Meet the Scientist:
Born within a stones throw of the White Cliffs of Dover in England, Molineux was destined to become a geologist, although it took her awhile to realize it.
As an undergraduate studying geography at Girton College
in Cambridge University, she led a small expedition to the
Negev Desert in Israel to investigate desert farming. Fieldwork has always been a major
part of her life - charging around the Pennines in howling gales, sipping
malts on the Isle of Mull, evading the Israeli army in the Negev desert,
avoiding green mamba snakes in the Congo, diving among the underwater life
in the reefs of Jamaica and Belize, and numerous other field ventures in
the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Croatia, and Turkey.
However, much of her initial work revolved around maps, as an editor with
the Oxford University Press, a scientist with the Natural Environment
Research Council, and an assistant professor in geography departments of
the Universities of Syracuse and Boston.
During the late 1980ís Molineux decided to return to
the University and head
for her doctorate in geology. Although her dissertation was focused on paleoenvironments, especially those of the late Paleozoic, her training
encompassed many other aspects of geology including of paleontology,
stratigraphy, geochemistry, and isotopic analysis. Field work took her to
the 300 million year old rock outcrops of northern Texas, where she
studied the fossil fauna and also analyzed the sediments in which they
were found. Her faunal research focused on encrusting organisms, and she
described a new encrusting sponge, Incrustospongia meandrica. Her
interest in reef organisms conveniently allows her to move throughout much
of geologic time, and expand her interests to the weird clam-like organisms known as 'rudists'. Although abundant in the Texas seas of the Cretaceous, these fascinating animals became exinct about the same time as most of the dinosaurs.
Molineux joined the staff of the Texas Natural Science Center in early 1999, and
immediately focused her various skills on the daunting task of
reorganizing the Museumís massive non-vertebrate paleontological
collections into an accessible repository, while at the same time explore
new ways to educate the public using those collections. This effort has
included the development of computerized catalogues and inventories linked
to digital maps, acquisition of grants and new funding sources to further
develop certain portions of the collection. A grant from the National Science Foundation for the conservation and digital imaging of the Type collection was followed by a second grant to conserve several historic collections and make them more accessible for research and more intriguing for the general public. Equally important is
the creation of a vibrant group of students and volunteers whose work is
the backbone of progress.
It also involved the production of multimedia CDROMS and web pages, and the testing of 3-D scanning of selected
non-vertebrate fossil specimens using high resolution x-ray computed
tomography. Recent activity includes collaborative work to develop mobile applications for virtual field guides and the abiity to view fossil collection sites in their true geologic time-for example Google mapping 250 million years ago.
Since joining the Center Molineux has served on several graduate student research committees
within the Jackson School of Geosciences, has hosted other
universitiesí students and high school students as interns in the
collections, has taught several courses, is an advisor to the Paleontology Society of Austin, spent time as the treasurer and then president of the Austin Geological Society, served as a council member and continues as the webmaster for the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections. She has
presented and published her research to scholarly organizations, and
gives frequent talks to amateur organizations, numerous K-12 classes, and university sponsored programs. She
developed an endowment within the Jackson School of Geosciences for
curation of the Non-vertebrate collections. She acted as
co-chair with Robert Scott (Tulsa University) for the 7th
International Congress on Rudists hosted by the Jackson School of
Geosciences and the Texas Natural Science Center in 2005.
Honors include student fellowships, scholarships and research grants at Cambridge and the
University of Texas at Austin, the Best Poster Award (research) at the Geological
Society of Americas annual meeting (1992), the Outstanding Undergraduate teaching
award (UTGEO,1997), and the Staff Excellence Award of the University of Texas at Austin (2007).
She is a member of several professional organizations including the Paleontological Society, sthe Palaeontological Association,
the Geological Society of America, the Society for the Preservation of
Natural History Collections, the International Association for the Study
of Fossil Cnidaria and Porifera, and Sigma Xi.