Dakota Rowsey

I am an unabashed lover of animals; my passion for animal life has shaped my career from the very beginning. However, before I took my sophomore Vertebrate Natural History course at Pacific Lutheran University, which used natural history specimens to learn about vertebrate biodiversity, I didn't really have a concept of the function of of natural history collections - I had never even visited a museum before. I immediately fell in love with the new perspectives to study animals that these collections offered because I realized that there was a physical, tangible way to learn about wild animals as well as engage with the deep history of how this animal biodiversity has been studied by others.

As a graduate student, I learned more about the breadth of analytical techniques that could be used to answer questions at the intersection of disparate fields of study, pushed the boundary of our understanding about how entire clades of mammals interact over evolutionary time scales, and discovered my enjoyment of mentoring students. I had the opportunity to work with two excellent undergraduate students, including coauthoring a manuscript with undergraduate student Ryan Keenan. I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 2019 and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Field Museum in 2020 - much of which had to be completed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic - upon which time I began my position at ASU and now oversee the care and maintenance of ASU's vertebrate natural history collections.

When I'm not in the collections or out in the field, you can typically find me retrieving my stolen shoes from my two ferrets, engaging in nerdy hobbies like playing Dungeons and Dragons with my longstanding online friend group, or exploring the beautiful state of Arizona I call home.

The Vertebrate Collections Team

Are you interested in gaining lab skills and working as a part of an inclusive team of enthusiastic lovers of biodiversity? Send me an email!

Luisa Zamora Chavez

Capacity Enhancement Technician

Luisa Zamora is a first generation graduate of Arizona State University. She is currently working towards a graduate certificate in GIS while working at ASU’s Natural History Collections. She initially became fascinated by natural collections and museums after watching Night at the Museum and Jurassic Park when she was little. As the Capacity Enhancement at ASU’s Natural History Collections, she strives to facilitate the coexistence of the Collections and the NEON Biorepository through the restoration, maintenance, and organization of ASU’s fluid specimen collection. When she is not counting scales on a snake specimen or out in the field, Luisa can be found exploring new eateries and coffee shops, annoying her pets, or enjoying audiobooks and music.

Savage Hess

Graduate Student Curatorial Assistant

Savage Hess is a Master's student at ASU studying coyote viruses. Working within the biocollections has been an amazing experience for them due to the constant chance to grow and learn more about regional wildlife and the curation process. In their free time, they enjoy designing games and playing tabletop rpgs.

Alistair Bergstedt

Vertebrate Collections Volunteer

Caroline Schmidt

Vertebrate Collections Volunteer

Caroline Schmidt is a fictionist, poet, and Arizona native. As the Student Community Engagement Coordinator at Arizona State University, she serves the undergraduate community within the School of Art, building programming and leading recruitment and retention efforts. A graduate of Emory University and the Rutgers University-Newark MFA program, Caroline has received awards and fellowships from the Beinecke Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Bucknell University Stadler Center for Poetry. Her work has been published in Colorado Review, American Short Fiction, and Pigeon Pages, among others. At ASU's Natural History Collections, Caroline can often be found categorizing and labeling vertebrates specimens, taking notes for her writing, and admiring the goldfinch specimens whenever they're around.

Tyler Yocum

Vertebrate Collections Volunteer

Selected Collaborators

Vertebrate Collections Alumni

Iran Esquivel

Brennan Hays

Annessa Lyle

Anthony Motta

Kianna Rupp

Michael Vidaure

Riley Sasaki

Caitlyn Mosher

Adryan Moss