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Dr. Maria A. Gandolfo

Principal Investigator

I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My family took long car trips all over the country and it was during those trips that I developed my interest for the outdoors and I learned of the freedom of working “outside an office”. I received my B.S. and M.Sc. degree in Ecology and Systematics from Universidad CAECE, a small private school. I had a fascinating Botany professor that woke up my interest in that discipline; for my M.Sc. I described a fossil angiosperm from the Laguna del Hunco paleoflora, Chubut, Patagonia.
Before completing my master thesis, I did field work in the Salamanca Formation, Patagonia and that was it, I was completely captivated with the possibility of spending time collecting fossils and be in the outdoors for extensive periods of time. I finished my PhD in Biology at the Universidad de Buenos Aires with two major components, Paleobotany and Geology.
For my Ph.D. thesis, I worked with the fossil and extant species of the genus Nothofagus. I did post-doctoral work at Cornell University with Drs. William Crepet and Kevin Nixon. We work on describing charcoalified fossil flowers from one of the most diverse Turonian (around 98 Ma old) floras found today.

My CV

Organizations I'm active in:
Plantsystemstics.org, Cladistics, American Philosophical Society, Fulbright, National Science Foundation, Botanical Society of America, Asociación Paleontológica Argentina, Museum Paleontológico Edigio Feruglio, Geological Society of America, Palaeontological Society, American Society of Plant Taxonomists.

Jennifer Svitko, M.S.

Lab technician

I was born and grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania. This area is known for its incredible Carboniferous beds rich in plant fossil remains. So, it is quite usual to find fossil while taking a stroll through the woods near old mines.  While I had always been interested in general geology, these chance encounters with fossils sparked my interest in paleontology.  Eventually, I went to California University of Pennsylvania majoring in geology, there I received my BS degree in 1990.  That same year, I went on to get my M.S. with concentration in micropaleontology at Bowling Green State University. Finally, I defended my work on Pennsylvanian Age ostracodes of the family Bairdiidae in 1992.  While working on my thesis, I did a lot of work at the university Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) center for photographing my ostracodes.  At that time I did not know that this training will be fundamental for finding a job.  I moved to Ithaca and I applied for a job working with Dr. William Crepet in 1993. A large portion of the position was SEM imaging of the charcoalified Turonian fossils flowers he and his colleagues were working on.  My other duties in the lab included preparing, sorting, imaging, data basing the fossils, safety training for new lab members, and assistance to visitors to the lab.  I was also responsible for the laboratory web page. For a while I worked at the Cornell Scanning Electron Microcopy Center where I did SEM and TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopy); when the facility closed I luckily got a new job working on molecular biology at the Bailey Hortorium with Dr. Jerry Davis. In 2010 I began working for Dr. Gandolfo on the Plant Ontology project. Although I have several responsibilities, the most important one is the imaging of the Cornell University Plant Anatomy Collection.  I am in charge of training new workers, webpage development; and also contribute to basic but fundamental tasks to the project, such as literature searches and developing techniques for anatomical/morphological work. I am also continuing my work with Dr. Crepet, where, in addition to my other duties, I have been making movies from CT scans done on the Turonian fossils.

Undergraduate work-study

Marantha Dawkins                       marantha