CHEN MINGSHI, 26
She maintains biological specimens – including dinosaur fossils.
Must not be afraid of dead animals – that’s one of the essentials of being a specialist associate at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. It’s also one of the traits that got Mingshi the job, which requires her to maintain and curate the museum’s vast collection of more than a million biological specimens, including the three much-talked-about diplodocid sauropod dinosaurs. The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts graduate tells us more about her work and herself.
What drew you to this job?
“I’ve always been curious about the anatomy of animals and how their systems work. Before I started working at the museum, I used to take pictures of dead animals (mostly roadkill) such as rats and birds to observe them more closely.”
But you were a student of fine arts.
“It might not be directly related to what I’m doing now, but having a fine-arts background has taught me to be meticulous, which is advantageous when handling specimens, especially the more fragile ones. It’s very delicate work – we usually mount wet specimens onto a piece of glass with a fishing line, so they look like they are floating in the middle of the display jar.”
You seem fearless – does anything gross you out?
“Touching living animals – even hamsters! Yes, it’s ironic. I’m not scared of dead ones, though. And that works to my advantage because we handle most of the specimens with our bare hands. We only wear gloves when we’re working with sensitive materials and strong chemicals like formalin.”
STYLING: EVON CHNG, HAIR: ANN LIN/ATHENS SALON, MAKEUP: MELISSA YEO, USING MAKE UP FOR EVER. Dress from Core Women/Robinsons, cuff is stylist’s own.
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