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Dive into the origin and extinction of dinosaurs, learn how to become a paleontologist, and more with world-renowned paleontologists, museum curators, and National Park Service rangers!
Q&A sessions will directly follow each seminar.


Mondays, 7:15pm eastern time via Zoom

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The Fossil Freestyle - Paleontology Seminar Series was developed by Mateusz Wosik, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology at Misericordia University, to add value to his BIO 299: When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth course in the Fall 2022 semester and to make paleontology more accessible to the local northeast Pennsylvania community and beyond.

Mateusz Wosik, Ph.D.


Fossil Freestyle

Fall 2022 Schedule of Events

  • September 26, 2022 – Michael J. Ryan, Ph.D.
  • October 3, 2022 – Karen Poole, Ph.D.
  • October 10, 2022 – Ashley Poust, Ph.D.
  • October 17, 2022 – Frank Varriale, Ph.D.
  • October 24, 2022 – Cary Woodruff, Ph.D.
  • Break
  • November 14, 2022 – ReBecca Hunt-Foster
  • November 21, 2022 – Jingmai O’Connor, Ph.D.
  • November 28, 2022 – Thomas Williamson, Ph.D.

Event Details

September 26, 2022
Michael J. Ryan, Ph.D., Adjunct Research Professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Michael J. Ryan, Ph.D.

The Horned Dinosaurs of North America

Talk Description: Horns & Shields – The original Heavy Metal Warriors!

Bio: Ryan has been dinosaur paleontologist for more than 40 years, having lead or co-lead expeditions in Canada, United States, Mongolia, Greenland, South America and Africa. In addition to authoring more than 200 research papers, he has described more than 20 new dinosaur species and other fossil vertebrates.

October 3, 2022
Karen Poole, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, New York Institute of Technology

Karen Poole, Ph.D.

Thumbs up! Iguanodontians and Career Paths in Paleontology

Bio: Poole grew up in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, and started volunteering on paleontological excavations with the Arizona Museum of Natural History as a teenager. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Biology from the George Washington University. Since then, she has been teaching human anatomy to medical students and continuing research on ornithopod and iguanodontian dinosaurs.

October 10, 2022
Ashley Poust, Ph.D., James R Colclough Post-doctoral Fellow, San Diego Natural History Museum

Ashley Poust, Ph.D.

Taphonomy – Reading the Laws of Burial

Talk Description: From crime scenes to climate change, understanding how things got the way they are is difficult, but for fossils we have a whole discipline that can help us out - Taphonomy.

Bio: A paleontologist at the San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) focused on vertebrates and evolutionary biology, Poust examines ancient life through anatomy, bone and egg microstructure, and biogeography. His work has been featured in Scientific American, Smithsonian Magazine, Newsweek, National Public Radio, and many media outlets. Having received his doctorate from UC Berkley, Poust is currently the James R. Colclough Paleontology Postdoctoral Researcher at The Nat. You can join the conversation with him on Twitter at @ashpoust and with The Nat at @sdnhm.

October 17, 2022
Frank Varriale, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, King’s College

Frank Varriale, Ph.D.

How Horned-Dinosaurs Chewed their Food: The Tale from Tiny Tooth Scratches

Talk Description: Tiny scratches on teeth (called dental microwear) that formed when these dinosaurs were alive record the action of the jaw as it moved to chew the food these animals ate, and by comparing these scratches in different ceratopsians we can see how their chewing behavior evolved to become more complex.

Bio: Varriale grew up near Saratoga, NY, and attended SUNY Oswego for his B.S. in Zoology, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for his M.S. in Paleontology, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for his Ph.D. in Functional Anatomy and Evolution.

Frank Varriale, Ph.D.

October 24, 2022
Cary Woodruff, Ph.D.

Cary Woodruff, Ph.D.

Sauropods: Titans of the Mesozoic

Talk Description: What's up to 120 feet long, has a 40-foot trachea, stomped around on 4 column-like limbs, came from an egg the size of a cantaloupe, weighed ~50 tons, ate nothing but plants, and was chronologically one of the most successful groups of dinosaurs?–the sauropods.

Bio: Woodruff’s area of specialization, is dedicated to the sauropod dinosaurs. From understanding their growth, to the anatomy and physics of these titans, to even naming new species, his work is helping to better understand the life histories and evolutionary strategies of this iconic group of dinosaurs.

November 14, 2022
ReBecca Hunt-Foster, Paleontologist and Museum Curator, Dinosaur National Monument

ReBecca Hunt - Foster, Ph.D.

Managing and Protecting the Paleontological Resources of Dinosaur National Monument

Talk Description: The Jurassic-aged dinosaur fossils of Dinosaur National Monument are well known, but there is more than just the charismatic megafauna to be found!

Bio: Hunt-Foster is the Monument Paleontologist and Museum Curator at Dinosaur National Monument. She holds a Master of Science in Geology (emphasizing in Vertebrate Paleontology) from Texas Tech University, and has a Bachelor’s of Science in Earth Science from the University of Arkansas. Her current research includes Early Cretaceous ornithomimosaurs from North America, the Upper Cretaceous Williams Fork Formation paleofauna of western Colorado and eastern Utah, the ichnofauna of the lower-middle Jurassic rocks of eastern Utah.

ReBecca Hunt - Foster, Ph.D.

November 21, 2022
Jingmai O’Connor, Ph.D., Associate Curator of Fossil Reptiles, Chicago Field Museum of Natural History

Jingmai O’Connor, Ph.D.

The Evolution of Dinosaurian Flight

Talk Description: How scientists discovered that birds are flying dinosaurs... but not the only dinosaurs that evolved flight!

Bio: O’Connor’s research focuses on the Mesozoic evolution of birds and other flying dinosaurs. In particular, she is interested in understanding how early birds evolved into the incredibly specialized animals we see around us today.

November 28, 2022
Tom Williamson, Ph.D., Curator of Paleontology, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Thomas Williamson, Ph.D.

The Demise of the Dinosaurs – the End Cretaceous Mass Extinction

Talk Description: The Cretaceous came to an end with a really, really bad day. A mountain traveling at 50,000 miles an hour slammed into the Yucatan.

Bio: Williamson is a curator of paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. His research has focused on the geologic and paleontologic record crossing the K-Pg boundary in the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico, especially looking at the rise of mammals in the early Paleocene.

Thomas Williamson, Ph.D.