“I also came into contact with human brains and whole pelicans stuffed in jars with preservatives.”
In all our excitement over move-in day and Common Moment, we totally spaced on this heartwarming New York Daily News profile on Ryan Moyé ’16, a newly arrived frosh from Harlem who has spent two years working at the American Museum of Natural History, taking four advanced-level courses and producing a research paper. This summer, Moyé took home the museum’s first-ever Science Scholar Award, winning a $30,000 scholarship. His expertise? Dinosaurs.
“I went hardcore into sciences and math in my junior year,” said Moyé, who won the award for his computer-aided comparisons of the complex skull shapes of prehistoric reptiles called crurotarsans, which are ancestors of crocodiles.
Not all of Moyé role models in the museum were fossilized, however:
To stay afloat in the sea of bones and research, Moyé got help from a mentor, Stephen Brusatte.
A graduate student under Mark Norell, the museum’s paleontology chairman and curator, Brusatte says he was impressed by Moyé’s perseverance. Together, they charted the evolving shape and size of the prehistoric skulls.
Wesleying caught up Moyé, who just turned 18 last week, for a brief interview about the museum, his impressions of Wes, and human brains in jars. Click past the jump for the full interview.
What inspired you to apply for the Museum’s Science Scholar Award?
I wasn’t necessarily inspired to apply for the scholarship as I felt a duty to apply for it. I mean, here I am applying to one of the most expensive colleges on the east coast, with both my sisters in college and my mom paying out of pocket to keep them in school. I thought it was my obligation to apply for this fantastic scholarship to lighten my mother’s load.
How do you plan to make use of your dinosaur expertise at Wes?
I plan on double majoring in Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences here and potentially creating a paleontology major or forming my education around that discipline. I also want to volunteer working with Professor Sarah Croucher in the Archaeology department in order to get some experience in going on digs and preparing artifacts/ specimen. I want to take some classes in Paleoanthropology as well, and also might do some joint work at UConn if I can, because I believe they have a good Paleontology program there. I’m going to study abroad, probably in South America or China to see if I can get in on some digs there, and I also want to apply to be a Marshall Scholar, like my mentor at the museum was, so that I can spend a year at the University of Bristol where I know they have an exceptional Paleontology program. I hope this doesn’t sound too crazy.
Have you reached out to the Wes Biology department at all?
I introduced myself to Professors Burke and Cohan at the Freeman Forum thing extensively about evolutionary biology/morphological evolution and quantifying disparity and a bunch of other stuff. I made it clear that I was going to major in Bio at Wes. I also went to Professor Chernoff’s FYS and decided to take his Intro to Environmental Studies course this semester.
What other classes are you taking this semester?
I’m taking Principles of Bio, Intro to Planetary Geo, Myths, Magic and Movies (HARRY POTTER CLASS!), and Outdoor Hiking.
What’s the most insane thing you ever saw or did at the Museum of Natural History?
The craziest thing I’ve ever seen at the museum were naked children playing around in the fountains near the Planetarium on 81st Street. I know it was the summer, but that was really weird. I also came into contact with human brains and whole pelicans stuffed in jars with preservatives.
Also, in the Herpetology Department, they have a bunch of tortoises and one really big one that just roams around the department; it’s really funny to watch him drag himself down the halls and watch other people walk by and acknowledge him as though he were another employee.
What are your impressions of campus so far?
I really love the campus! In particular the topography. One reason I chose Wesleyan was because it wasn’t flat and boring like other schools I’ve visited (cough cough Brown cough cough). I also love the atmosphere and that other students, especially upperclassmen, are excited to help us out.
Today I met a senior who is music major, I think his name was like Alexander or something like that, who all but walked me to theCrowell Concert Hall when I asked for directions. He’s also in a band that I think has the word “bacon” in the name? (I have a really bad memory, sorry.)
What are some of your other hobbies or interest (besides dinosaurs)?
I love to listen to music. Favorite groups include The Dodos, Caravan Palace, Lady Gaga, Frank Ocean, Muse, etc. I also play guitar as a novice. I love to read (mostly fantasy/ fiction). I love dancing salsa!