Yes! Thea is quite the amazing person. She has so many talents in graphic design and marketing that are a huge asset to science communication. Being able to part of her project was really awesome. She originally came up with the idea after a conversation with another paleontologist, Ali Nabavizadeh. I found out about the project while meeting up with her again at the SVP welcome reception. I immediately fell in love with the “Paleontologists of Color” project and began spreading the word. As you could all tell from looking at her photos, Thea is an amazing photographer and did not do any kind of editing to the photos. She took photos of us that showed us.
During the photoshoot, it was really cool to see all the different people that showed up. SVP is working hard to better diversity and inclusion in its community, but, while I can’t speak for everyone, I still feel very much like a minority walking the halls at SVP. Being at the photoshoot with people who understood that feeling and just being around POC felt really comforting. Being a women and POC, Thea knows what struggles and barriers there are for people like us. The passion she showed during this project to portray the growing diversity of paleontologists was really inspiring and it made it a true honor to be a part it. I can’t thank her enough for creating this project.
This project is incredible and I am so grateful to Thea for shining a light on the diversity of the field, and to those featured in the portraits. The diversity of projects (along with the diversity of backgrounds!) is so cool to see. I’m especially struck by Thea’s sentence on the Picture a Paleontologist post: “These are the faces that should be in our documentaries, movies, and image searches.” Paleontology is so often white-washed, but it shouldn’t be. Paleontology, as Thea writes, spans the globe, and features connections between scientists of all nationalities and backgrounds. I wonder if this project could be expanded to the greater paleontological community, too, as amateur/avocational paleontologists contribute to paleontology all the time in meaningful ways. It’d be excellent to have a portrait gallery of diverse amateur paleontologists!