Caleb Bohus is a member of the first cohort of interns through the Illinois State Geological Survey's Paul Edwin Potter Internship Program. Bohus, a junior at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, has been working with principal paleontologist Joe Devera and the Smithsonian on a paleontological project.
"I am very excited to have Caleb work on this project which was waiting for someone just like him for quite some time," said Devera. "He is a perfect fit for this study – Caleb is intelligent, passionate, and a hard-working young man. Caleb will be a senior this fall and I intend for him to keep working on this project with my PI allotment into next year."
Caleb will be the lead author on an upcoming publication thanks to his considerable contributions to fieldwork which led to new discoveries this summer.
He recently answered some questions about his experiences as a Potter intern.
Describe, briefly, what you are doing during your Potter internship.
During my Potter internship, I have been conducting work studying Lower Carboniferous vertebrates. Fieldwork includes studying old localities and searching for new localities in the Buncombe Red Bed of the Cave Hill Member, Kinkaid Formation. The Cave Hill Member is where the original vertebrates were found in an abandoned quarry near Buncombe, Illinois. I have been conducting inter-institutional research by studying specimens collected in the 1980s and working with paleontologists from the ISGS, Smithsonian, and the Field Museum of Natural History. I am working on ultimately redescribing these vertebrates as well as describing new fossil material that was found by Joe Devera, senior paleontologist at ISGS in the 1990’s.
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What are you learning during the internship? Has anything surprised you or shifted your thinking?
During my internship, I have learned many new methods of collecting, preparing, and studying vertebrate fossils. I have also learned a great deal about early tetrapod diversity, evolution, and anatomy. I have been surprised by the fact that Illinois has a rich history of vertebrate fossil collecting but a significant lack of systematic research and publication of the material, something I aim to change or inspire others to change.
What sparked your interest in geoscience?
I have always been passionate and interested in paleontology and started out my academic career in zoology, but I eventually decided to pursue my passion for paleontology 100%, and I don’t regret a thing!
How do you think your internship might affect your studies or your career path?
This internship has helped me pursue my passion for paleontology and has helped me to gain a strong foothold in this academic field and potentially solidify it as a career.
What was the best part of your Potter internship experience?
The best part of my Potter internship experience has been the ability to work with some amazing geologists and paleontologists such as Dr. Jason Pardo and Dr. Jingmai O’Connor with the Field Museum of Natural History, Dr. Arjan Mann with the Smithsonian, and Joe Devera at ISGS.