royal alberta museum
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Who's Who

Christopher N. Jass, Ph.D., Curator, Quaternary Palaeontology

Chris joined the Royal Alberta Museum as Curator of Quaternary Palaeontology in 2008. He received his M.S. in Quaternary Studies at Northern Arizona University and received his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007. He got his start in Palaeontology courtesy of an uncle, who took him traipsing around the Pierre Shale in South Dakota in search of Cretaceous ammonites. His dissertation research was based on fossils he excavated from a Pleistocene-age cave deposit in eastern Nevada. Other notable field experience includes assisting on research projects in Grand Canyon National Park (Pleistocene, Arizona), the Black Rock Desert (Miocene, Nevada), Oregon Caves National Monument (Pleistocene, Oregon), and the Chinle Formation (Triassic, Arizona). As a student, he worked in a variety of roles at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Prior to joining the staff at the Royal Alberta Museum, he was a scientific associate at the Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory-Texas Memorial Museum. Broadly speaking, his research interests include cave palaeontology, Quaternary palaeoecology, arvicoline rodent biochronology, mammalian biogeography, and land snails.

Publications

Christina I. Barron-Ortiz, Assistant Curator, Quaternary Palaeontology

Christina joined the Royal Alberta Museum in 2015. Her interest for Quaternary Palaeontology originated when she was in high school and she encountered the fossil remains of horses, mammoths, camels and other Ice Age mammals near to the city of Zacatecas, Mexico, where she grew up. She received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Calgary in 2016. Her research centers on understanding the ecology, palaeobiology, and systematics of late Cenozoic ungulate mammals across the breadth of their North American range, from Mexico to the Canadian High Arctic.

Christina also has a major role in maintaining and developing the Quaternary Palaeontology Collection at the Royal Alberta Museum. Fossil specimens in the collection not only preserve important anatomical information about the Ice Age fauna that lived in Alberta, but also represent archives of palaeoecological, palaeoclimatic, and palaeogenetic data. Using cutting-edge techniques and methods, Christina is helping to unlock the wealth of information preserved in skeletal tissues of Ice Age fossils. Those data ultimately provide a more complete picture of Alberta during the Ice Age.

Publications

Katherine Bramble, Regulatory Assistant, Quaternary Palaeontology

Katherine Bramble joined the Royal Alberta Museum in 2017. She is finishing up her MSc at the University of Alberta where her research focuses on hadrosaurs, the duckbill dinosaurs, and learning about how their teeth developed and interacted within their specialized dental apparatus called a dental battery. She is using a technique called histology, which involves cutting the fossils to create microscope slides, allowing her to look deep inside the teeth and jaw. Unlike the others in the Quaternary Palaeontology lab, she doesn't remember what sparked her interest in palaeontology as a kid, although Jurassic Park likely played a role.

Katherine accessions the fossil resources that come to the museum from historic resource (palaeontology) impact assessments that take place before construction begins on industrial sites. She also works directly with operators of gravel pits to facilitate recovery of fossils that may become exposed during normal operations. Katherine's goal is to further develop a positive, proactive working relationship between the Quaternary Palaeontology program and operators of industrial sites, as they are a valuable resource for uncovering Alberta's Quaternary fossils.

Former curatorial program staff members

Peter Milot, Assistant Curator of Quaternary Palaeontology (1987 - 2014)

As Assistant Curator, Peter's responsibilities included field collecting, identification, preservation and database collections management of fossil specimens for the Quaternary Palaeontology program. During his tenure, the program collected nearly 20,000 Pleistocene fossil specimens from the Mid-Wisconsinan non-glacial interval that constitute one of Canada's largest and best preserved collections of Ice Age fauna.

Peter also developed a wide range of knowledge and skill in mould making and casting techniques. His work is seen throughout the museum in artifact and specimen replications. He has constructed full scale fossil skeleton models of a Columbian mammoth, Giant bison and Giant short-faced bear for exhibition.

James A. Burns, Ph.D., Curator, Quaternary Palaeontology

(University of Toronto, 1984). Interests: biogeography and chronology of late Pleistocene fauna and flora in Alberta and North America; late Pleistocene glaciation, geomorphology (landforms), and chronology; timing of human entry into the New World, possibly through Alberta, from Siberia across the Bering Land Bridge; late Pleistocene faunas of Heilongjiang Province, Peoples' Republic of China, as analogues of contemporary Albertan faunas. Dr Jim Burns retired from the Royal Alberta Museum in 2006.

Publications