John Hankla

Science Communicator, HHMI LiveScience Correspondent, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Now in his 26th consecutive field season discovering fossils in the American West, John Hankla found his passion for dinosaur fossils at a very early age.  Wandering a friend's Wyoming ranch on a hot day in 1991,  wearing nothing but his Air Jordans, boxer shorts and a pair of flip-shades,  he discovered a fossil bone from an Edmontosaurus and his questions about america's last dinosaurs have been driving him through life ever since. Questions about his wardrobe choices remain, sadly, un-investigated. During Graduate school at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History in Boulder, John started the Dinosaur Discovery Adventure field-school as a way to inspire the next generation of paleontologists to make their own discoveries. He believes that the world is in need of more scientifically literate individuals and that hands-on education is the best way to ensure that they develop. He works with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science's paleontology field team (denverpaleo.org) in localities from Montana to New Mexico, contributing to research that is uncovering the history of Western North America during the time of Dinosaurs. In the off-season, his company (thecollectivecollection.org) helps museums around the world build exhibits interpreting paleontological discoveries. When he's not setting up skeletons in museum galleries, digging for fossils in the badlands, or speaking to students about careers in field science, John can be found with his best friends (a border collie named Kit and a woman named Cat) on Colorado's high peaks enjoying backcountry snowboarding, alpine mountaineering and camping in their Sheltowee hammocks.