Akiko Shinya

Akiko is the chief fossil preparator in the Museum. She manages three labs filled with fascinating ancient creatures from all over the world, and works with scientists, volunteers, students and interns everyday. Akiko loves preparing fossils and going out on fieldworks to hunt and dig fossils with her colleagues.

Akiko's primary role at the Field Museum is to prepare vertebrate fossils using mechanical, manual, and chemical methods, and supervises staff, volunteers and students while managing three vertebrate fossil preparation labs including McDonald's Fossil Preparation Lab.  Fossil preparation exposes a fossil by removing it from the surrounding matrix so that researchers can see the fossil's detail morphology. With many curators, associated researchers, and students studying variety of fossils, she and her team prepare a wide variety of specimens including dinosaurs, fish, birds, amphibians, mammals, synapsids, and marine reptiles.  A specimen's size can vary from a tiny amphibian jaw that is smaller than a finger tip to a large marine reptile skull that is larger than her (she is 5'1").  As a preparator, Akiko has a unique opportunity to see a specimen removed from its matrix first hand and her lab is always full of brand new ancient creatures from all over the world.  Akiko also spends a few weeks to months each year doing fieldwork to locate and unearth fossils.  She has done her fieldwork in the United States, Canada, Romania, China, Argentina, and Antarctica enjoyed wilderness and working with her colleagues.  She has also prepared multiple specimens and trained preparators internationally.  Akiko loves her work and will continue to explore, discover and unearth vertebrate fossils.Fossil preparation. Fossil prospecting and excavation.

Education and Work

University of Toronto, BSc in Geology.2001 - current  The Field Museum

2000 - 2001 Dr. Reisz Vertebrate Fossil Lab, University of Toronto

1999 - 2000 Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada


Hand crafted potato shooters.

Discovery of Gualicho shinyae.Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Member since 1999. Currently serving for Communication Committee, co-chair; Preparators' Committee, member; Preparators' Award Committee, member.

Research Sketch

While I was at University of Toronto, I was interested in how ankle joint bones in synapsids evolved.  Since becoming a fossil preparator, I occaionally write and present fossil preparation methods and techniques as well as conservation practices.