Rick Hellman

Some of my earliest childhood memories were of my forays in San Antonio, Texas collecting insects, amphibians and reptiles near our home. This inclination continued throughout my childhood and, once coupled with the ability to read, led to my fascination with everything dinosaurian. While most 6 year old boys aspired to sports heroisim, my goals were far more modest-I simply wished to dig up dinosaur eggs in Mongolia a la Roy Chapman Andrews! I also exhibited an early talent in the graphic arts and, while having been left to my own inclinations, I may have ended up in academic paleontology and/or scientific illustration, my immigrant parents perceived a science and math bent and strongly directed me into the health sciences.

Even while as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, however, my native instincts popped up, with interests in painting, sculpture and developmental biology leading me to spend one year in a pathology research lab after graduation before ultimately pursuing a medical school pathway. While my head sought out pediatrics, my heart directed me into pathology, and eventually into forensic pathology, which surprisingly meshed several interests and drives. Little did I realize that, through inclinations often imperceptible, I would end up in a medical field as close to my childhood aspirations as possible!

My professional career has been remarkably rich, with the opportunities I have had both in the military (U.S. Army) as a medical examiner and a flight surgeon and in the civilian sector guiding my burgeoning interests in graduate education, public health and, through organized medicine, health policy. Remarkably, once I delved back into paleontology, I discovered an amazing synergy. Pathology, forensic science and art are all encapsulated in a beautiful way within many fossils, both in situ and after preparation. The questions with which I am often confronted at the scene of an individual’s demise are much the same as those I ponder with many fossils, albeit within a chronological framework far more vast than in my “day job”. My students at Drexel University College of Medicine are quite familiar with my transitioning from forensic pathology to paleontology and back; it is an easy migration. I have also found that my facility in the forensic sciences has helped me greatly in the examination of fossil specimens for fraud and to appreciate the often quite subtle modifications and enhancements that may be made within fossil specimens destined for the commercial collector.

My journey has been made far more rich in the company of my lovely wife, Holly and my four children, Rachel, Justin, Zachary and Sierra. My family deserves special kudos for their patience as I have pursued my varied interests. May this newest venture bring you, our customer as much joy as it has brought us in its creation.


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Meticulous Intensity:  Rick Hellman looks for "the mystery of what's been left out."