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 and soon-to-be constructed SECU DinoLab in the Nature Research Center wing.

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Zanno’s research interests are broad.  Her lab collects data from extinct and living vertebrates to address biological trends on geologic timescales, with a focus on Mesozoic dinosaurs.  Current projects revolve around dinosaur diet and dentition, comparative life history and growth, and reproductive paleobiology, and biodiversity patterns in Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystems.  Methodological approaches of the lab range from detailed anatomical descriptions of newly discovered species to phylogenetic comparative methods, osteohistology, and advanced visualization technologies.

An important component of Zanno’s research program is exploratory in nature.  Her teams typically spend several months a year on expeditions 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 Thermal Maximuma turbulent interval in Earth history with direct applications for our modern climate crisis.  Zanno's lab has active field projects in Asia and North America, including Mongolia, Thailand, and multiple states across the American West.  To date, she and her crews have 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. 

Zanno’s research regularly garners worldwide media attention. 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 many others.  She was recently recognized with the Eighteenth International Award in Palaeontological Research (Paleonturology 20) and received two top 100 author recognitions from Nature Publishing Group. 

 

Zanno actively works to build transparency in science.  She served as Science Advocate for the Walking With Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular, on-air host for The Ice Age Exhibition, and she currently serves as President of The Jurassic Foundation, a non-profit, grant funding organization supporting dinosaur research around the globe.  She also leads several public engagement projects including the real-time platform—Expedition Live! connecting the public with paleontologists in the field and multiple public science projects including Cretaceous Creatures, a microvertebrate fossil discovery program, FossilPhiles, a teen citizen science effort to digitize fossils, and Shark Tooth Forensics, with Dr. Terry Gates.

Zanno’s published impact ranges from top science journals such as Nature to everyday Tweets and includes >200 technical works and more than a dozen popular publications.  To date, her lab has received over $7M 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

Eighteenth International Award in Palaeontological Research (Paleonturology 20)

Communications Biology Two-Year Anniversary Collection Selection, Editor Favorite 2020

North Carolina State University Analytical Instrumentation Facility’s Annual Best Paper Award, 2020

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

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