“Briefly, what is your academic background up to this point? How did you get interested in paleontology?
I got a B.Sc. in Biology from Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, and did a bachelor thesis on Siamotyrannus, a theropod from northeastern Thailand. After that I got a scholarship from the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Government of Thailand, to study abroad. I decided to study biology/ paleontology in Germany, where I got an MSc in Evolution, Ecology & Systematics from LMU Munich. I did a thesis on Siamotyrannus, which is a continuous project for my bachelor thesis. Now I’m a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Bonn, Germany studying theropod phylogeny and diversity from Thailand and Southeast Asia.
During the bachelor study, I became interested in vertebrate zoology, anatomy, evolution, and scientific illustration. I tried to go to many fields such as marine biology, plant tissue culture, and bird ecology. Finally, I found that vertebrate paleontology answered my question on what I want to do for the rest of my life if I want to become a scientist. I’m interested how paleontologists tell what animals they are based on just a few bones, what method they use, and I love to draw dinosaurs, both skeletal and life reconstruction. The most exciting is that the information we got can be changed when we find new fossils, so we need to keep learning.
What about the theropods of Thailand interests you?
In Thailand and particularly in Southeast Asia, theropods are rare, mostly fragmented, and not complete. But they do express the diversity. Many theropod taxa from various groups from the Early Cretaceous which are not much known worldwide can be found here. And there is potential that a lot is waiting to be found in the near future since we just started to explore them in the last 30-40 years. The preliminary results from my Ph.D. thesis show that southeast Asia played an important role in theropod evolution; for example, some theropod groups might have originated here.
What kinds of research methods are you using?
I use traditional methods together with computer programs and statistics. I do normal description and comparison, take photographs and drawing. I also do morphometric geometrics for some materials. Bone histology, which is a study of the microstructure of hard tissue, will be applied to my work in the future as well. The cladistic method is my main tool to study the phylogeny of theropods in my dissertation.
How will this award help you accomplish your research?
I will use this award to find out more theropod materials in Thailand. This amount of money would make a great benefit for the project because the living expense there is not high. The results of my study, which are partly supported by this award, would tell us more about theropod diversity in the future and can improve the importance of Thailand and southeast Asia in paleontology worldwide.”