Meet the Scientist: Ann MolineuxDr. Ann Molineux

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.

Dr. Ann Molineux identifying objects brought in by visitors to TMM's Identification DayMolineux 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. Dr. Ann Molineux and Judy Lang viewing specimens at the Non-vertebrate Paleontology LaboratoryIt 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.