Dinosaur hunter provides CCCC students glimpse of exciting career
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Dr. Lindsay Zanno, Director of the Paleontology Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural ... (more)
SANFORD - In her hunt for new species of North American dinosaurs, Dr. Lindsay Zanno dispels the romantic myths surrounding archeological treasure hunters like the fictional Indiana Jones. Her digs in the Utah Badlands are anything but romantic as she and her co-scientists spend four grueling weeks in an inhospitable wilderness unable to take a bath or enjoy the amenities of indoor plumbing. But the excitement of finding a new species of dinosaur, as Zanno did, more than make up for the discomfort.
Zanno spoke to Central Carolina Community College students recently about her career as Director of the Paleontology Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. The lecture was the first in what is planned to be a series of lectures sponsored by CCCC's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education program designed to peak student interest in pursuing science and mathematical careers.
"We really want to get students interested in science and math courses and point out their importance for future careers," said Talia Friday, coordinator of academic assistance for the STEM program at CCCC. "That is why we created this lecture series, to bring in people who are actually engaged in careers related to these fields."
Zanno, who is also an assistant research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University, said dinosaurs were not the slow creatures many people believe them to be. "They were very intelligent animals and they are not extinct," she said. "One dinosaur survived the mass extinction event 66 million years ago and is still alive today - birds. There are about 10,000 species of birds that are living, breathing dinosaurs."
Although Zanno's research focuses on several aspects of paleontology, her prime focus is explaining complex transitional ecology during the evolution of theropod dinosaurs - a group that includes the iconic T-Rex as well as living birds. Zanno has described numerous species of North American dinosaurs, including Siats Meekerorum, which she discovered in 2008. Siats is one of the largest mega-predators ever discovered on the continent.
"As paleontologists, we have a unique perspective on long-term change, which is important because we live on a dynamic, changing planet," said Zanno. "By studying these changes and revealing how they have shaped our past, we can better predict the future of our world."
The STEM lab is an extension of academic assistance, Friday explained. Its goal is to assist students specifically with meeting the rigorous challenges posed by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics course work. The STEM lab also seeks to keep students engaged by offering workshops, study and review sessions, as well as other events such as the planned speaker series in conjunction with the CCCC Department of Math, Science and Wellness.
For more information on the STEM lab at CCCC, please visit the website at www.cccc.edu/studentservices/stem/.
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