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Volunteering in the Division of Paleontology

The Division of Paleontology has many dedicated volunteers. If you're interested in volunteering for us, please visit the Volunteer Opportunities page on the AMNH public website.

Meet some of our volunteers...

Lester Bertan Susan Hewitt
Priscilla Blakemore Willow Lawson
Wayne Callahan Alice Lichtenstein
Dr. Mary Conway Peggy Pennell
Joseph Doherty Channing Redford
Dennis Farrell Marion Saves
Ellen Gales Linda Scalbom

Lester Bertan
Volunteer, Invertebrate Paleontology
Lester has a BEE degree from CCNY and a MS degree from Rutgers University. He was a founder and president of an electronic instrument company. He sold his company and retired in 1994. His wife had retired from teaching two years earlier and started to volunteer at the AMNH in the Education Department. Since she needed a ride in, Lester also volunteered. He initially worked on the Expedition Program, which was a specially designed, self-guided tour of 50 treasures of the AMNH. When that program ended, he worked for the Earth and Planetary Science Department, where he assisted in the fabrication of the Hall of Planet Earth. At the conclusion of that program, he became an Earth and Space Explainer, which he continues to this day. In 2001, he also joined the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology where he is currently working on the Digital Imaging Program for Fossil Invertebrates.
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Priscilla Blakemore
Volunteer, Invertebrate Paleontology
Priscilla has volunteered at the AMNH since September 2000 in both the Butterfly Vivarium and the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology. She has a B.A. from Carleton College and a M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University. Priscilla spent two years in Côte d’Ivoire with the Peace Corps from 1962-1964 and worked from 1968 to 2000 for the New York office of the American University in Cairo, assisting American faculty and student recruiting and in office management.Since 2000, Priscilla has also volunteered her time as a docent at the Central Park Zoo.
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Wayne 2013

Wayne Callahan
Volunteer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Wayne Callahan has been a volunteer in the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology since his retirement in February 2012. Wayne first became interested in fossils and dinosaurs when he was around 8 years old, and his parents took him to visit the American Museum of Natural History and bought him a copy of Roy Chapman Andrew’s All About Dinosaurs. At the age of 17 Wayne and his best friend found some fossil shells in the glacial drift of northern New Jersey, brought them to the Newark Museum, and began a lifelong interest in geology and paleontology.
Wayne’s career took him into manufacturing engineering and production management but he continued to pursue his interest in paleontology in the graduate program in geoscience at Montclair State College. Over the next 45 years he collected and studied fossils, collaborated on fieldtrip guides, scientific papers and abstracts. Wayne has been a Research Associate in paleontology at the New Jersey State Museum for over 25 years and is a member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.
When he is not involved in paleontology Wayne enjoys reading, astronomy, amateur radio, chess, guitar and spending time with his wife Suzanne, son Brian, daughter-in-law Emily and his 4 grandsons: Dylan, Jack Samuel and Liam. 
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Dr. Mary Conway 
Volunteer, Invertebrate Paleontology
Dr. Conway first volunteered at AMNH in the Malacology collection of the Department of Invertebrates from February 2005 to May 2006. Her work there included cataloging the wet collection and other specimens, and rehousing specimens. Mary began volunteering in The Department of Invertebrate Paleontology in June 2006. She catalogues and curates non-type specimens and has been involved in moving and organizing sections of the collection. Mary has a B.A. from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Berkeley. In real life, she worked for over 20 years with John Wiley & Sons, where her most recent post was an executive editor for life science advanced texts and references. Mary also worked for over 10 years with C&P Press, as executive editor for technical references and databases, both print and electronic.
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Joseph Doherty 
Volunteer, Invertebrate Paleontology
Joe has a degree in engineering and an M.S. from Long Island University. He began volunteering at the AMNH in 1999, after his retirement from Verizon. Joe works on data entry for the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology and also volunteers his time at the New York Botanical Garden.
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Dennis Farrell
Volunteer, Vertebrate Paleontology
"For thirty seven years I was on the staff of the Department of Radiation Oncology/Biology at New York Presbyterian's Columbia Campus.

I started in a world of switches and knobs and left when the world became keyboards and touch screens.

I made an application to the Volunteer Department of the AMNH and was most pleased at a wonderful world which opened up to me.

My first assignment was in the hydroponic garden and now I am extremely pleased in my "new home" in Vertebrate Paleontology. I realize that I am so very fortunate to have been able to associate myself with this great American landmark institution!"
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Ellen Gales
Volunteer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Ellen moved to New York from Melbourne, Australia in 2011, and on her first visit, promptly fell in love with the AMNH.  She has been volunteering in the Vertebrate Paleontology department since mid-2012, contributing to an inventory of the Fossil Amphibians, Reptiles and Birds collection, and developing a talent for labelling very small specimens.  She currently holds a BA in Classics and Archaeology and is pursuing further study in the hopes of one day working as a palaeontologist herself.
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Susan Hewitt 
Volunteer, Invertebrate Paleontology
Susan J. Hewitt is a naturalist in the British tradition. She has been on the volunteer staff at AMNH since the year 2000, spending seven years working in the malacology section of Invertebrate Zoology, where she was awarded Field Associate status from 2006 to 2008. When the malacology section became inactive in 2007, she moved to Invertebrate Paleontology so she could continue working with mollusks, in the fossil record. Susan previously had a position at the Harvard MCZ for 2 years in malacology, and taught a college seminar on mollusks at Yale. She has over 20 scientific publications, and is actively involved in field research in the Leeward Islands, West Indies. Susan is currently writing several papers on the marine mollusks of that area. She is also very active in WikiProject Gastropods, which is part of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Susan was born and grew up in Kent, England, just a few miles from Charles Darwin’s “Down House”, which she visited many times as a child. On one visit she was even allowed to play Darwin’s piano!
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Willow Lawson
Volunteer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Bio coming soon.
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Alice Lichtenstein
Volunteer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Having grown up in New York City, Alice visited the AMNH with her school and parents and as an adult has been to many special exhibits with her husband. 
She retired after working thirty years in research laboratories followed by ten years as an administrative assistant in a busy field office in a NYC park. 
Because she had worked in scientific institutions and had also interacted with the public in her administrative job, Alice thought she might volunteer at the AMNH. 
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Peggy Pennell
Volunteer, Osborn Library
At Radcliffe, where she met her husband Bill, Peggy majored in English, which she says, doesn’t prepare you for a career but does lead to an enjoyable life after college. They moved to New York City, and raised their two children in Brooklyn Heights. Peggy is a librarian by trade and by inclination, and for many years worked for the organization currently named JP Morgan Chase. Since retiring she has enjoyed volunteering at the New Lebanon (NY) Public Library, the American Museum of Natural History Osborn Library, and the Kendal on Hudson Library. She and Bill now divide their time between the home they built in Columbia County and their apartment at Kendal on Hudson, a retirement community in Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County. She is active in Old Chatham Quaker Meeting and she and her husband both enjoy the many benefits of New York City, including proximity to their two grandchildren. Currently Peggy is digitizing the Osborn Library catalog.
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Channing 2013

Channing Redford
Volunteer, Vertebrate Paleontology
A practicing architect and aspiring paleontologist, Channing Redford has enjoyed working in the Division of Paleontology since 2011. She has helped to survey the FARB collection and update the inventory, while occasionally re-housing old specimens or labeling new acquisitions. Assisting with the collection has been an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the evolution of species, specimen care and how AMNH scientists conduct and present their research.  A Fossil Explainer on the fourth floor since 2006, Channing has served also as an Explainer for exhibits such as “Traveling the Silk Road” and “Brain,” and for AMNH Sleepovers, Halloween parties and special events. 
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Marion Saves
Volunteer, Invertebrate Paleontology
Marion has a B.S. in Education from Hunter College, CUNY, an M.S. in reading Disabilities from City College, CUNY and an M.S. in Special Education from Hunter College, CUNY. She worked as an elementary school educator, specifically in the area of special education from 1974-1991.Marion began volunteering in the AMNH in 2000 where she worked in the Department of Invertebrates wetcollection – cleaning specimens and refilling jars of alcohol specimens. Later, she began working in the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology where she has had many responsibilities, including cleaning Gastropod and Brachiopod fossils. She currently works entering information about the non-type Brachiopod specimens in the database.
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Linda Scalbom
Volunteer, Invertebrate Paleontology
Linda has a BFA from the Art Institue of Chicago and worked for over 30 years in the fashion industry. She has volunteered at the AMNH since 1999, first as a Fossil Explainer on the 4th floor and now mainly as a tour guide for highlights tours, training sessions and special exhibitions. She also worked on research projects for the renovation of the Hall of Ocean Life and had the pleasure of making Ginko leaves and Stag Horn coral in the Exhibition department. Linda began volunteering in the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology around 2001, beginning by handling tiny little fossils and writing tiny little numbers on them (she says that her art training helped a lot!). She was also part of the volunteer team who worked on the digital imaging project for fossil invertebrate specimens. She later worked on the Type Collection of fossil invertebrates, doing data entry and making sure that the specimens were properly labeled and stored. Currently, Linda is working on the preservation of the Foram collection. Linda says that that she finds her volunteer work in Invertebrate Paleontology rewarding and fun and that it has added another dimension of valuable information to all her other volunteer jobs in the museum.
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