Science & Tech

Charles Schaff brings knack for finding fossils to field — and Harvard

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Museum curator maintains “fossil library” for world’s researchers

Charles Schaff ‘s official job description isn’t “fossil hunter.” He is a curatorial associate at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Schaff, however, makes regular trips to look for fossils in places as far-flung as Africa, South America and Greenland. Though the trips provide high points of excitement, most of Schaff’s time is spent watching over Harvard’s fossil collection. As curatorial associate, Schaff keeps track of Harvard’s fossils, cataloging and storing them in drawers inside rows of gray cabinets that fill four large rooms at the Museum. Schaff describes the collection as a sort of fossil library and says the specimens are not just used by Harvard professors, undergraduates, and graduate students, but by scientists all over the world.