The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) –which boasts one of the most important fossil exhibits in the country—also houses a vast collection of unidentified New York State fossil specimens dating back as far as the Paleozoic Era.
In October 2012, QCC professor, Dr. Rituparna Bose, Biological Sciences and Geology, was named a Visiting Scientist at AMNH to help sort, identify and study the complex organisms.
“It is important to analyze the biodiversity of ancient fossils,” said Dr. Bose, whose work is funded by a Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Grant from AMNH and a Dunbar-Schubert Grant, awarded by Yale University.
Preston Baker, a second-year student majoring in Criminal Justice, took a Geology class with Dr. Bose and traveled to the AMNH several times during the fall 2012 semester to study fossil exhibits for his research paper.
“At first I wasn’t enthusiastic about the long trip into the City,” said Preston, who serves as President of the QCC Student Government Association (SGA). “But soon I was meeting students from all over CUNY as well as from other schools, at the museum—which was great.”
He added, “It was fascinating to learn about the history behind volcanoes and how scientists classify ancient rocks and minerals.”
Another QCC student, Hakjun Kim, who now studies neuroscience at Queens College, commented that the research ignited in him a “passion for culture” and that his experience at Queensborough helped prepare him to do well at a four-year school.
“The collections will serve as a platform for me to further engage students in biodiversity conservation projects. Dr. Bose plans to assign additional projects to students every semester to catalogue fossils, rocks and various minerals in the museum exhibits. This will build a database for the museum and also prepare students for possible careers in museum studies.
“These organisms were once abundant but have subsequently dwindled or become extinct,” added Dr. Bose, who serves as editor of several scholarly publications, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and SpringerBriefs in Earth Science. “This could help us to judiciously inspect the underlying causes behind loss of biodiversity today–a measure of life around us that we depend on for our basic necessities.”