Lindsay E Zanno PhD

Dr. Lindsay Zanno is Head of Paleontology at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University where she is part of the Paleobiology and Forensic Anthropology Research Group and Paleobiology Minor. At the museum she oversees the unit’s collective research and educational activities, three research collections (Paleobotany, Invertebrate Paleontology, & Vertebrate Paleontology), and directs the on-exhibit Paleontology Research Lab in the Nature Research Center building.

Zanno’s research interests and methods are broad. Her lab uses morphological data from extinct and living vertebrates to address evolutionary patterns on geologic timescales, with a focus on Mesozoic dinosaurs.  Specifically, she is one of the world’s leading experts on evolution of theropod dinosaurs—a group that includes the iconic predator T. rex and Velociraptor, as well as living birds.  The Zanno Lab works at all scales from detailed anatomical descriptions of newly discovered species to identifying broad macroevolutionary trends. Currently active projects can be organized into the following themes: the evolution of diet and dentition, sexual/social display structures and weaponry; comparative life history and growth; paleobiogeography; extinction/radiation; reproductive paleobiology; and alpha-taxonomy/systematics. The Zanno Lab’s methodological approaches encompass advanced visualization technology (laser surface scanning, computed tomography, photogrammetry, 3D printing), histology, phylogenetic comparative methods, and comparative anatomy.

 

An important component of Zanno’s research program is exploratory in nature. Her teams typically spend several months a year on expedition collecting fossils of dinosaurs and other Mesozoic vertebrates for scientific research. Goals of the field program are aimed at understanding how changing climate and environmental conditions affected life on land during the Cretaceous.  Currently active field projects span the Asian and North American continents and include Mongolia, Thailand, multiple states across the American West from where she has discovered the remains of more than a dozen new species, including Siats, one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs on the continent, and Moros, North America's tiniest tyrannosaur. You can follow along with Zanno Lab expeditions on the real-time social media platform—Expedition Live!

 

Zanno’s research is regularly published in high-profile, general science journals including Nature, Nature Communications, PNAS, Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, and Scientific Reports, for which she was awarded top 100 author recognitions in 2016 & 2017. Her work has been recognized as Nature World News’ Top Dinosaur Stories, Discover Magazine’s top 100 Science Stories, and Discover Magazine’s Year in Science Top Research and has been featured by notables such as the Science Channel, History Channel, National Geographic, CBC, PBS, NPR, NHK, Nova, and the BBC, among others. She was recently featured as Science Advocate for the Walking With Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular, on-air host for The Ice Age Exhibition, and currently serves as President of The Jurassic Foundation, a non-profit, grant funding organization supporting dinosaur research.  She also coordinates several citizen science and STEM education projects including FossilPhiles, a teen citizen science effort to digitize fossils and Shark Tooth Forensics, with Dr. Terry Gates.

 

Zanno’s published impact includes >170 technical works and to date, her lab has received over $6M in direct funding for research and education.

CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Associate Research Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NC State University

Research Associate, Vertebrate Paleontology, Sam Noble Museum

Research Associate, Department of Geology, Field Museum of Natural History

Research Associate, Paleontology, Natural History Museum of Utah

Honorary Research Staff, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of Witwatersrand

Research Associate, Department of Marine, Earth, & Atmospheric Sciences, NC State University

President, The Jurassic Foundation

Anatomy, phylogeny, & paleobiology of theropod dinosaurs

Paleoecology & paleobiogeography of Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystems

Effects of climate & environmental change on vertebrate diversity, speciation, and extinction

Comparative phylogenetic approaches to vertebrate evolution

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Awards

North Carolina State University College of Sciences Outstanding Engagement Award 2019 

Induction into the Outstanding Faculty in Extension and Engagement, North Carolina State University, 2019

Top 100 Author, Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group), 2017

Outstanding Reviewer, Cretaceous Research (Elsevier), 2017  

Top 100 Author, Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group), 2016

Top Dinosaur Stories, Nature World News, 2013

Discover Magazine’s Year in Science Top Research Honor, 2006    

Discover Magazine’s top 100 science stories, 2005