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David Patterson

Where did you go to school?

Georgia College and State University (B.S. and M.S. in Biology)
George Washington University (Ph.D. Human Paleobiology)

What brought you to UNG?

Lots of things – the focus on undergraduate research, the great colleagues in the department, location (I love the outdoors), proximity to my family (McDonough, GA)

What do you research? What do your students do in your research? Why did you choose that field?

I am a paleobiologist interested in the relationship between environmental change and mammal evolution. Most of my research focuses on the last twenty thousand years in southeastern North America and the past two million years in Africa (eastern and southern). My students work on both fossil and modern mammals. They do isotopic analyses on teeth to determine what ancient mammals (e.g., antelopes, mammoths, giant bison) ate, but also use modern mammals (e.g., whitetail deer) as models for ancient organisms. My students also investigate how carnivores (like lions and wolves) process bones for insights on how this may have happened in the fossil record. Finally, my students do lots of fieldwork – particularly excavation of mammal fossils along the coast of Georgia.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Mentoring undergraduate research projects. I love taking an idea through the scientific progression to a published manuscript or conference presentation. Undergraduate research completely altered my trajectory as a student, so I like providing that opportunity to lots of students.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Balancing all of the things that I do and not letting some things slip through the cracks. It’s very easy for me to spread myself too thin…

What advice do you have for students?

Do what you love and enjoy, and everything will fall into place (eventually…). It may be challenging sometimes, but at the end of the day you’ll be much happier. If you end up like me, you don’t really feel like you’re working, which is really rewarding.

What is your favorite movie/genre?

The Rocky series – particularly Rocky 1 and 4.

 

Fossil excavations in coastal Georgia: the SCALE lab website

Excavation project

Excavation project

Here is a picture of Kayla Allen, Brenden Zeller and I collecting fossils in northern Kenya.

Here is a picture of Kayla Allen, Brenden Zeller and David Patterson collect fossils in northern Kenya.

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