Meet Andie Carrillo: the Zoology Preparator at the Museum

Andie will be attending our Gils & Science event on March 1

Andie Carrillo, the Zoology Preparator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (Photo/Rick Wicker)

Andrea "Andie" Carrillo manages the Museum’s Zoology Preparation Lab, where she dissects wild animals to preserve skins, skeletons, tissues, and other materials for storage in the Zoology collections. The materials she preserves will last hundreds of years in our collection for science and education. They will be used to answer research questions about wildlife and the natural world. Andie also trains new volunteers on vertebrate prep techniques and engages in outreach. The prep lab that Andie manages is well-stocked and ready for animals of all sizes.

Andie will be attending our Girls & Science event on March 1 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and she's excited to talk to other girls and children about careers in science. She hopes to inspire generations to come.

Girls & Science is a hands-on event that illuminates the myriad possibilities of future careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This event is dedicated to sparking a passion for science through interactive exploration and play. Girls & Science is committed to inspiring young girls by connecting them with female mentors in STEM fields, fostering curiosity and unveiling diverse opportunities within science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

We asked Andie a couple of questions:

What do you do at the Museum?

My job is to look at animals that are found in the wild and write down what I see. I look at their insides and outsides to give scientists the information they need to answer their questions about wildlife. The questions these animals help answer can tell us how the animals evolved, tell us how the animals are changing over time, and so much more. I also save the animals’ skins, skeletons and other parts so scientists can have even more information to answer their questions.

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Andie and volunteers in the Zoology Preparation Lab cleaning an owl skeleton. (Photo/Rick Wicker)

How did you prepare for this role?

My career path has been straightforward. I always knew I was interested in animals and I grew up going to museums like this in Southern California, where I grew up. In school, I took a lot of science classes. Then, I majored in Wildlife Biology at the University of California Davis.

While at Davis, I fell in love with working at the wildlife museum on campus – preparing the animals and getting to work hands-on with wild animals. This was not an experience I’d had at any other place. I started to seriously look for museum positions a few months before graduating college. I started my post-university career at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. I didn't have a science position there; I was a tour guide. But I also volunteered in their preparation lab, so I was gaining some more experience in what I wanted to do. A few months after I started that position, I found out about my current job. I knew I had to apply, and I got the job and started in 2018.

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 Andie teaching Teen Science Scholar interns how to pin bird wings. (Photo/ Rick Wicker)

What do you look forward to in Girls & Science?

Girls & Science is a fun time for staff in the Science Division to interact with our guests and the greater Denver community. We get to demystify science and share why we love what we do with a larger audience.

What are you most passionate about in your field or life?

I am most passionate about the animals I work with. I’m fortunate that my job allows me to work with animals closely and preserve their information for generations of future scientists. I’ve always had an appreciation for animals, but getting the chance to interact with wildlife daily is the most special part of my field.

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 Andie feeding a giraffe at the Denver Zoo (Photo/Martha MacMillan)

Anything inspiring that you can share with future generations?

Go for it. If you want to do it, don't let anyone stand in your way. You can be your self-motivation, and later find people who will support you. If you don't have support from your peers or your family, know that there are people out there like me and a bunch of scientists in the world who will support you, answer questions and help you pursue your science interests.

Favorite hobby:

I like playing video games with my friends when I have some downtime.

Last book you read for fun:

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Andie Carrillo's dedication to her work in the Zoology Prep Lab is evident in the meticulous preparation of specimens, ranging from hummingbirds to giraffes. Her role extends beyond the lab as she generously imparts her knowledge to new volunteers and actively participates in public outreach efforts. The well-equipped prep lab she manages ensures that specimens of all sizes are handled with care and precision. We invite guests to join us at our Girls and Science event on March 1 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where Andie will be sharing her passion for science and inspiring the next generation of scientists.

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