Staff Profiles

Anna Holden

PhD Student, Richard Gilder Graduate School
PhD Student, Richard Gilder Graduate School

Curriculum Vitae (short version)
  • Education

      • Ph.D. in Comparative Biology, Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History, Expected: September 2018.
      • M.A. Museum Studies (Harvard Extension School), Harvard University, 2006.
      • Nonprofit Management Courses (Harvard Extension School), Harvard University, 2006–2007
      • B.A. Combined Studies in Biology and Studio Arts, Hampshire College, 2000
      • Courses towards BA, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
  • Research Interests

    Research Interests

      The Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, one of the world’s richest and most important Ice Age fossil localities, is particularly celebrated for its extinct large mammal fauna, and bird collection. This locality's lesser known insect collection is equally vast. These fossils are comprised of original, asphalt-impregnated material; such three-dimensionality and rarely preserved structural details provide a means for securely identifying species. Many researchers have observed that virtually all Quaternary insects are identical to modern species, which has stimulated a resurgent interest in their systematics and use as paleoenvironmental indicators. The Rancho La Brea insect collection provide significant paleoenvironmental inferences when specimens can be confidently identified and certain entrapment events establish a clear provenance; their specific life-cycles, climate restrictions, and constraints to the local environs offer critical details to the changing landscape and climate in and around Rancho La Brea. Novel methods will be used to unlock the storehouse of data that such fossil insects can offer. Projects will focus on 1) Indicator insects and insect-plant interactions that offer rich paleoenvironmental data based on sufficient modern documentation of their life-cycles, climate restrictions, and distribution 2) Multiple radiocarbon and stable isotopic anlayses of insect material; while collagen dating of the bones of large mammals from Rancho La Brea has shed light on their diet, ecology, and taphonomy, insects are often superior paleoenvironmental indicators in terms of establishing precise data points for climate fluctuations and entrapment periods 3) The synthesis of data sets to establish the conditions prevailing in the vicinity of Rancho La Brea during the Late Pleistocene extinction event.

  • Publications