Student Spotlight: Matthew Bonnan
Major: Earth Science
In 2004, Matthew Bonnan and three fellow researchers discovered a new species of dinosaur in South Africa.
The “earth claw” dinosaur is about 195 million years old and measures about 20 feet long. Aardonyx celestae is a species sauropod, the largest animals to walk on earth. While sauropods reached their pinnacle during the late Jurassic period, little has been known of the species from the early Jurassic period until the discovery in South Africa.
Bonnan and his colleagues have since discovered and described two more new species of dinosaurs in South Africa.
After the first discovery, Bonnan and his colleagues published a report on the new dinosaur, called the Pulanesaura, in 2015. Click here to read more about the discovery on Bonnan’s blog.
Bonnan credits his start at College of DuPage with success in his field. The vertebrae paleobiologist graduated from the College in 1993.
“As the oldest of six children from a working class family, I didn’t have a lot of resources to attend college,” he said. “The start I got at COD allowed me to matriculate at the University of Illinois at Chicago.”
Bonnan earned his bachelor’s in Geological Sciences from UIC and a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Northern Illinois University. He currently is an associate professor of biological sciences at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
“I also teach a freshman seminar dinosaur class that uses dinosaurs to engage students with how science works,” he said.
In 2016, Bonnan published a book on the evolution of the vertebrate skeleton, “The Bare Bones: An Unconventional Evolutionary History of the Skeleton.”
Bonnan will always remember the help he received from the COD faculty, particularly Professor Mark Sutherland, and their enthusiastic approach to teaching.
“Unlike other professors I encountered later at larger universities, Mark demonstrated that good, in-depth science teaching could be inclusive rather than exclusive,” he said. “Mark showed me that a good professor is a facilitator, not a gatekeeper.”
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