Intern Lauren Wimbish

Lauren with Jars

Checking the fluid preserved mammal specimens.

Hi! My name is Lauren Wimbish and I am a Wildlife and Fisheries Science major at Texas A&M University. Part of my experience here at Texas A&M is having an internship. This past summer I worked as an intern at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections (BRTC). Although I have had multiple classes at the BRTC, such as Natural History of Vertebrates, Mammalogy and currently Ornithology, this past May was my first time working within the collections. For a good chunk of May and June, I spent a fair amount of time working in the mammal alcohol collection. These are fully intact specimens that are put into jars filled with alcohol to preserve them. The mammal collection has about 12,000 specimens preserved in alcohol and when I began my journey of organizing them I started on rodents. I primarily worked with different species of rats and mice and occasionally a gopher. There also are many other mammals in the collections besides rodents, such as bats, felines, and my favorite: a Pronghorn Antelope. My main task working in the mammal alcohol collection was to assess what was in each jar. I would get a jar and take out each specimen; some jars would have one or two specimens while others would have 20 or 30. I would take every specimen out of the jar and then essentially check to make sure it is where our records say it should be. If anything was off/missing, I would make a note for the curator so corrections could be made later.  The work was generally quiet and slow. So most days when I would come in I would put in my headphones and listen to some music while I would go into my own little place for a few hours. The cool part of doing this was getting to see all the little differences in the species.  Some of them have had large amounts of tissue samples taken from them, so not every specimen was perfect per se. Some of the internal organs were exposed in these not-so-perfect specimens. One of the coolest things I recall was being able to see the fetal offspring in some of the female rats. Not every day was as exciting as when I saw the fetal rats.  On days that were moving a little slow I would mix things up by working with the collection of bats we store in cases.

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