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Department of Paleobiology

  • Michelle Pinsdorf
  • Research & Collections Assistant,
    Vertebrate Paleontology
  • Phone:   202-633-1356
  • Fax:   202-786-2832
  • E-mail Address:   PinsdorfMat SI dot edu
  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 121
    Washington, DC 20013-7012
  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th & Constitution NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0121


B.S. Geology State University of New York at Albany, 2004
M.S. Vertebrate Paleontology South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 2008

Research Interests and Responsibilities

My work as a fossil preparator involves the cleaning and preservation of specimens, so that they form a valuable pool of data for research now and into the far future. This includes preparing new discoveries for research, developing methods for preparing fossils, and the repair and restoration of specimens in need of care. I also mold and cast fossils so that reproductions can be shared with other institutions, or put on public display in lieu of a fragile original. Fossil preparation combines the physical aspect of manipulating and cleaning the specimens with the mental tasks of deciding which processes and materials are best to use for each fossil’s long-term benefit to science. Notes, sketches, and photographs taken as work is performed become an important part of a specimen’s data record, forming part of a chain of information as a specimen progresses from the field, to the lab, to the curated collections.


Pig Dig report or Tolstoy? Compiling a record of fifteen years of student activity at Conata Picnic Ground, Badlands National Park, South Dakota. 2008, 8th Conference on Fossil Resources, St. George Utah. Pagnac, D.; Benton, R.; Shelton, S.; Branchiforte, C.; Darbyshire, J.; Johnson, J.; Mead, J.; Miller, M.; Pinsdorf, M.; Sauter, M. Restoration and description of the first Tyrannosaurus rex skeletal material from South Dakota. 2006, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology Vol. 26(3).