|My Experience - Melisa Morales Garcia|
In August 2016, Melisa Morales Garcia won the prize for best poster at the 64th Symposium for Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, held at the University of Liverpool. She was competing with PhD students and established researchers, so this is a great achievement for a Masters student.
I am from Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico. I have a BSc in Biology from the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Hidalgo (Mexico), which I completed with honours. My undergraduate thesis was mainly related to the taxonomic characterisation of several specimens of mastodons (Mammut americanum) from the Late Cenozoic of central Mexico. This was achieved by an extensive and thorough description of cranial and postcranial elements, and by the comparison of the skeletal elements with those of gomphotheres and mammoths. Additionally, several palaeoecological aspects of the individuals, such as body size, diet, and habitat, were determined by means of morphometric and isotopic analyses. I have also worked with mammalian coprolites from the Late Pleistocene of central Mexico. I am currently studying for my MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol, where I hope to learn new methods of palaeontological interest and gain research experience.
Before coming to Bristol, I had research experience on two projects. First was my undergraduate thesis, on 'Taxonomic characterisation of the mastodons at the Paleontology Museum of the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Hidalgo', supervised by Dr Victor Manuel Bravo Cuevas. I was also project assistant on a research topic concerning 'The record of terrestrial ungulates during the Pleistocene of Hidalgo, Puebla and Tlaxcala, central Mexico: Interpretation of dietary habits and characterisation of terrestrial paleocommunities' (January-July 2014), sponsored by CONACyT, the Mexican scientific research funding agency.
I presented my work at the VIII Latin-American Meeting of Paleontology & XIII National Meeting of Paleontology in 2013 (poster on 'Variation of the occlusal area in the third molars of Rhynchotherium and Cuvieronius) and the II Symposium of Paleontology in Southeastern Mexico in 2014 (talk on 'Description of a specimen of Mammut americanum (Proboscidea, Mammutidae) from the Pliocene-Pleistocene of Santiago de Anaya, Hidalgo, Mexico').
I think the Birstol MSc in Palaeobiology is an outstanding programme that gives you strong theoretical and methodological bases for the study of palaeobiology. This MSc program has provided me with the necessary tools to be a successful researcher and science communicator.
I will be starting a PhD here in Bristol in September 2016, under the supervision of Emily Rayfield, Christine Janis, and Pam Gill. My research will be focused on the study of the functional and ecological diversity of several faunas of Mesozoic mammals by using a biomechanical approach.
Melisa Morales Garcia, August 2016.
Read more about Melisa on her personal web site here.