Published: March 14, 2017

Women in Science: Akiko Shinya, Fossil Preparator

Akiko Shinya, Chief Preparator, Negaunee Integrative Research Center

Akiko Shinya prepares vertebrate fossils for research, prospects and excavates fossils, conserves specimens, and works with volunteers and students in the lab. 

What has been your favorite part of the job, or a memorable moment?

All of it! I love what I did, do, and will do in the future! I particularly enjoy fieldwork, living under the stars with colleagues and discovering something new. The highlight so far is discovering my own dinosaur, Gualicho shinyae, in Patagonia. I'm going to Antarctica this year. I am super psyched about that!

[Edit: find out how Akiko's time in Antarctica went! She and Curator of Dinosaurs Pete Makovicky sat down to tell us all about it—from dinosaur digs to what to wear (bunny boots) and what to eat.] 

What advice do you have for future scientists?

Try it out. Try volunteering in a museum or in a university and see if you really enjoy it, because you will never know if you don't try it out. Becoming a volunteer as a fossil preparator at the ROM was the best thing I did for my career. I discovered that not only did I enjoy it a lot, but also that I was truly good at this work. Also, don't hesitate to ask for advice and help from people who are doing what you want to do. There are a lot of helpful and kind people out there!

Akiko Shinya
Chief Preparator

Akiko Shinya is the Field’s Chief Fossil Preparator. She prepares vertebrate fossils using mechanical, manual, and chemical methods, and manages three of the museum’s vertebrate fossil preparation labs. Akiko specializes in micro-preparation but prepares numerous specimens, including both macro and microvertebrate, invertebrate, and paleobotanical specimens. She has also prepared fossils and conducted fieldwork in various domestic and international localities, including North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Antarctica. Akiko also shares her knowledge by training volunteers, students, and other technicians.
Alongside many curators, associated researchers, and students, she and her team prepare a wide variety of specimens including dinosaurs, fish, birds, amphibians, mammals, synapsids, and marine reptiles. Her lab is always full of untouched ancient creatures from all over the world.