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.