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Ellie is a paleobotanist, which means she studies fossilized plants and assists Alan Grant with his digs. Hammond invites her to the island to get her opinion on the plant life at the park. A good thing he did: Ellie spots poisoned ferns planted where visitors could easily touch them. Great planning, Hammond.
When Ellie uncovers a mystery, she sticks with it until the matter is solved. For example, when the tour group comes upon the sick Stegosaur, Ellie takes it upon herself to investigate why the old girl is in such a sad state.
Ellie doesn't shy away from what needs doing, either. When Muldoon needs to get the raptors off the roof, Ellie bravely volunteers to be the distraction. Fortunately, she lives through the ordeal, and we hope returns to her fiancé back in the States. (Nope, it's not Alan Grant.)