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The King of Dinosaurs

Research Areas & Projects

Please Note

The Kirtlandia Research Internship Program is open to undergraduates from all colleges; however, only those who can arrange summer housing in the greater Cleveland metropolitan area will find this program practicable. For more information, contact Ann S. DuFresne at (216) 231-4600, ext. 3243 or email


To begin, the intern will participate in four weeks of field investigations at a Late Archaic settlement in Lorain County, Ohio. The intern will learn the basic techniques of field investigation and data recording under the curator and field staff. During the following four weeks, the intern will work on Museum analysis of artifact collections from a northern Ohio site, as well as analysis of feature data and intra-site settlement patterns through the study of maps and site records. No previous field experience is required, but some experience in basic laboratory methods in archaeology is preferred, with proficiency in the use of Excel. The application should include a list of all relevant courses and previous fieldwork. The intern should possess good organizational skills and be able to work independently at times with minimal supervision.


The second year of inventory of some of the highest quality coastal wetlands along the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie. The student will be working with the curator, Presque Isle State Park college interns and the Museum Herbarium Coordinator to collect Vegetative Indices of Botanical Integrity (VIBI) within several Lake Erie wetlands from Presque Isle west to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Plots measuring 20 by 50 meters will be established within each marsh and all plant species in the plot will be identified. Percentage coverage of the dominant plants will be determined for each plot. The student will compare the VIBI data from the 2015 plots with the 2014 plot scores. The student should have a background in botany, and will learn how to identify wetland plants with dichotomous keys. Applicants should have the ability to work outdoors in wet environments for long periods of time, and have own transportation.

Invertebrate Paleontology (Geology)

Millstones are key geological components of material culture. Recent departmental investigations of millstones in Ohio have uncovered broad trends in the various igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks used in their manufacture. As part of this ongoing study, the student will assist in finding, mapping, and determining the rock types of additional historic millstones, as well as analyzing and synthesizing previous data. This project will require knowledge of paleontology, petrology, and basic Arc GIS, and will include work in libraries and archives as well as at sometimes remote field localities. Applicants should be comfortable doing fieldwork.

Invertebrate Zoology

An opportunity for students to gain critical experience in scientific illustration. The curator and staff are working on a number of taxonomic projects focused on praying mantis morphology, systematics and species description, all requiring illustrations for diagnostic purposes. The successful candidate will work with entomology staff and students on research projects destined for publication in scientific journals. Taxonomic revision projects will encompass full habitus illustrations, line work, and renderings of complex morphological features. The student should expect to produce multiple iterations of illustrations with accuracy as the central focus. S/he should also demonstrate attention to detail, work well with others, and respond well to constructive critique. Applicants should have previous training in biological scientific illustration, and those with skills in digital media are preferred.


Mapping of Glacial Boulders. Northeast Ohio features many glacial erratics: boulders which have been transported here by glacial action from various locations in Canada. In the field, the student will locate groups of large glacial boulders, and collect data on diameter, composition, latitude and longitude, and will sketch a map of each group’s geographic pattern. In the lab, the student will plot the size and composition data on histograms to determine statistical means and modes. Using the literature on Ohio’s Glacial History, the student will attempt to interpret the data and find dynamics of the glacier that brought the boulders here to northeastern Ohio from their Canadian sources. Applicants must have had a petrology class, be able to identify basic minerals and rocks in hand sample, and be able to hike at least 2 miles along stream beds and rough trails with equipment. Access to a car for traveling to various localities around northeastern Ohio required.


In this research internship, the student will help the curator and research associate in their research on dietary reconstructions of fossil animals. One of the most important determinants of an animal's ecological niche is its diet. Hoofed mammals are generally herbivorous, but their diets vary significantly. Many techniques have been developed to help to infer diet in fossil ungulates. The student will use enamel microwear (using a microscope to examine small features left on the teeth by food) and mesowear (assessing tooth cusp shape as a measure of the abrasiveness of the food eaten) to investigate the diets of Miocene ungulates. These dietary data will be used to help refine paleoecological reconstructions of the ancient habitats in which these extinct mammals were living.

Vertebrate Zoology

Participate in an ongoing mark (PIT tagging) and recapture (GPS locations) study of the movements, activity range, and population size of the mudpuppy in the Grand and Ashtabula Rivers. The student will capture and identify native fishes, amphibians and reptiles, and crayfishes while conducting stream surveys in northeastern counties and will also work in amphibian monitoring studies being conducted in at natural areas in several counties. The student should have a minimum of one previous course in vertebrate zoology and/or ecology. Applicants should have the physical strength to turn or help turn large rock slabs and work with large nets, as well as the ability to work in wet environments for long periods of time. Own transportation required.

Wildlife Resources

The student will be introduced to animal care and the basics of animal enrichment for the captive native wildlife maintained at the Perkins Wildlife Center, working closely with the Director of Wildlife Resources, the Managers of the Perkins Wildlife Center and the staff of Wildlife Specialists and Assistants. He/She will first become trained and conversant with Museum protocols for captive animal care and handling. The student will then design, implement and evaluate enrichment strategies for a particular animal or bird in the collection, with the goals of testing the effectiveness of these new strategies, as well as the current enrichment procedures. Applicants should list all relevant courses and any previous experience.