Paul Sereno – 2009
Paul Sereno has hunted fossils on five continents. He has discovered dinosaurs and super-crocodiles that ate dinosaurs. And, he will came to Beloit to regale audiences about his finds and his efforts, as co-founder of Project Exploration, to expand public access to science.
Dr. Sereno received the seventh annual Roy Chapman Andrews Society Distinguished Explorer Award on Thursday, January 22, 2009. Highlighting the award program was his lecture, “Living Indiana Jones.”
Following in the footsteps of Beloit native Roy Chapman Andrews, Dr. Sereno has made some of the most important dinosaur and fossil finds of the past 20 years. He says about his work: “I see paleontology as ‘adventure with a purpose.’ How else to describe a science that allows you to romp in remote corners of the globe, resurrecting gargantuan creatures that have never been seen?”
“In paleontology, I saw an irresistible combination of travel, adventure, art, biology and geology.”
…his team made the startling discovery of the remains of a 40-foot crocodile-the world’s largest-dubbed SuperCroc.
A native of Naperville, Ill., Paul Sereno attended Northern Illinois University and received his doctorate from Columbia University and New York’s American Museum of National History. In 1987,he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he teaches paleontology and evolution to graduate and undergraduate students and human anatomy to medical students.
In 1999, Dr. Sereno, along with educator Gabrielle Lyon, founded Project Exploration, a nonprofit organization that gives minority youth and girls the opportunity to experience the excitement of science and discovery. Project Exploration has engaged thousands of Chicago-area teachers and inner-city students in doing science.
Dr. Sereno does his science around the world. In Africa’s Sahara Desert, his team made the startling discovery of the remains of a 40-foot crocodile-the world’s largest-dubbed SuperCroc. Sereno has brought this ancient predator back to life in books and videos. Other finds include the earliest known dinosaurs (found in South America) and the first pterosaur (flying reptile) found in Africa.
Recently switching from paleontology to archaeology, Sereno’s team found a large cemetery in the Sahara that was in use 5,000-10,000 years ago. Along with hundreds of human skeletons, remains of plants and animals show that the area was lush and green, not the dry desert it is today.
Paul Sereno has won many prestigious awards including the Chicago Tribune’s Teacher of the Year Award, the Boston Museum of Science’s Walker Prize for extraordinary contributions in paleontology, and Columbia University’s University Medal for Excellence.
“I see paleontology as ‘adventure with a purpose.’ How else to describe a science that allows you to romp in remote corners of the globe, resurrecting gargantuan creatures that have never been seen? And the trick to big fossil finds? You’ve got to be able to go where no one has gone before.”