Lauren Sallan

 Lauren Sallan

Martin Meyerson Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary StudiesTED Senior Fellow

215 898-5650

215C Leidy Labs


Lauren Sallan is a ‘next generation’ paleobiologist and ichthyologist applying cutting-edge developments in ‘Big Data’ analytics to reveal how evolution happens at the largest scales (macroevolution). Lauren uses the vast fossil and living record of fishes as a database to determine why some species persist and diversify while others die off, how novel features evolve, and how ecological conflicts and environmental shocks drive evolution at immense time scales. Lauren earned a PhD in Integrative Biology from the University of Chicago in 2012. She is currently the Martin Meyerson Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Lauren received the Stensio Award for top early career paleoichthyologist in 2015, and the University of Chicago Distinguished Service Award for Early Achievement in 2018. In 2019, Lauren received an NSF CAREER award and became a TED Senior Fellow. Her TED Talks have received more than 3 million views. Lauren’s research has been published in high-profile venues such as Science, PNAS, and Current Biology, and been featured by NSF, The New York Times, the New Scientist, and other popular outlets. 

  • Ph.D. (2012) Integrative Biology, University of Chicago
  • S.M.  (2009)  Organismal Biology, University of Chicago
  • M.S.  (2007)  Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University
  • B.S.   (2003)  Biology, cum laude, Florida Atlantic University
Research Foci
Biogeochemistry and Global Environmental Change
Ocean, Atmosphere and Climate Sciences
Research Interests

The Sallan Lab is broadly interested in how global events, environmental change and ecological interactions affect long-term evolution (macroevolution) in early vertebrates (half of vertebrate history), ray-finned fishes (half of vertebrate diversity) and marine ecosystems through time. We test macroevolutionary hypotheses using methods ranging from "big data" quantitative approaches and mathematical modeling to biomechanics experiments to phylogenetic systematics and morphological description.

Research Areas: Paleobiology/Paleontology, Macroevolution, Macroecology, Early Vertebrates, Ichthyology, Mass Extinction, Phylogenetics, Functional Morphology/Biomechanics, Evo-Devo

Courses Taught
  • GEOL 205/405: Paleontology
  • GEOL 479: Macroevolution
  • GEOL 516: Paleoecology
CV (file)