Sunday, November 20, 2016

Photogrammetry, a Don't Do This guide to 3D modelling

Photogrammetry is a technique that stitches together pictures into a 3D surface, which is quick and useful for paleontologists, and also really impressive to their parents (OMG IS THAT 3D? YOU WORK IN THE FUTURE AND THE PAST ALL AT ONCE YOU MAKE US SO PROUD).

One of the big advantages of photogrammetry over 3D scanners and microscribes is speed and information quantity: it takes Meaghan only 15-20 minutes to photograph a specimen at a museum, which makes her visits much shorter and saves her money. This has sped up her collection time so that she now has a dataset of hundreds of oreodonts and modern animals with which to do her dissertation - too much data, if you asked the rapidly-panicking grad student who saw all this work looming on the horizon last year.

One thing that Meaghan is chronically bad at is following any sort of verbal or written directions (worst navigator of all time), preferring instead to stumble blindly through making hundreds of her own mistakes. So since Meaghan is now an expert in "how to mess up Photogrammetry" we thought it was time to lay some of that knowledge onto you, dear readers.

Have you ever struggled to use the program Agisoft Photoscan to make 3D models of skulls? If so, you're part of a very niche group of nerds we here at the blog would like to address in a short segment we call "Dear Photoscan Princess," which is code for "Dear blogger who spent too much time in the basement at University of Oregon screaming at her computer," and also code for "Dear Meaghan." To save us time and effort, let's just stick with the last variant and answer a few questions that Meaghan made up for herself as a writing tool so she could write a blog post on how to suck less at using this program.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Meaghan's Tips for Taking Your Comprehensive or Qualifying Exams

In Meaghan's department, they're called comprehensive exams, or comps - in many others they're called qualifying exams or quals. These are mid-Ph.D. exams, and they are by far the most difficult and terrifying part of a Ph.D (except for trying to get a job after you're finished hahaha aaaaaaaaaaaaaah). Each department in each school does them differently, but essentially the gist is this: are you good enough to learn what you need to learn so that the department will ever feel confident in giving you a doctorate?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Love Letter to Zotero, and Other Helpful Graduation Tips

Meaghan recently completed her Ph.D. (FUCK YES SHE IS FREE SHE IS FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE) and Amy is working on her Masters, so we thought it was time to compile a list of things we are fantastically grateful for, even if these people/services/programs have no idea that we exist

Friday, September 16, 2016

Creepy Photos of White Dudes with Fossils

Amy spent lots of time going over the history of paleontology in Big Bend National Park as she worked there this summer as a paleo intern (more on that later). This mostly means she learned about all the old white dudes who found some giant pre-chicken bones out there a hundred years ago (blegh, dinosaurs). Occasionally the pictures of these old white dudes with fossils are not just irritatingly cliche but also incredibly, exceptionally creepy - which led to Amy frantically googling "old men with skeletons," which led to this blog post.

Who knew Nosferatu was a vampire AND a paleontologist!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Meaghan's New Career Goal: Sheep, Sheep, and More Sheep

So Meaghan just got married (more on that in a future post) to a lovely gentleman named Logan whose family owns a farm down in Roseburg, Oregon. And on that farm they have wine grapes and apple trees and coyotes and a surprising number of cougars, and most importantly... sheep.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Road Trip Sum-Up

A few months ago Meaghan and her fiance Logan went down to Texas to hang out and fossil
hunt with Amy. It was pretty great, and if Meaghan wasn't working real real hard on her dissertation and also job hunting, she'd totally have written about it before this moment. So we apologize for the 3 month delay, especially since she's now going to give a bunch of road-trip tips and the price of gas has started going back up so that kind of sucks for you.
Fieldwork never looked so fun

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The ONE day of Genitals: Jewelry-quality Spider Schlong

Hello everyone. You may have noticed that over the last two weeks Amy and Meaghan have shared zero stories about weird animal junk. We did not forget (okay, that's kinda a lie, we forgot a little) but more importantly our brains could not handle another year of diving through science literature for all the filth and smut of the animal kingdom. Eventually your mind numbs and then you're really in trouble when twelve different photos of animal dongs don't disturb you any more.

A series of photos will accurately describe the way we felt/feel about preparing for the 14 days of genitals.

Day 1: "Omg Amy, watch this video of this echidna dick, it's sooooo weird" "HAHAHAHA GROSS BUT COOL, MEAGHAN"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Awesome Dead Shit: Brontotheres

Normally when you see "bronto-" as a prefix it's safe to assume some stupid effing dinosaur shit is about to go down, but NOT TODAY SATAN.

"Bronto" simple means "thunder" and today we are not talking about some trivial thunder lizards, we are talking about the ten times cooler mammal version, the brontotheres. Also known as:
Amy's new indie band name (drawings by Ray Troll)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

An English Translation of Meaghan's First Paper

Meaghan is now officially a published author, but if you go and read her paper you will probably immediately reel back from the computer in confusion and horror. We don't blame you, as dental terminology is not for the faint of heart. So for those of you who are curious about the stuff that Meaghan writes about in a more professional sense, but don't have time to google what a posterolingual conule is, don't worry: we have a blog post for you!

The most basic description of what this paper is about is that  about 40 million years ago there was a species of oreodont that lived in Eastern Oregon. This species had claws, possibly for tree climbing, and it had a funny fat nose that made it look a little different from other oreodonts.

possibly it looked vaguely like this except for maybe more in the lines and less... ginger. yeah, prolly less ginger.