By Carolyn Belardo
The Academy has appointed Kenneth Lacovara as its paleontology fellow to promote research and education in paleontology to museum visitors, members and stakeholders.
Lacovara, PhD, is professor of paleontology and geology at Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences. In September he made international headlines when he announced the discovery and description of a new supermassive dinosaur species with the most complete skeleton ever found of its type.
Lacovara discovered the fossil skeleton in southern Patagonia in Argentina and led its excavation and analysis. He named it Dreadnoughtus schrani.
The paleontology fellow, a three-year honorific position, will collaborate with the Academy to develop and implement exhibits, museum programming and outreach efforts in paleontology, especially dinosaur paleontology. He also will have access to the Academy’s research facilities and vast specimen collection.
Academy President and CEO George W. Gephart, Jr. said there is a great synergy with the Academy’s programming and outreach efforts and Lacovara’s keen ability to engage the public through his research on dinosaurs and New Jersey fossils.
“It’s important to us to communicate the latest dinosaur science, and Ken is a wonderful communicator,” Gephart said. “We look forward to collaborating on both our research and education endeavors.”
Lacovara already has deep roots at the Academy. He is a research associate and has led numerous dinosaur digs that involved Dinosaur Hall Coordinator Jason Poole, who was part of the team that excavated Dreadnoughtus.
“Dinosaur paleontology began in the United States at the Academy of Natural Sciences. It’s great to be part of that rich legacy,” Lacovara said. “I hope to use the near universal fascination with dinosaurs as a way to engage the public in the process of science and to help contextualize the human experience on our planet.”
Lacovara’s research is focused on the paleontological reconstruction of Mesozoic Era environments containing the remains of dinosaurs and other vertebrate animals. He also is among the first wave of paleontologists to begin using modern 3-D scanning and 3-D printing methods in research.
He has been a member of the Bahariya Dinosaur project, working in the Egyptian Sahara, and a collaborative project studying the evolution of Cretaceous ornithurine birds from China.
Locally, Lacovara and students collaborate on a study of the Cretaceous fauna of southern New Jersey and are working with local township officials to preserve the site as a fossil park.
Next time you’re at the Academy, stop by the Fossil Prep Lab in Dinosaur Hall and see the dinosaur fossils our technicians are freeing from the rocks.