Our team of experts
As far back as he can remember, Anthony R. Fiorillo, Ph.D., wanted to do one of two things professionally: play center field for the New York Yankees or study dinosaurs. Much to the detriment of his parents’ retirement plans, he studies dinosaurs. He was born and raised in the northeast, received his bachelor of science from the University of Connecticut and his master of science from the University of Nebraska. He completed his Ph.D. work in vertebrate paleontology at the University of Pennsylvania, became the Rea Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and then a museum scientist at the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California-Berkeley.
Since 1995 Dr. Fiorillo has been the Curator of Earth Sciences at the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas. Though he has collected fossils throughout North America and parts of Asia, he has primarily worked in western Texas and Alaska. For him, the appeal of fieldwork in Alaska is the result of the combination of intellectual pursuit and the rigors of working in the Arctic environment.
Dr. Fiorillo is also an adjunct associate professor at Southern Methodist University in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences. He chaired, co-chaired and served on the Education Committee of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology from 1996-2004. His work in over a dozen units of the National Park Service has earned national recognition. He was named a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2008. Dr. Fiorillo has published over 100 scientific and popular papers.
Ronald S. Tykoski, Ph.D., started on his paleontological career as a child, collecting fossils of brachiopods and corals from nearby farm fields in this home state of Michigan. During college at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, he met his wife while they both worked as docents at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. He also worked in the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology, where he first learned fossil preparation skills and methods. Dr. Tykoski began graduate studies in geological sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where he focused on determining details of the anatomy, growth patterns, and evolutionary relationships of early meat-eating dinosaurs (theropods) and their kin. He earned a Master of Science degree in 1998 and a Ph.D. in 2005, before joining the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (at that time the Dallas Museum of Natural History) as the museum’s fossil preparator that same year.
Dr. Tykoski’s recent work has mostly focused upon supporting the research of Chief Curator Dr. Tony Fiorillo and his studies of high-latitude, Late Cretaceous dinosaur communities in Alaska. “Some of the more spectacular projects I’ve overseen here have been the preparation of the skull of the ceratopsian dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum from Alaska, the description and naming of North America’s oldest fossil bird Flexomornis howei from Grapevine, Texas, and the preparation of the Museum’s series of huge neck vertebrae of the giant sauropod dinosaur Alamosaurus sanjuanensis from Big Bend National Park.”
While doing all of this, Dr. Tykoski continues his work on early theropod dinosaur relationships and evolution, and is a Research Associate at the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory of The University of Texas at Austin. “More importantly,” he adds, “my wife and I managed to find time to have two wonderful children who still find it cool that Dad gets to work on dinosaurs every day.”
Mark J. Pospisil, Acting Curator of Minerals
Mark has been interested in minerals and fossils since he was 11 years old, after his first visit to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. During high school, he spent many weekends collecting fluorescent minerals or fossils from various localities around New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. While attending college in Arizona, he would travel into the desert to visit old mines to collect crystals. Over the last 30 years, he has built an extensive personal collection with over 2,000 aesthetic and fluorescent minerals from all over the world. He has always had a keen interest in educating the public about the geological sciences and the beauty of natural minerals. For seven years he had many minerals specimens on loan to the Museum of Nature & Science in Fair Park and currently has 25 pieces on display in the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall in the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Mark received a bachelor of science in geology from Arizona State University, and later an MBA from the University of Dallas. After 34 years in the oil and gas industry, he recently retired from XTO Energy in Fort Worth, now a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp., where he was the senior vice president of geology and geophysics. He is married with four children and has lived in northeast Tarrant County for almost 30 years.