The Paleontology Research Laboratory (PRL) is a glass-walled, on-exhibit science lab located on the 3rd floor of the Nature Research Center, and funded by an innovative partnership between the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University (NCSU). The PRL serves as a new model for 21st century science, synthesizing active paleontological research, fieldwork, and citizen science programs, with graduate and undergraduate student training, K-12 education, teacher treks, and science communication efforts—all on display in front of museum visitors.

The Lab is directed by Dr. Lindsay Zanno, a vertebrate paleontologist with a joint position at the NCMNS and NCSU, who supervises its research focus, technical goals, field expeditions, and graduate program. Zanno Lab staff and students study the evolutionary history of Archosauria—the dominant terrestrial megafauna of the Mesozoic Era—including birds, crocodiles, and non-avian dinosaurs. The PRL is home to the Zanno Lab’s resident NCSU graduate students and postdoctoral researchers and hosts several NCSU courses taught by Zanno including Paleontological Field Methods and Archosaurian Anatomy.

PRL in-house technical capabilities include blue light and laser three-dimensional surface scanning, 3D printing, polarized microscopy, paleohistology, Computed Tomographic reconstruction software, and fossil specimen conservation/preparation facilities. You can follow along with PRL fieldwork at our social media platform, Expedition Live! or in real time on Twitter @Expeditionlive. Learn more about Dr. Zanno’s research program and the paleobiology graduate program at NC State University at the Zanno Lab website.

The PRL also serves as the preparation hub for the Paleontology Unit at the NCMNS, training and enlisting dozens of community volunteers in professional fossil conservation practice. Conservation standards and technical management of the lab is supervised by Lisa Herzog. Individuals interested in volunteering to learn the practice of fossil preparation should first contact Sarah Irizarry, Head of Volunteer and Intern Services, at sarah.irizarry@naturalsciences.org or 919.707.9880 and register as a Museum volunteer.

Want to support the Paleontology Research Lab? Donate to the Paleontology Research & Expedition Fund. Gifts to this fund directly support paleontological fieldwork and research at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, under the guidance of PGL Head, Dr. Lindsay Zanno.

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Fields of Research