Dr. Jessie Maisano

High-resolution X-ray computed tomography (HRXCT) is a nondestructive technology that uses X-rays to detect materials within opaque objects based on differences in density and atomic number. An HRXCT scan produces a series of slices that, when placed into a stack, form a continuous 3D digital map of the object’s structure. This map can be used to take specimens apart, digitally prepare fossils, and digitally skeletonize intact animals. Since 1997, The University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility (UTCT) has scanned specimens as diverse as meteorites, insects in amber, potato chips, Lucy, oboe reeds, and the oldest-known bird and dinosaur for clients from all over the world. The Digital Library of Morphology, or DigiMorph.org, was created to make web-sized visualizations derived from these HRXCT scans freely available to thepublic. These visualizations include 3D rotations, reslicings, cutaways, and surface models, mostly of skulls and skeletons. DigiMorph went live in 2002 and now serves HRXCT imagery for more than 1000 specimens, representing a collaborative effort between UTCT and nearly 300 researchers from the world’s premiere natural history museums and universities.

Dr. Jessie Maisano

Dr. Jessie Maisano

Dr. Jessie Maisano is a research scientist at the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility (UTCT) in Austin. She received her BA in geology at Kent State University in 1994 and her PhD in vertebrate paleontology at Yale University in 2000. She then moved to the University of Texas as a postdoc on the then-nascent Digital Library of Morphology (DigiMorph.org). Jessie held a subsequent postdoctoral position on the Deep Scaly project (NSF Assembling the Tree of Life) before being hired by UTCT, where she has been facility manager since 2008. She is also the primary operator of UTCT’s Zeiss MicroXCT-400 scanner and caretaker of DigiMorph.org. Jessie’s main research interests lie in squamate (lizards, snakes, amphisbaenians) osteology as revealed by CT, especially cranial anatomy and ‘extraskeletal’ systems such as osteoderms. However, her collaborations via UTCT have resulted in publications on topics as diverse as carbon sequestration, Lucy, diamond formation, and Ediacaran fossils.