Surely not the only science career based on a museum tour epiphany, Paul Sereno's is almost certainly the most triumphant. He's dug up dinosaurs on five continents — and discovered the world's largest crocodile, the (extinct) 40-foot Sarchosuchus.
Why you should listen
Paul Sereno sees paleontology as "adventure with a purpose." How else, after all, to describe a science that "allows you to romp in remote corners of the globe, resurrecting gargantuan creatures that have never been seen?" His travels in the search for the bones of ancient reptiles and birds have taken him through India, Argentina, Mongolia and, most fruitfully, the 125-degrees-Farenheit Saraha Desert, where he uncovered the giant skeletons of several 30-plus-foot meat-eaters and a few yet-larger prehistoric vegetarians.
Sereno is also president and co-founder of Project Exploration, an organization which aims to bring the wonders of science professions to the public -- especially minority youth and girls. He teaches at the University of Chicago and is one of National Geographic's Explorers-in-Residence.
What others say
“The door to the lecture room at the university swings open and Dr. Sereno -- in jeans, a West African charm necklace and one turquoise earring -- strides to the front, grinning broadly at his adulatory audience. Jaws fall open, revealing braces on teeth, and a few hands shoot up with burning questions ...” — Brenda Fowler, New York Times