TED Fellow Lauren Sallan is a "next generation" paleobiologist applying cutting-edge developments in big data analytics to reveal how evolution happens at the largest scales (macroevolution), particularly in the oceans.

Why you should listen

Lauren Sallan uses the vast fossil record of fishes as a deep time database, mining to find out why some species persist and diversify while others die off. She has used these methods to discover the lost, largest, "sixth" mass extinction of vertebrates, the end-Devonian Hangenberg event (359 million years ago), reveal how fish heads changed first during their rise to dominance, test why some species thrive after global disruptions while others flounder and show how invasions by new predators can shift prey diversity at global scales.

Sallan is the Martin Meyerson assistant professor in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, became a TED Fellow in 2017 and a TED Senior Fellow in 2019. Her research has been published in high-profile venues such as Science, Nature, PNAS and Current Biology. It has also been featured by the New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, BBC, Forbes, New Scientist, Discovery Channel and the recent popular science book The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen (Harper Collins, 2017).

More news and ideas from Lauren Sallan

Live from TEDSummit 2019

10 years of TED Fellows: Notes from the Fellows Session of TEDSummit 2019

July 22, 2019

The event: TEDSummit 2019, Fellows Session, hosted by Shoham Arad and Lily Whitsitt When and where: Monday, July 22, 2019, 9am BST, at the Edinburgh Convention Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland Speakers: Carl Joshua Ncube, Suzanne Lee, Sonaar Luthra, Jon Lowenstein, Alicia Eggert, Lauren Sallan, Laura Boykin Opening: A quick, witty performance from Carl Joshua Ncube, […]

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Live from TED2017

Gallery: Who won the evolutionary race in our oceans?

April 25, 2017

TED Fellow Lauren Sallan is a paleobiologist who analyzes “big data” — the fossil record — to study large-scale evolution. As she says: “I want to know why some fishes win and others lose.” Here’s the story of her talk, in amazing work from illustrator and animator Dennis Moore.    

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