Volunteer Spotlight



Barry Hughes int the Condon CollectionThere aren’t many people who can say they’ve traveled millions of years through time, but Barry Hughes is one of them.

In his journeys through the museum’s Condon Fossil Collection—also known as the Oregon State Museum of Paleontology—Barry catalogs fossil plant specimens, ensuring that each is accompanied by up-to-date genus, species, and age information.

“I started going through our Holocene fossils, which are about 10 thousand years old, and I’m almost through the Eocene,” he said. “So, I’ve traveled about 50 million years.”

Although Barry holds degrees in biology, botany, and ecology—and has been interested in fossils for decades—he never expected to find himself volunteering in a paleontology lab after he retired. Persuaded by a friend who’d volunteered in the University of Oregon’s Earth Sciences department, Barry eventually signed up and began working with museum scientist and UO professor Greg Retallack.

“It was like finding a home I never knew I had,” he said. “My job here is to take the care and wonderment that people before me have shown these fossils, and pass it on to the next generation. I’m part of a continuity.”

Barry describes the Condon Collection as an important repository for future scientific endeavors. “With thousands of specimens meticulously preserved here, and with each decade’s technological advancements, we have opportunities to continuously learn more about these fossils than we ever could have known before.”

We’re fortunate to count Barry among our volunteers and are grateful for the care, wonderment, and curiosity he brings to his “time travels” in the Condon Collection. Thank you, Barry!

—Andrea Willingham, Museum Communications


NEXT: Digital Journeys into the Collections Vault

Table of Contents


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *