Citizen Science and Public Engagement


The Zanno Lab is housed in the Paleontology Research Lab at the Nature Research Wing of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences


Zanno teaches middle school students at the 2015 RTP STEM Expo how to create 3D digital models of fossils

We are committed to sharing our science.

The Zanno Lab is proud to partner with an amazing team of scientists and educators dedicated to the idea that sustainable science involves public discovery. We demonstrate this commitment every day at our home base, The Paleontology Research Lab in the newly constructed Nature Research Center, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Our glass-walled lab is on exhibit to more than one million visitors a year, putting active research on display.  Our staff and students give behind-the-scenes tours to thousands of people annually and “Meet-The-Scientist” talks live in the Daily Planet Theater at the Nature Research Center.  We also serve as an online science communication hub, bringing our research and expeditions live from the field through our blogs, photos, and videos at our companion website: and our Twitter feed @expeditionlive.  Want to talk to our scientists directly from the field?  We live stream back to the museum from our field site to give you real time updates on our expeditions.  You can check the museum’s Daily Planet schedule for opportunities to hear about our research live and talk to members of the lab.


Daily planet presentations allow us to share groundbreaking research and field discoveries as they are happening


One on one engagement with local teachers

Not only do our staff and students give year round presentations and behind-the-scenes lab tours to public audiences, we’re busy creating paleontology-focused citizen science projects as part of Students Discover, a National Science Foundation sponsored effort to engage primary school students in authentic scientific research.

Shark Teeth Forensics, the lab’s pilot citizen science project is in its second year of implementation.  This summer our the project scaled to another 40 classrooms around the state.  Shark Teeth Forensics involves discovering and measuring fossil shark teeth to determine preservational biases in the fossil record, and reconstruct the body size of extinct sharks.  You can find more information about the project and download lesson plans at the Students Discover webpage, or follow our Twitter feed @SDteamJaws.


Our first citizen science project, Shark Teeth Forensics, scales to 40 classrooms around the state of North Carolina


Collecting authentic data as part of Shark Teeth Forensics


Kids make their own discoveries during Shark Teeth Forensics, one of the lab’s citizen science projects

A variety of volunteer opportunities are available from fossil preparation, fieldwork, and research opportunities, to museum outreach communicating science. Visit the Volunteer page at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to apply or contact Lisa Herzog @ for more information.  Contact Dr. Zanno @ to learn about student opportunities and for-credit internships.

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