2010-2011: In the lab of integrative biology professor Leslea Hlusko, a team of undergraduates led by Ph.D. candidate Oliver Rizk improves the Campanile’s La Brea tar pit collection by organizing, cleaning and studying a large subset of the remains of the dire wolf, an extinct carnivorous mammal. For Rizk, whose dissertation research was on cranial variation in domestic dog breeds, working with the fossils and mentoring six undergrads helps prepare him to be a biology instructor at the University of Southern California. The team’s work is presented at a Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting.

Currently, Hlusko is part of a research project led by Sabrina Sholts, curator at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. They are exploring the microscopic anatomy of tissue in the dire wolf fossils, some from the tower’s La Brea tar seep collection.