Presenting… Our new Collections Manager - Hilary Ketchum

A few weeks ago we welcomed a new member of staff, Dr Hilary Ketchum. She will be looking after all kinds of geological specimens, but especially the fossil vertebrate animals, including the dinosaurs. Here, Hilary presents some of her favourite things from behind the scenes in the Museum…so far. Hilary says, “I am very excited to be here. This has been my favourite museum since I first visited as an undergraduate, nearly 15 years ago.

Dendrites

Dendrites – this may look like a fossil plant but it is actually a form of mineral growth called a dendrite. This type of crystal growth can also be found in snowflakes.

Flipper of first plesiosaur

The first plesiosaur
Part of a flipper (right) from the first plesiosaur ever described scientifically. It was almost certainly collected by Mary Anning, one of the greatest fossil-hunters who ever lived.

Hilary says “I love my job as it’s so varied and I learn something new every day. One minute I can be answering enquiries from scientists, or finding specimens for a new display. The next I can be identifying fossils that a visitor found on holiday.”

Pyrite

Cubic pyrite crystals
This specimen (left) of “Fool’s Gold” is from Spain. “I find it amazing that something so straight and orderly can arise in nature,” says Hilary.

For her doctorate, Hilary researched a group of Jurassic sea-reptiles called plesiosaurs. Since then she has worked for the Natural History Museum in London and both the Sedgwick Museum and the Museum of Zoology in Cambridge. Although she spends most of the day behind the scenes in our store rooms she also loves being involved in activities and events.

Other features from our Presenting... series
William Burchell
Bruno Debattista’s horseshoe crab trace fossil
Fulgurites
Museum memories
A space traveller’s arrival
Alfred Russel Wallace
William Smith
The science of disguise

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