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About Rancho La Brea

fossil work at the tar pits rancho la brea
Excavators at La Brea Tar Pits painstakingly unearth the fossils of megafauna and microfossils.

Our research group uses fossils preserved in asphaltic sediments to investigate big questions related to climate change, evolution, and paleoecology.

Because Rancho La Brea represents the largest collection of late Pleistocene asphaltic fossils in the world, we use this opportunity to train students, build collections through excavation, prepare and conserve fossils in our public viewing Fossil Lab and curate this massive collection onsite. Our staff also use these collections to study scientific questions with visiting academics. Much of the current research could not be possible without the unique geological circumstances that occur in the La Basin and the efforts of the paleontologists who came before us.

Geology around Rancho La Brea

Historic Excavations

Early Researchers at Rancho La Brea

As a place-based museum, we are also committed to engaging the communities around us, sharing our research through exhibits, and preserving this National Natural Landmark for future generations.


Our Staff

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Mairin Balisi, Ph.D.

Dr. Balisi is investigating how the dual disturbances of megafaunal extinction and climate transition shaped the mesocarnivore community over the past 40,000 years and by extension, our Los Angeles community today.

Sean Campbell

As a Preparator at Project 23, Mr. Campbell is responsible for excavating fossils, training volunteers and students and sharing his expertise with the public.

Kenneth Campbell, Ph.D.

Dr. Campbell began his tenure at the Natural History Museum in 1977 as one of two curators to fill staff positions for the newly opened George C. Page Museum, a satellite facility of the Natural History Museum.

Connie Clark

As a Preparator in the lab, Ms. Clarke is responsible for preparing fossils, supervising volunteers and communicating her work with museum guests.

Regan E. Dunn, Ph.D

Dr. Regan Dunn is an Assistant Curator at La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. She is a paleobotanist whose research seeks to understand the interplay between climate, plants and animal evolution through time.

Libby Ellwood, Ph.D.

Dr. Ellwood's ecological research occurs at the intersection of climate change, conservation, and citizen science.

Aisling Farrell

As Collections Manager Ms. Farrell has co-managed all of the fossils at Rancho La Brea for over a decade.

John Harris, Ph.D.

Dr. Harris is a Curator Emeritus at Rancho La Brea.

Carrie Howard

Ms. Howard works on digitization projects in the collections and in the field through photography, photogrammetry, and 3D surface scanning.

Emily Lindsey, Ph.D.

Dr. Lindsey's research integrates information from past and modern ecosystems to understand how Ice Age animals and environments functioned.

Our Policies

We are part of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. You can find more information about our positions, policies, and processes here.