Renowned paleontologist Matt Lamanna ’97 will give the keynote address during Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ 2019 Convocation ceremony, which marks the official start of the academic year. Live stream the event here.
“It is so exciting to welcome back to campus Matt Lamanna, who has been at the forefront of paleontological research since his graduation,” says President Joyce P. Jacobsen. “As I explore HWS during my first year, I can think of no better way to start the academic year than hearing from one of our esteemed alums who has devoted his life to exploring some of the most fascinating creatures ever to roam the Earth.”
An Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Lamanna also serves as the museum’s principal dinosaur researcher, studying dinosaurs, birds and crocodilians from the Cretaceous Period, the third and final time period of the Mesozoic Era, or the “Age of Dinosaurs.” He is the lead scientific adviser for the museum’s “Dinosaurs in Their Time” exhibit, which includes the nation’s third largest display of mounted original dinosaur skeletons.
A pivotal contributor to the understanding of how dinosaurs and their environments evolved through time, Lamanna is one of the very few paleontologists in history to have found fossils of these animals on all seven continents. His research has received coverage in many major national and international publications and programs, including CNN, The New York Times, NPR, the BBC, National Geographic, the Associated Press and the journal Science.
After graduating with High Honors and a B.S. in geoscience and biology, Lamanna studied dinosaur paleontology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania where he earned his M.S. and Ph.D.
While pursuing his Ph.D., Lamanna went on an expedition to Egypt in search of a lost dinosaur site first found in 1911. It was there that Lamanna and collaborators discovered Paralititan stromeri (“tidal giant”), a gigantic new species of sauropod, or long-necked plant-eating dinosaur.
The discovery in 2000 was the first of many and led to a study 18 years later that detailed the 2013 find of another new sauropod from the Egyptian Western Desert, Mansourasaurus shahinae. Lamanna and coauthors wrote that Mansourasaurus is the most completely known dinosaur from the last 30 million years of the Mesozoic Era in Africa. He told USA Today that “the discovery was ‘the culmination of a search that’s occupied almost half my life.’”
Originally from Waterloo, N.Y., where he still has many family and friends, Lamanna has visited campus for public lectures, was featured on WEOS and gave a presentation in the President’s Forum Series to share his global expeditions and discoveries.
The Convocation ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 26 on Stern Lawn.