Meet Evan Tamez-Galvan: the Jurassic Giants Project Fossil Preparator at the Museum

Evan will be attending the Girls & Science event on March 1

Evan Tamez-Galvan, the Jurassic Giants Project Fossil Preparator at the Museum (Photo/DMNS)

Evan Tamez-Galvan is the Jurassic Giants Project Fossil Preparator at the Museum. In other words, Evan is a fossil detective! She works with really old dinosaur bones from places like Wyoming and Colorado. Imagine these bones are hidden in a bunch of dirt, like buried treasure. Evan and her team use special tools to carefully clean off all the dirt so they can see the bones better. They also use special glue-like stuff to make sure the bones stay in good shape. After the bones are all cleaned up, Evan uses a special machine to take pictures of them from all sides, kind of like when you take a 3D photo. These pictures help us make cool computer models of the bones, so everyone can learn about dinosaurs and see them up close on the computer. Evan's work helps bring these ancient creatures back to life!

Evan will be attending our annual Girls & Science event at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on March 1. 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.

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Ahead of this year's Girls & Science event at the Museum, we asked Evan a few questions: 

When did you find your calling?

At an early age, I knew I wanted to work with dinosaurs. As I grew up, that dream became a determined goal, leading me to study geology and biology at Mercyhurst University, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in May 2021. In the fall of 2021, I became a lab intern at the Museum, learning the art of properly preparing and preserving fossils. Now, I work full-time alongside a fantastic team of volunteers and interns, bringing Jurassic sauropods from the Morrison Formation in Wyoming back to life.

What's your expertise in three words or less?

Mechanical preparation

Can you explain what you do at the Museum?

Sure! I get to work with long-necked dinosaur bones from Wyoming and Colorado. In our prep lab, we carefully remove all the dirt around the fossils using special tools, and then we use special materials to make sure the fossils stay safe and don't fall apart. Once we're done, we take pictures of the bones in 3D so that everyone can see what they look like on the computer.

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What led you to this role?

In college, I studied geology and biology because I wanted to understand deep geological time, how our Earth has changed, and the evolution of animals, including dinosaurs. While in college, I interned at Texas Through Time in Hillsboro, Texas, where I got my first experience in a prep lab and did some fieldwork. Later, I became a Denver Museum of Nature & Science fossil lab intern in 2021. I briefly left to work in South Dakota in 2022 and came back in 2023 to work on the exciting Jurassic Giants project.

Tell us about your current projects.

I'm currently involved in the Jurassic Giants Project, where we mechanically prepare long-necked dinosaur bones and create 3D scans of them. It's like giving these ancient creatures a new life on the computer!

What do you look forward to in your new Museum position or this specific event?

I'm really excited to inspire young girls to pursue careers in science and show them that they can do anything they set their minds to. Representation is super important, and I hope to be a role model for them in a field they might not think they belong in.

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

I believe that learning about the past is crucial for preparing for the future. Understanding our planet's history helps us make informed decisions to protect it.

What inspiring message do you have for young people interested in your field?

Follow your dreams and work hard for what you want, even if it seems impossible. You can do it, and as my parents always told me, "Sí, se puede!" (Yes, you can!).

Follow Evan on Instagram @jurassicgiantz!  

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