Speaking Engagement

To book Paul Sereno for a lecture or personal appearance, please send us a message. For more information visit the Speaking Engagement page.

Exhibit Rentals and Fossil Casts

Paul Sereno's interactive, interdisciplinary exhibits showcase the dinosaurs and other fossils he has discovered around the world. Ranging in size from 1,500 to 10,000 square feet, the exhibits include Spinosaurus, Lost Giant of the CretaceousAfrica's Dinosaur Giants, Origins—The Dawn of Dinosaurs,  and The Science of SuperCroc.

To Purchase replicas or reconstructions of Paul Sereno's amazing fossil discoveries, please send us a message.

How to become a paleontologist

Interested in a career in paleontology? Check out this guide to Frequently Asked Questions!

General Inquiry

Hi there!

Thank you for your interest in my work and in paleontology in general. Fossils vividly capture time and fascinate kids and adults alike. Paleontology is a field that is growing in interest. Each year brings more fossil discoveries and new museums—and thus more opportunities for paleoartists, fossil technicians of many kinds, educators, and researchers.

In case you are interested in pursuing paleontology, as a youngster you can fashion science projects at school related to paleontology or evolution, attend summer programs or digs, or volunteer at a local museum. Use your hobbies to extend your knowledge and experience with plants or animals. My introduction to science, for example, was collecting insects and leaves and learning about their characteristics and scientific names.

If you want to pursue paleontology as a profession, there are two very general pathways—(1) to work as an artist or lab technician or (2) to teach and/or to do research. In the track 1, there are many opportunities in art and graphics, especially with the advent of digital imaging via CT scanning and animation programs. Fossils need to be imaged, drawn, cleaned and stabilized, stored, and copied. These activities provide opportunities for graphic artists, preparators, and collections staff.  A college degree may not be required but often gives you an advantage. In some cases, a masters program in digital imaging or museum studies is needed.

Pursuing track 2—to teach or do research—almost always involves college followed by a graduate degree (masters, doctoral). In college a basic background in science is needed—including math, physics, chemistry, statistics, biology and geology. Other subjects that may be quite helpful are anthropology and studio art. Writing courses are also important, because you need to be a good writer to succeed in an academic setting. Remember that deficiencies in any of these areas can be filled in during your first year of graduate school. Colleges that have graduate programs in paleontology often provide opportunities to engage for undergraduates.

Getting into a graduate program to earn a Ph. D. is challenging, and that goal can be achieved in several ways. It can happen by application immediately after college, after taking a year off to focus and prepare, or after getting your feet wet in a masters program. Graduate programs are most interested in your original research capability—and so what you can show in terms of grades, research projects, field or museum experiences, or initial publications helps make your case. Attending a national meeting to see what is happening and talk to students is an excellent way to envision your career.

On a personal note, I attended a state university (NIU) and majored in biology with a lot of interest in studio art. I took only one paleontology course as an undergraduate. I pursued a senior thesis with a lot of energy and was able to submit my paper with my application to graduate schools to show that I was capable of independent research. For graduate research, one must independently pursue a topic, review evidence related to particular questions, gather and analyze data, and draw conclusions.

Here at the University of Chicago, I am one of several vertebrate paleontologists in the Dept. of Organismal Biology. There are also several paleontologists in Geophysical Sciences and at The Field Museum—collectively more paleontologists than anywhere else.  All of us come together in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology.

We accept applications each year and then select the best applicants in the pool.  Acceptance is not governed by field or openings in particular labs; we try to select the best applicants based on (1) prior research, (2) test scores & grades, (3) recommendations and (4) your personal statement. In our department, we have very active research in the fields of phylogenetics (fossil and recent animals), functional morphology, and theoretical paleobiology (evolutionary patterns). My own research has involved several of these areas (http://paulsereno.uchicago.edu/research/publications/).

All monies generated directly support expeditions and ongoing research in Paul Sereno's Fossil Lab.

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