Gabriel Santos began work on September 1st as the Alf Museum‘s first ever collections manager, an endowed position funded by a generous gift from Gretchen Augustyn and family. Gabe will be working closely with Augustyn Family Curator of Paleontology Dr. Andy Farke to catalog, organize, and care for our ever expanding collection of scientifically significant fossils. Now that the size of the collections exceeds 165,000 specimens and our research program has reached international prominence, it was important to have a collections manager like Gabe join our dedicated staff. Big projects that Gabe will be implementing include expanding our collections storage capacity by 40% (we are near 100% full now) and moving our collections databases into Specify, a state-of-the-art system that ensures the museum’s fossils will be documented and accessible to a broad audience.
Gabe was born and raised in Southern California and spent a lot of his childhood roaming around museums and watching episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy. He had an early fascination with fossils and would spend hours playing with dinosaur figures and imagining how they might have lived.
After high school, Gabe studied biology as a premed student at University of California-Irvine. After graduating in 2010, he rediscovered his love of fossils during a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Soon thereafter, he began volunteering at the Dr. John D. Cooper Paleontological and Archaeological Center in Santa Ana. His career was decided in 2013 when Gabe was promoted to curatorial assistant. From that time until he began his duties at the Alf Museum in September 2015, Gabe efforts at the Cooper Center were centered on the 2014 National Science Foundation Collections Improvement Grant, the Talega Bonebed Project, the Bonita Canyon Whale site, Cooper Center social media, and the center’s annual National Fossil Day event. Gabe also developed and implemented the Cooper Center’s educational YouTube channel.
In his free time, Gabe is finishing his master’s thesis at California State University-Fullerton, a research project centered on a local site that preserves the fossilized remains of animals that lived in a rainforest 45 million years ago. Gabe is also active in the study of hippo-like fossil marine mammals known as desmostylians, which lived along the ancient shores of southern California.