Notes from the Field Presentations

On Sunday, December 4th, The Metropolitan Society of Natural Historians hosted Notes from the Field Presentations at the Richard Gilder Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). During this event, three researchers from the AMNH, Columbia University and the City University of New York discussed their recent field expeditions across the world to look for fossils, deep sea creatures and leeches. 

Abagael West is a paleontologist who specializes in the study of fossil mammals. She received her B.A. in Zoology from the University of Cambridge in 2010, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, in the collaborative program with the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the AMNH. After defending her Ph.D. in late December, she is moving to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History as a Rea Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research is on several aspects of the evolution and relationships of the Notoungulata, an extinct order of hoofed mammals from South America. She is particularly interested in using ancient DNA and protein sequences to test and augment traditional paleontological hypotheses and datasets. West discussed her field expedition to Antarctica to look for fossils. To learn about this Antarctica expedition, visit the project's website or twitter account. Various new articles were also published about the expedition in Arctic Sun, Forbes, and the Guardian. A youtube video about the project is also available.

Michael Tessler is a fourth year Ph.D. Candidate at the AMNH’s Richard Gilder Graduate School. He is generally interested in biodiversity and has conducted studies on leeches, mosses, and bacteria. The focus of these studies has included taxonomy, systematics, ecology, and conservation. He has helped pioneer new methods for comparisons of sites for conservation purposes and CT scanning of soft-bodied invertebrates to describe new species of leeches. Tessler presented his experiences traveling across Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Central America to look for leeches in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats and also discussed some cultural experiences from his travels. If you would like to learn more about Tessler and his research, please visit his website or the website of the Leech Lab at the AMNH.


Dr. Mercer R. Brugler is an Assistant Professor at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) and a Research Associate at the AMNH and Smithsonian NMNH. Dr. Brugler is a deep-sea evolutionary biologist that specializes in the phylogenetic systematics and molecular evolution of black corals and sea anemones (phylum Cnidaria). He has participated in ten research cruises and two submersible dives in Alvin, and recently sent three minority CityTech students to the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary (Gulf of Mexico) to collect black corals using the remotely operated vehicle Mohawk. Dr. Brugler received his B.S. from the University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL), M.S. from the College of Charleston's Grice Marine Lab (Charleston, SC), and Ph.D. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Lafayette, LA). Dr. Brugler discussed his trip exploring deep-sea canyons and methane seeps along the Northwest Atlantic Continental Margin using the famous research submersible Alvin and the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry. If you want to learn more about Dr. Brugler and his work, you can see his publications here, visit his website here or follow him on Twitter (@ProfBrugler). 

A special thanks to our presenters and to the Richard Gilder Graduate School for allowing us to use their space. If you have any questions for our presenters, please contact, and we will help put you in contact with them. To view more photos from this event, visit our gallery. All photo credit goes to Maurice Chen.