My name is Mariana Di Giacomo and I am a paleontologist and natural history conservator. Unconventional? Maybe, but also a lot of fun.
When I was 7 years old, the movie Jurassic Park premiered in my small country, Uruguay. Everyone in the world was amazed by such an innovative film, and merchandising was everywhere, including Montevideo. My grandmother started buying dinosaur magazines for my brother every week. I remember they came with a plastic part that glowed in the dark, and if you had all the parts, in the end, you would be able to put together a scary Tyrannosaurus rex. My brother loved the skeleton. The magazines? Not so much. But I did. I started reading them all and became obsessed. Yes, I know, another dinosaur-obsessed kid telling her parents she was going to become a paleontologist. However, I never outgrew the phase.
When I was working as a paleontologist at the amazing Arroyo del Vizcaíno site, I realized my future was in the care and preservation of fossils in museums. I want future fossil-obsessed kids to see the giant skeletons that made me fall in love with the discipline, and for that to happen, those bones have to last many, many years.
From 2014 to 2019 I did my Ph.D. at the University of Delaware, in the Preservation Studies Program. During that time, I was also a fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where I worked on my dissertation.
Nowadays I'm the Natural History Conservator at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT. If you had told the 7-year-old me she would be here now, she would have answered, “I know, I told you I wanted to be a paleontologist!”
Doing research on slide mounting media at the Smithsonian NHMH.
A drawing I made of Henry when I was 12 for a shcool project.