Burpee expedition leader to speak May 6
For over a decade, Rockford’s Burpee Museum of Natural History has been conducting paleontological groundbreaking field work in the Western United States. This exciting chapter in Burpee’s history has led to major discoveries such as Jane, the world’s most complete juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex; Homer and the first Triceratops bone bed; and one of the largest dinosaur graveyards found in the last 40 years, the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry.
Burpee’s expedition leader, Scott Williams, will take you back to the initial discoveries, reconstruct the paleoenvironments of the late Jurassic and latest Cretaceous time periods, update you with Burpee’s ongoing research, and introduce you to the most recent research during a lecture at 2 p.m., Sunday, May 6.
The lecture is free to members, free with paid admission to the museum or $5 for the lecture only. Offsite parking is available at Stepping Stones.
Williams is the director of Exhibits and Science at Burpee Museum. He grew up in Stillman Valley, Ill., and graduated from Stillman Valley High School and later from Rock Valley College.
Williams has always had an interest in natural history, specifically paleontology. As a young man, he volunteered at Burpee Museum under former Director Lee Johnson from 1988 through 1994, and then again in 1999 and 2000.
While a deputy sheriff in Ogle County, Williams helped start and fund the initial paleontological expeditions that discovered and excavated Jane and Homer. He was hired in 2003 to lead the team that prepared both of these specimens for display.
Williams’ involvement with Jane was featured in the hour-long Discovery Channel special The Mystery Dinosaur and an episode of National Geographic Explorer.
In 2008, Williams led the team that discovered the late Jurassic-aged, Hanksville-Burpee Quarry, which has been called one of the largest dinosaur bonebeds found in the last 30 years and made National Geographic’s Top 10 Fossil Finds.
The expeditions Williams leads routinely are covered by the regional and local media. In 2009, he was featured as a “Local Newsmaker” by the Rockford Register Star. He has more than 12 years of field experience in the Hell Creek and Morrison Formations, and has nearly two decades of collecting middle Ordovician invertebrate fossils from the Mifflin and Grand Detour Formations of northern Illinois.
In the last 10 years, Williams has done hundreds of public presentations, authored numerous abstracts for scientific conferences and co-authored scientific papers. He manages the permanent and traveling exhibits at Burpee, plans the successful PaleoFest event and is attending NIU to finish a degree in geology. He is planning Burpee’s return to the West for the 2012 field season.
Williams’ lecture is part of the 70th Anniversary of Burpee Museum Lecture Series in memory of Steve Ellis. Ellis died Nov. 5, 2011. He was active on numerous community boards in Rockford. He was especially active with the Burpee Museum, having served many years on the board, most recently as chairman of the Governance Committee, with particular interest in exhibits and programs about natural history for the community.
The September lecture will be “Archaeology of Northern Illinois,” by Dr. Rochelle Lurie. The lecture will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 23.
Burpee Museum of Natural History is at 737 N. Main St., Rockford, and can be reached at (815) 965-3433.
From the May 2-8, 2012, issue
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