never wanted to do anything else once I took them. I also liked astronomy, English and the history of science.

Was there an experience you had that made you realize you wanted to be a paleontologist?

I can't remember a time when I wasn't fascinated by fossils. Growing up in the Texas Panhandle, I always went out on hikes with my family and looked for fossils every time.

What is your most memorable experience working with fossils?

Every time I see a fossil newly excavated, I realize that we are the first people who have ever seen this individual animal or plant, and that is a very powerful thought.

Do you have any advice for aspiring paleontologists?

Study everything that interests you, and volunteer in your local museum if that's where you want to be. That's how so many people get started.

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: June 12, 2013