Dr Gregory M. Erickson, Florida State University
Specialist in dinosaur paleobiology
1. What first got you interested or involved in your research field?
I liked dinosaurs when I was a kid but found other interests by the time I hit middle school. I was originally an engineering major and then a wildlife management major (my father was a large game biologist) at the University of Washington. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. During the summers I was a construction worker and was considering that for a career. My roomate was a geology major, and I realized that just by taking a few courses I could graduate and move on. I took a dinosaur class from John Rensberger. The course was inspired by Bob Bakker’s Dinosaur Heresies. John invited me on a dig. He encouraged me to consider a career in vert paleo. It was then that I realized my background in biology and engineering could provide for new insights in vert paleo. After a year or so of working in the miserable Seattle rain, I decided that I had had enough and decided to take the GRE and go to grad school. I was accepted into Jack Horner’s program. The rest is history.
2. What is your favourite piece of research?
I am most proud of the work I have done on dinosaur dentitions
3. What do you think is the most interesting or important discovery in your field in recent years?
The rediscovery that birds are dinosaurs.
4. What do you think is the biggest unanswered question in your field right now?
Hard to say. I think that if we could readily determine the sex of dinosaurs that it would have huge ramifications for our understanding of dinosaur paleobiology
5. What advice would you give to students about research?
Writing skills are critical for survivorship as a professional paleontologist. The pen is mightier than the pick.