Introducing Eleanor Gardner, Project Coordinator

by Eleanor Gardner

Eleanor Gardner
Eleanor Gardner

I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the FOSSIL Project team, serving as coordinator for this exciting endeavor. I arrived at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the beginning of May and am still learning the ropes of my new position. I’m truly looking forward to working with the many different fossil clubs around the United States in the coming months and advancing the goals of the FOSSIL Project.

I come to Gainesville by way of rural West Tennessee, where I was a geology instructor at the University of Tennessee at Martin. During my time at UT-Martin, I taught introductory and environmental geology laboratory courses as well as summer lecture courses. (I mixed quite a bit of introductory paleontology into my summer lecture courses, since I am a vertebrate paleontologist at heart.) Each semester I organized field trips for the 200+ introductory physical geology students, and I co-led travel study courses that took the geology majors to localities around the northwestern hemisphere. Additionally, while at UT-Martin, I pursued research investigating avian and mammalian bone taphonomy (taphonomy being the study of what happens to the remains of organisms before, during, and after fossilization). Last but certainly not least, at UT-Martin I was able to expand upon my public outreach activities; along with my previous colleague, Dr. Michael Gibson, who is an invertebrate paleontologist, I was awarded an Outreach and Education grant from the Paleontological Society for 2013-2014 to design and carry out a field-based short course on taphonomy for middle and high school teachers in the region.

My educational background includes degrees in both biology and geology. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, where I focused upon evolutionary and developmental biology. My Master’s degree is in geology from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. There, I worked under supervision of Dr. Sally Walker on a modern (experimental) taphonomy project examining the roles of age and sex on bird bone weathering and the implications for preservation bias in the avian fossil record. I’ve had a variety of paleontological field experiences, ranging from excavating dinosaurs in Wyoming to documenting bird fossils in the Bahamas to collecting microfossils on an NSF cruise in the Atlantic Ocean to leading field excursions at the Coon Creek Formation type section (a Late Cretaceous Lagerstätte).

I am eager to hear from members of the professional and amateur paleontological communities as to how I can best serve them in my role of FOSSIL Project coordinator. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or call (352)-273-1936.

Eleanor examining delicate avian fossils preserved inside a limestone cave on Royal Island in the Bahamas.
Eleanor examining delicate avian fossils preserved inside a limestone cave on Royal Island in the Bahamas.

For further reading:

Gardner, E.E., & Walker, S.E. (2014). Preservation bias in the avian fossil record: a review and update. 10th North American Paleontological Convention, The Paleontological Society Special Publications, v. 13, p. 148.

Gardner, E.E., & Gibson, M.A. (2013). Subaerial bone weathering and degradation: a taphonomic field study about fossil preservation potential and the nature of scientific inquiry. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 45, no. 7, p. 794-795.

Gardner, E.E., & Walker, S.E. (2012). Modern avian bone taphonomy at the microscopic level: histomorphological and compositional analysis. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 44, no. 5, p. 66-67.