Live Online Program With Four Paleontologists At Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Daniella Balassa (top left), Mattison Shreero (top right), Sunshyne Santos (bottom left), and Kristin Watmore (bottom right) will present their research virtually.

A special live online program from Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in western Nebraska on February 11 will feature four female paleontologists discussing their current research on fossilized mammals found in or near the national monument or Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

“A question we get a lot from visitors to Agate Fossil Beds is ‘are there excavations to watch,’” said Tera Lynn Gray, the park’s lead interpretive ranger. “While there may not be active dig sites for people to see, there is still a lot of important science coming out of the Fossil Hills.”

This special online event falls on International Women and Girls in Science Day. Established in 2015, this day supports full participation and equal access for females in all Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields.

“Paleontology is a field that was dominated by males when James H. Cook happened upon those fossils on his ranch here in Sioux County,” Gray said. “But now in 2024, Ms. [Kristin] Watmore is pleased to point out all her cohorts in the Cal Poly Pomona graduate program are females.” 

Listen to these women speak at the YouTube Premiere at  The videos are pre-recorded, 20-minute presentations with captions, audio-description, and interpreted into ASL. Each video will show at the top of each hour starting at 10 a.m. MST. During each recording, the scientists will be present on the chat to answer your questions about their work.

Speaker Bios:

Daniella Balassa is a paleontologist at PSOMAS, responsible for monitoring construction projects and handling CEQA documentation for her company. Daniella is currently completing her MA in Geology at California State University of Long Beach with a focus on North American Camelidae systematics. She also instructs Labs for University students and was recently the president and community outreach of the American Association of Petroleum Geologist Student Chapter club.

Mattison Shreero is a park ranger at Badlands National Park. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Mattison earned her Bachelor’s degrees in geology and studio art from Carleton College, Minnesota. While working in the Badlands, Mattison has discovered a love of fossil mammals and has since authored an upcoming publication, presented research at geology conferences, and learned fossil excavation and preparation techniques. She now plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Paleontology. 

Sunshyne Santos is a graduate student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. At the age of 15, she lost all vision in her right eye. She didn’t let that stop her and became the first generation in her family to go to college. She started her research at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, and now studies comparisons between ancient and modern rhinoceros.

Kristin Watmore is a graduate student at Cal Poly Pomona in Southern California, studying vertebrate paleontology with Dr. Donald Prothero. She earned her B.S. in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona in 2022 before beginning her graduate work in the geology department. She plans to defend her master’s thesis, which focuses on the systematics of an early group of pronghorns from the Miocene, this spring. Watmore has also collaborated on research relating to North American camelids, oreodonts, birds, and most recently, a whale. After completion of her thesis, Watmore hopes to continue research and graduate study in a PhD program. She is eager to share her current camelid research with the audience at Agate Fossil Beds and is grateful to present alongside some other women in science.

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