The Negaunee Distinguished Service Curator
Integrative Research Center
Lance is a curatorial scientist in the Integrative Research Center who specializes in evolutionary biology and comparative anatomy. He has four major areas of research: one on the community paleoecology of North America during the early Cenozoic, particularly in Fossil Basin, Wyoming; another on the evolutionary biology and biogeography of ray-finned fishes; another on the comparative anatomy of vertebrates; and finally, one on the methods and philosophy of science.
Although the bulk of his work has been global in scope, including work in 15 countries, he has had a particularly active field program in the famous Green River Formation of Wyoming for more than three decades and is a leading authority for this region. His collecting activities and collaborations with other museums around the world have helped make The Field Museum’s fossil fish collection one of the two largest in North America, and one of the four largest in the world.
After decades of publishing almost exclusively for scientists and graduate students, he recently broadened his target audience to better communicate the importance of science to the general public. He currently sees science communication as an underserved area of growing importance in the United States and believes that senior scientists can make uniquely important contributions for the future good of the profession and society in general.
Lance has also been teaching a field paleontology course each year since 2004 through the Graham School of the University of Chicago, called Stones & Bones. This summer course attracts students from all over the world and includes two weeks in Chicago and two weeks digging (and camping) in his Wyoming field site.
Lance has been a curator in the Paleontology division of The Field Museum since 1983. He was the elected Chair of the Museum's Science Advisory Council from 2001 through 2004, and Chair of The Field Museum Scholarship Committee (the Museum's main funding organization for visiting scientists) from 1986 through 2004. From 2004-2013, Lance served as Senior Vice President, Head of Research and Collections. In 2013, he was appointed by the board of trustees as the Museum’s first Distinguished Service Curator. He also holds the appointments of: Adjunct Professor of Biology at the University of Illinois, Lecturer at the University of Chicago, and Research Associate in the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He is on the Council for the Graham School of the University of Chicago, and on the University’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology. He represents The Field Museum on the board of the Chicago Council of Science and Technology, where he is Chair of its Programming Committee.
Videos and Other Resources
- Expedition videos from the Green River Formation in Wyoming
- "The Lost World of Fossil Lake" on WTTW Chicago Tonight
- Fossil Fish on The Brain Scoop
- The Grainger Hall of Gems on The Brain Scoop
- Is This the Hottest Year Ever? on The Good Stuff
- Chicago Council on Science and Technology
- Books published with the University of Chicago Press
- A.A. - General Business, Normandale Community College, 1973
- B.S. - Geology, University of Minnesota, 1976
- M.S. - Geology, University of Minnesota, 1979
- M.S. - Zoology, University of Minnesota, 1979
- M.Phil. - Biology, City University of New York, 1982
- Ph.D. - Evolutionary Biology, joint program of the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York, 1983.
- Fossil and living fishes
- Comparative anatomy
- Philosophy of science
- Phylogenetics and systematics