The Dinosaur Institute team recently returned from a three-week dinosaur dig in the Jurassic outcrops of Utah.
This bone is a humerus (upper arm bone) of a long necked brachiosaur. It takes a lot of work to clean a bone this big. Learn more >
We are currently studying a new species of an ornithischian dinosaur (lower jaw pictured above). It is the smallest known dinosaur from North America and one of the tiniest dinosaurs ever found.
As the Director of the Dinosaur Institute, I supervise all of the Institute's programs. My research is centered around the evolution of archosaurs, a group of reptiles that includes crocodiles, pterosaurs (flying reptiles), dinosaurs and their descendants, the birds. My research takes me all over the world and is strongly based on field work. Over the last 20 years, I have conducted field work in the United States, Argentina, Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan. One of the core programs of my research is the origin and early evolution of birds. Together with my students and associates, I have documented the existence of numerous species of Mesozoic birds and nonavian theropod dinosaurs, and provided detailed analyses of their genealogical relationships. The foundation provided by these genealogical studies have led to inferences about the evolution of many attributes of birds and it has helped to decipher the evolutionary steps taken between the dinosaurian forerunners of early birds and their modern counterparts. Another important program of my research activities deals with the reproductive behavior and development of sauropod dinosaurs. Much of this work has been centered in the exceptional sauropod nesting site of Auca Mahuevo, in Patagonia (Argentina), a site my associates and I discovered in 1997. I am also an Adjunct Professor at University of Southern California and a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim and the Alexander Humboldt Foundations.
As Lab Supervisor of the Dinosaur Institute, I'm responsible for training, advising, and directly assisting our volunteers in addition to our contract paleontological preparatory staff in all phases of fossil preparation. With over 15 years of experience, I currently organize crews and equipment for national/international field expeditions in an effort to continuously build our dinosaur collection at the Museum. Our team does everything from prospecting, discovering, documenting, and collecting fossil material brought into our lab. It is then cleaned thoroughly using state-of-the-art equipment, materials, and techniques. We're constantly challenged by the wide range and delicate nature of fossil remains that need to be stabilized as proficiently as possible. They are often molded, cast, and painted for exhibiting or networking with other institutions. My service in the United States Marine Corps after high school prepared me well for the many harsh conditions we often face when doing fieldwork each season. I have also pursued careers in special effects makeup and as an embalmer, specializing in restorative art (the reconstruction of severely traumatized human remains). These skills have also been supplemented by college studies in geology and biology. I never could have imagined my childhood fascination with dinosaurs would come full circle with the fossil preparation work I do at the Dinosaur Institute. As varied as my background expertise and interests have been, they have enabled me to become an invaluable tool in the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
As Assistant Collections Manager, I am able to draw from over ten years of professional experience in museum curation, environmental mitigation and fossil preparation to evaluate and maintain the Mesozoic collection here at the NHM. In this capacity, I am able to participate in the best of what the Dinosaur Institute has to offer; great educational programs, global research collaboration with high impact results and world-class studies in avian evolution and systematics. My research interests include the micro-preparation and study of Mesozoic birds. Since joining the DI, I have prepared numerous avian specimens from the famous Jehol Biota of Liaoning, China for institutions such as the Beijing Natural History Museum, the Dalian Museum of Prehistory, the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, the Mongolian Paleontological Center, Ulaanbaatar and the Museu Historia Natural Taubate, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
As illustrator and photographer for the Dinosaur Institute, I utilize my passions for detail, precision, and aesthetics to merge scientific research with an artistic sensibility. I received my BFA (with emphasis in painting and drawing) from the University of Southern California Roski School of Fine Arts and I have been working with the Dinosaur Institute since 2006. The images I make include photographs, line drawings, fleshed out renderings, or skeletal reconstructions. They are used to interpret anatomical information in scientific publications, graduate proposals, exhibits, and press releases. In addition to illustration, I also participate in fieldwork with the Dinosaur Institute, which includes mapping quarries and locating and excavating fossil specimens. It's great to be involved in so many different aspects of dinosaur research, from fieldwork to visual reconstruction and preparation of figures for publication. For me, the challenge of combining scientific processes and art is exciting, and this is what I find most appealing about my work.
I graduated from the University of Southern California where I studied sculpture and illustration. Years of working in the entertainment, toy and product prototyping and fine art production has helped me develop the dexterity and technical aptitude necessary for fossil preparation, prospecting, and field excavation. As an artist for the Dinosaur Institute and the Museum, I produce artwork for Museum exhibitions and publications, particularly for the new Dinosaur Hall.
A childhood love of dinosaurs and previous volunteer work at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum has led to my current position as a Paleontological Preparator here at the Dinosaur Institute. Originally from Adelaide, South Australia and having a background in special effects makeup and photography, I have always held a strong appreciation for the Earth Sciences and enjoy working as a team player in this fascinating department. Not only is everyday a satisfying learning experience but it also yields a high degree of satisfaction from being involved in such important work for what is truly one of North America's finest museums.
I received a BFA in painting from California State University Long Beach. A great love of the past has lead me to diverse fields of interests from contraptionaria, to Fine Model building, Miniatures and instrument making. I have a background in Painting, Sculpture and antiquities conservation, with an emphasis on the preservation of leather and wood. As a preparator for the Dinosaur Institute I am called upon to utilize a full range of skills. Every piece presents a series of challenges that require unique solutions. In the world of the museum one can easily get lost, sooner or later you may end up as part of an exhibit!
As a Paleontological Preparator, every day is filled with excitement and adventure. My interest in fossils, especially Dinosaurs, came from my experiences as a volunteer and research intern with the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. My ability to maintain focus and attention to detail helps me to be precise while working on fossils. I regularly participate in fieldwork which has taken me to Utah, the Mojave Desert, and the Petrified Forest in Arizona. My academic background in physical anthropology and professional experience in hair and makeup, allows for a unique perspective on various approaches to fossil preparation. It is wonderful to be a part of the NHM family and to contribute to the research process.
My love for nature and my academic background in ecology and previous volunteer work at the Natural History Museum took me to join this great team of scientist and researchers. I have come to see the Museum itself as a learning institution, where people with different backgrounds, ethnicities, and of all ages come to have fun learning. Working with dinosaur fossils is my life’s passion, and sharing it with Museum visitors makes every day unique and fulfilling. By collecting fossils during our field trips, and preparing them at the Dino Lab, our team unveils the secret life of dinosaurs and the environment in which they used to live.
My time in the Natural History Museum has given me the understanding that science alone is not enough to protect the invaluable treasures of the natural world from the past, present, and future. We also need an emotional connection to the natural world. When working on a dinosaur fossil or during a field trip, those two aspects come together and a powerful sense of wholeness awakes, making me feel respect, responsibility, and appreciation for the land.