Dr. Alyssa Bell received her Ph.D. in vertebrate paleontology from the University of Southern California in 2013, after which she joined the Dinosaur Institute as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. Alyssa’s research focuses primarily on avian evolution and the use of phylogenetics to study Cretaceous bird diversity. One facet of her research focuses on resolving the systematics and taxonomy of the Hesperornithiformes, a group of Late Cretaceous marine birds. Her Ph.D. thesis is the most complete compilation of research on the hesperornithiforms to date. Dr. Bell has also done a great deal of work exploring the use of morphometric data to better understand the ecology of Mesozoic birds. Alyssa has been participating in paleontological field work since she was a teenager, and has been contributing to NHMLA digs since 2005. She has worked throughout the western United States and helped excavate specimens such as Thomas the T. rex and the sauropod Gnatalie. In addition to her postdoc at the NHMLA, Dr. Bell is the Lead Paleontologist for SWCA Environmental Consultants, where she works to protect fossil resources in Southern California. Alyssa has been interested in paleontology and the evolution of birds from an early age. As an undergraduate, she did research on the molecular systematics of modern birds at William Jewell College, Cambridge University, and Brigham Young University. As a master's student at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Bell worked on developing molecular techniques to use anaerobic enteric bacteria as indicators of surface water contamination.
As a postdoctoral research scientist in the Dinosaur Institute, Dr. Rachel Racicot conducts paleontological research on a wide range of topics, including evolutionary morphology of marine mammals, scleractinian corals, dinosaurs from the Central Transantarctic Mountains, and the earliest known complex organisms (Ediacarans). Rachel wanted to be a paleontologist from the age of 5 because of her love of the outdoors and experience collecting invertebrate fossils around her hometown, Killeen, Texas. Her favorite dinosaur growing up was Pachycephalosaurus, but she became interested in studying marine mammals, specifically whales, after taking a course in vertebrate osteology as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin; the evolution of whale (and other vertebrate and invertebrate) morphology has fascinated her ever since. Rachel earned her B.S. at The University of Texas at Austin, where she also worked as a tech for the University of Texas High Resolution X-Ray CT Facility and did independent research using CT scans. She earned an M.S. in Evolutionary Biology at San Diego State University, and PhD in Vertebrate Paleontology/Geology and Geophysics at Yale University. She was previously at Howard University in Dr. Nate Smith’s lab and has continued research with him at the Dinosaur Institute. Rachel’s paleontological fieldwork thus far has spanned four continents, taking her to places such as Iceland, Japan, Namibia, Morocco, and within the US (Arizona, North Dakota, Montana). Her research has been funded by NSF, National Geographic, the Paleontological Society, and others. She is an editor for the international outreach journal Palaeontology [online]. Rachel’s work encompasses detailed anatomical descriptions of both fossil and extant species, which has garnered media attention, as well as analyses of functional morphology, phylogeny, and paleoecology.
Dr. Pedro Mocho is a geologist who did his undergraduate studies at the Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal) and received his M.Sc. in Biodiversity and his Ph.D. in Biology from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 2016, under the supervision of Dr. Francisco Ortega and Dr. Rafael Royo-Torres. He is now a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Dinosaur Institute of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. His main research is focused on the evolutionary history of sauropod dinosaurs, in particular the phylogenetic context of the Upper Jurassic sauropods of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) and North America (USA). In the Dinosaur Institute, he is working on the systematics and paleobiology of the sauropods from the "Gnatalie" quarry (Upper Jurassic, Utah) and from the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (Upper Cretaceous, New Mexico). He is also studying Middle Jurassic sauropods from Africa and the evolution of Titanosauriforms during the Early and Upper Cretaceous, including new research on several forms from Spain, North America, and Africa. He is collaborating on different paleontological research and outreach projects in Spain, Portugal, and the United States. His research has taken him on several national and international expeditions in Western Portugal, Utah, New Mexico, and Spain. He is also collaborating with the Grupo de Biología Evolutiva, UNED (Spain) and Sociedade de História Natural (Torres Vedras, Portugal).
Dr. Francisco J. Serrano is a paleoornithologist who studies the morphofunctional evolution and flight performance of birds, from the first Mesozoic representatives to their modern counterparts. His doctoral thesis was finished in 2015, under the guidance of Dr. José Luis Sanz (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, UAM, Spain) and Dr. Paul Palmqvist (Universidad de Málaga, UMA, Spain), and it mainly focused on inferring the flight parameters of extinct birds. By using a multipronged approach that combines morphofunctional analyses with modeling flight parameters, Dr. Serrano described the aerodynamic properties of the early birds. Currently, Dr. Serrano is a postdoctoral researcher funded by the Dinosaur Institute through a partnership agreement with UMA, UAM and Sierra Elvira Foundation (Spain). He also belongs to the Paleobiology, Paleoclimatology and Paleogeography research group at UMA and is involved in a research project studying the Plio-Pleistocene of Guadix-Baza basin (Granada, Spain).
Nathan Carroll's first experience with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County was in Ekalaka, Montana. As a high school student, he had the privilege of assisting the NHM crews as they excavated dinosaurs just 20 minutes away from the ranch he grew up on. He pursued a B.S. and was recently awarded (December 2014) a M.S. in Earth Sciences at Montana State University, where he studied the diversity of Late Cretaceous pterosaurs. He is excited to start his Ph.D. program at USC in conjunction with NHMLA, where he works around the actual dinosaur specimens that started his career as a teenager in Montana.
Yun-Hsin Wu's journey into vertebrate paleontology began with research on the Pleistocene Stegodon, a member of the order Proboscidea from East Asia. Currently the focus of her research is avian evolution. She has worked with Dr. Alyssa Bell and Dr. Luis Chiappe to decipher the paleoecology of the Hesperornithiformes, an extinct group of diving birds from the Cretaceous. Her interdisciplinary Ph.D. work will utilize microstructure anatomical studies of extinct birds and developmental studies of extant species to understand the ecological and evolutionary history of birds.
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