Meet the Team


Dr. Lindsay Zanno

Project Director, Cretaceous Creatures

Head of Paleontology, NCMNS

Associate Research Professor, NCSU

Dr. Lindsay E. Zanno is one of the world’s leading experts on the evolution of theropod dinosaurs—a group that includes the iconic predator T. rex and Velociraptor, as well as living birds. The hunt for new dinosaurs has taken her around the world and across the American West, from where she has discovered more than a dozen new species, including the megapredator Siats, and Moros, North America’s tiniest tyrannosaur. Zanno’s research regularly garners worldwide media attention. Her work has been recognized as Nature World News’ Top Dinosaur Stories, Discover Magazine’s top 100 Science Stories, and Discover Magazine’s Year in Science Top Research, and has been featured by notables such as the Science Channel, History Channel, National Geographic, CBC, PBS, NPR, NHK, Nova, and the BBC, among many others. She was recently recognized with the Eighteenth International Award in Palaeontological Research (Paleonturology 20), and received two top 100 author recognitions from Nature Publishing Group. Zanno actively works to build transparency in science. She served as Science Advocate for the Walking With Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular, on-air host for The Ice Age Exhibition, and she currently presides over The Jurassic Foundation, a non-profit, grant funding organization supporting dinosaur research around the globe.  She also leads several public engagement projects including the real-time social media platform—Expedition Live! connecting the public with paleontologists in the field, and the newly launched Dueling Dinosaurs and Cretaceous Creatures projects. Zanno’s published impact ranges from top science journals such as Nature to everyday Tweets, and includes >200 technical works and more than a dozen popular publications. To date, her lab has received over $7M in direct funding for research and education.

Dr. Elizabeth Jones

Project Manager, Cretaceous Creatures, NCMNS

Postdoctoral Researcher, NCSU

Dr. Elizabeth D. Jones is the Project Coordinator for Cretaceous Creatures at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and Postdoctoral Researcher at NC State University. and is a Historian of Science and author of the book Ancient DNA: The Making of a Celebrity Science (Yale University Press). Her research focuses on the historical, philosophical, and sociological aspects of the scientific process to better understand how science happens and how it impacts society. Throughout her career,  she has had first-hand experience working with paleontologists and geneticists in both the field and the lab in the US, UK, and Europe. Jones also has experience working with the public from managing paleontology volunteer programs to teaching summer educational programs. Prior to working as the Cretaceous Creatures Coordinator, Jones was a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at NC State University and Project Manager for a NSF grant to create a Data Ethics Toolkit for the Participatory Sciences in partnership with the Citizen Science Association. Her job now is dedicated to building collaborations between paleontologists, educators, students, and sponsors, then bringing together the scientific, technical, educational, and ethical dimensions required to make Cretaceous Creatures a successful public science project.

Dr. Thomas Cullen

Former Project Coordinator, Cretaceous Creatures, NCMNS

Associate Professor, Auburn University

Dr. Thomas M. Cullen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Auburn University. Previously, Cullen was a NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at Carleton University (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at NC State University, and Project Coordinator of the Cretaceous Creatures at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. His research focuses on understanding how dinosaur-dominated ecosystems were structured and how they responded to environmental change. He also studies the evolution, growth, and biodiversity of theropod dinosaurs. Prior to working with NCMNS, he was a postdoc at the Field Museum in Chicago, where he researched dinosaur growth, was a primary scientific consultant on the Field Museum’s permanent exhibit about’ SUE the T. rex’, and assisted in developing informal learning programs. He has performed field research looking for dinosaurs and other fossils on multiple continents, in both polar regions, and across western North America. In addition to this, he is involved in numerous educational and public outreach programs. His work with NCMNS and Cretaceous Creatures involved the development of research and education components of the project, and in particular the fossil ID guides for the Late Cretaceous microfossil bonebeds used in the project, along with the the research workflow for finding, collecting, and processing microfossil assemblages for use by participants.

Haviv Avrahami

Former Research Assistant, Cretaceous Creatures, NCMNS

PhD Student, NCSU

Haviv Avrahami is a PhD student at NC State University and NC Museum of Natural Sciences. He has a broad interest in the anatomy, paleobiology, ontogeny, and phylogeny of ornithischian dinosaurs and is describing a new (possibly burrowing) plant eating dinosaur from the middle Cretaceous period. He is passionate about engaging in opportunities to share paleontology with the public, specifically middle-school and high-school students from disenfranchised and underprivileged backgrounds. He hopes to present science as a tangible, realistic, and attainable career path for students with unconventional educational backgrounds, especially those facing adversity. Avrahami’s role in Cretaceous Creatures includes collecting the truckloads worth of microfossil rich sediment from Montana each summer and driving it back to NC, where he screenwashes the material down to a more manageable quantity for students to search through for microfossils. Avrahami helped build the architecture of the fossil decision tree pathway and other aspects of the fossil identification process. He used a combination of photogrammetry, advanced microscopy, and nano CT-scanning to create the high resolution images and 3D models of microfossils used throughout the online modules, website, and lesson plans. He also produced many of the digital art renderings used throughout the program. Additionally, Avrahami is responsible for cataloging and verifying the fossil identifications made by students during the program that will result in an original scientific database for paleontologists to study.

John Kanipe

Research Assistant, Cretaceous Creatures, NCMNS

MS Student, NCSU

John Kanipe is a MS Student at NC State University and NC Museum of Natural Sciences. His research interests include evolutionary ecology and a systems approach to paleobiology. He is also interested in the philosophy of science and student learning, particularly how students learn and think about fossils. Prior to joining the Cretaceous Creatures team, John earned his MA in Science Education from NC State and has used his background to help align the goals of the Cretaceous Creatures Project with learning objectives from the NC Essential Science Standards. Currently, he is Research Assistant, verifying the identifications of hundreds of microfossils that students have identified and returned to the museum. He has also participated in three field seasons, including the Hell Creek Formation, Montana, where he will help collect hundreds of pounds of fossil-rich sediment to be used in classrooms across the state, country, and beyond.

Middle School Partners


A.L. Stanback Middle SchoolMartin Millennium Academy
A.C. Reynolds Middle SchoolMills Park Middle School
Avery Middle SchoolMineral Springs Middle School
Broad Creek Middle SchoolMorehead City Middle School
Cabarrus Virtual AcademyNewport Middle School
Cane River Middle SchoolNorth Carolina Cyber Academy
Carolina International SchoolNorth Davie Middle School
Centennial Campus Magnet Middle SchoolNortheastern Randolph Middle School
Chicod SchoolOcracoke Middle School
Contentnea-Savannah K-8 SchoolPerquimans County Middle School
Coulwood STEM AcademyProspect Elementary School
Douglas Byrd Middle SchoolReid Ross Classical Middle School
EB Aycock Middle SchoolRiverwood Middle School
Endeavor Charter Middle SchoolSampson Middle School
Exploris Middle SchoolSmith Middle School
Fuquay-Varina Middle SchoolSouth Stanly Middle School
Gaston Virtual AcademySpring Lake Middle School
Girls Leadership Academy of WilmingtonSt. Pauls Middle School
Harold Winkler Middle SchoolThe Downtown School
Hawbridge SchoolTurrentine Middle School
Herbert Akins Road Middle SchoolUnion Preparatory Academy at Indian Trail
Hickory Ridge MiddleWalkertown Middle School
Hope Middle SchoolWayne School of Engineering
J. E. Holmes Middle SchoolWestern Alamance Middle School
James E. Shepard IB Magnet Middle SchoolWestern Rockingham Middle School
Luther Nick Jeralds Middle SchoolWinston Salem Preparatory Academy


A.L Stanback Middle SchoolLake Lure Classical Academy
Alston Ridge Middle SchoolLake Norman Charter Middle School
Avery Middle SchoolLewisville Middle
Ayden Middle SchoolMacon Middle School
Beulaville Elementary SchoolMadison Middle School
Cape Fear Middle SchoolMagnolia Elementary
Cape Hatteras Secondary SchoolMartin Middle School
Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School Center for InnovationMidway Middle School
Central Davidson Middle SchoolMorehead City Middle School
Central Park School for ChildrenMount Pleasant Middle School
Central Wilkes Middle SchoolNewport Middle School
Chase Middle SchoolNorth Garner Middle School
Chinquapin Elementary SchoolNortheast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies
Cuthbertson Middle SchoolOrange Middle School
East McDowell Middle SchoolPerquimans County Middle School
Enka Middle SchoolPine Hollow Middle School
Faith Academy Charter SchoolPolk County Middle School
Franklinton Middle SchoolRiverwood Middle School
Gaston Virtual AcademyRoxboro Community School
Granite Falls Middle SchoolSmith Middle School
Hamlet Middle SchoolSmokey Mountain Elementary
Hardin Park SchoolSt. Timothy’s School
Harold Winkler Middle SchoolSwift Creek Middle School
Harris Middle SchoolThe Catamount School
Hertford County Middle SchoolThe Franciscan School
Hobbton Middle SchoolThe North Carolina Leadership Academy
Holly Shelter Middle SchoolThomas Jefferson Middle School
Hudson Middle SchoolUnion Prepartory Academy at Indian Trail
IC ImagineVoyager Academy Middle School
J. E. Holmes Middle SchoolWalkertown Middle School
Jamestown Middle SchoolWest Stanly Middle School
Kenansville Elementary SchoolWest Wilkes Middle School
Kings Creek SchoolWestern Alamance Middle School

Website Designers

Liam Elward created the artwork of the animals and environment of the Hell Creek Formation.

Emi Bender contributed to the website’s visual design elements.

NC State University’s Design & Web Services developed the website and online modules.

Funding Partners