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A Bennie Working to Understand, Predict and Conserve the Future

Since graduating from the College of Saint Benedict, Erin Saupe '07 has spent most of her days in the classroom.  

First, as a student obtaining graduate degrees. Now, as associate professor of paleobiology at University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

"As with many positions, I am constantly pulled in many directions," Erin says. "I need to teach, research, write grants and serve on committees. I am just beginning, but I enjoy interacting with the students and teaching them Earth history. It's very rewarding when they begin to understand how to distinguish observations from inference."

Erin attended graduate school at the University of Kansas Department of Geology, receiving her master's degree in 2009 and Ph.D. in 2014.

In August 2014, Erin worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, where she collaborated with scientists from diverse fields to explore how life evolved on our planet.

"I really enjoyed my post doctorate at Yale," the St. Cloud, Minnesota, native says. "Dr. Derek Briggs was an excellent mentor. He provided important guidance on becoming an independent scientist and honed my grant-writing skills."

During her time at CSB, Erin majored in natural sciences with concentrations in geology and biology.

"I obtained my curiosity and drive to learn more about our world as a result of my time at CSB," she says. "My professors at CSB actively encouraged me to think critically, and to become a producer rather than a consumer of knowledge."

Erin hopes to make a lasting impression on her Oxford students, just as her professors did for her.
"My longer-term goals are to successfully usher my graduate students to their own fruitful careers and to grow as a teacher and scientist," she says.

As a paleontologist, Erin hopes to continue to develop the field of conservation paleobiology.

"This is research that uses past biodiversity dynamics in the fossil record - essentially what has happened to communities and species in the past - to better understand, predict and conserve the future. One of the lines I like to use is, ‘I hope that my research, with a look towards the past, can inform our future — let us not make paleobiology the biology of
the future.' "