A Reputation for Experimentation

Drexel has long been known for its excellence in engineering and the sciences, but we think of the whole campus as a laboratory. Our facilities are state-of-the-art, and we make them available to all undergraduates. Even better, we encourage students to experiment across disciplines, pairing game designers with nursing students, dancers with engineers, entrepreneurs with mathematicians, and more.

Photo: Human Patient Simulation Lab

Asking the Right Questions

Like the fossils she’s unearthed, Aja Carter has come a long way (although her trip was a few million years shorter). A North Philadelphia native, her journey began when her kindergarten teacher asked her which animal she’d like as a pet. Thinking of her favorite book, she replied that she wanted the iconic Tyrannosaurus Rex. When her teacher explained that it wasn’t possible because dinosaurs are extinct, Aja resolved to find out why.

We don’t all take childhood questions like these so seriously, but Aja’s different.

Now an Undergraduate at Drexel studying Paleontology, her search for answers has turned up even more questions. But for Aja, that’s the point. “I’m learning to ask the right things,” she says, explaining that the small paleontology community at Drexel has allowed her to work closely with graduate students and professors and to benefit from their experience. It’s not a one-way relationship, though. That’s why she’s currently planning to build a catalog of the Academy of Natural Science’s extensive specimen collection to assist her colleagues in their own research.

Of course, Aja’s making discoveries of her own. She made her first on a dig in Montana alongside fellow Drexel students. At first, the experience made her question her dedication to paleontology – the Montana countryside was well outside of the comfort zone of this devoted city-dweller. She nearly returned home empty-handed until a routine hike on the last day of the dig led her to an unexpected cache of fossilized dinosaur remains.

That moment reminded her of her mission. “It’s seeing a world that isn’t here anymore,” she explains. And she knows that paleontological discoveries have important implications for a broad range of topics including anatomy, biomechanics, ecology, cellular biology, evolutionary heritage, and climate study. That vision sustains her as she continues her research. For the fossils, the journey has come to an end. But Aja’s just getting started.