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Mar 28

Meet the Team: Susan Cahill

Posted on March 28, 2018 at 2:52 PM by Bonnie Man

susan cahillIf you’ve been to a Saturday Open House at Dinosaur Park, you probably met Susan Cahill during one of her enthusiastic and informative orientation talks. Susan has been volunteering at Dinosaur Park since it opened in October 2009, and has become an indispensable part of the outreach team.

Susan’s interest in antiquity arose during her childhood in Greece, and continued throughout her life. Having worked as a science writer for the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, she brings to Dinosaur Park an instinct for communicating complicated ideas in creative ways.

“I still get a thrill every time I go to the site,” Susan says, emphasizing how much she has learned about geology and paleontology from her colleagues at the Park. While she had not had much experience searching for fossils before she starting volunteering, Susan soon developed an eye for the tell-tale colors and textures of ancient bones hidden among the clay and ironstone. Shortly after joining the team, she took what appeared to be an oddly-shaped rock home for a closer look. Only then did she discover that it was the other half of a partial dinosaur claw another volunteer had found months earlier. This was an important moment, Susan recalls, because it showed her that at a site like Dinosaur Park, everything you pick up is an important clue about the ecosystem that existed here millions of years ago. Or as she phrases it for visitors, “every rock tells a story.”

For Susan, the most important aspect of Dinosaur Park is its role in the community.

“It’s a big mixing bowl”, she says. “People of all ages and backgrounds come here, all so excited to learn.” She is happy that the children of Prince George’s County have an opportunity to explore a real fossil site, and discover that they can be scientists. As Susan explains, the process of looking for clues and drawing conclusions is generally intuitive, and does not necessarily require specialized knowledge. The most rewarding experience for her is when a visitor discovers that they don’t need to ask the experts what something is – they can figure out the answer themselves.