Q1) Tell us a little bit about your volunteer role..
We undertake inventory of the collections in the stores by cataloguing specimens according to geological age and taxonomic designation.
We work on accession of unincorporated specimens and add them into the collections. We also photograph specimens for the database.
Q2) What were your reasons for wanting to volunteer?
I have 3 children and haven't been working since I had my 2nd child. I thought now was the time to get back to something I enjoyed as I had completed a PhD in Geology. I’ve always fancied working in a museum and adding to my CV but ultimately it was getting back to doing something that I was interested in again.
Q3) Why did you choose to volunteer at NMNI in particular?
There is nowhere else in NI with palaeontology collections. As well as this, I remember visiting the Ulster Museum as a child and this is really where I began to develop an interest in this subject, through looking at the many fossils and dinosaur bones. Two things I remember in particular are visiting the mummy and standing looking up at a T-Rex skull and thinking it was amazing that there was a dinosaur head up there. Being able to come back is fantastic.
Q4) What do you enjoy most about volunteering at NMNI?
It’s lovely to do something of interest and related to my PhD subject and it’s stimulating to talk to people with the same interests.
Volunteering with the collections allows me to refresh my own knowledge but I am also learning a lot.
Mike Simms (Volunteer Supervisor / Senior Curator of Natural Sciences) is a font of knowledge, stories and experiences.
Q5) What impact has volunteering had on you?
It has been a real reawakening of my interest in my specialist subject, to the extent that my PhD supervisor and I have been in contact and this year we have been working on a monograph publication, which volunteering has helped to kick start.
Q6) Have you gained or developed any new skills from your role?
It has definitely widened my palaeontological knowledge. It has also widened my geological knowledge of NI as I didn’t study here. I completed my undergrad in Edinburgh and my PhD in Galway.
Q7) What is next for you?
Continuing with this project. It is worthwhile and brings great satisfaction in every completed stage. I’m excited to move through the collections.