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Personality Test: Carnegie Museum's Matt Lamanna

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By Pittsburgh The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012

Many little boys are fascinated by dinosaurs, but Matt Lamanna grew up to be a man whose career revolves around the prehistoric beasts. Lamanna -- who lives in Seven Fields with his wife, Mandi -- is the assistant curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland. He has a Ph.D. and master's degree in Earth and environmental science from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Lamanna, a native of Waterloo, N.Y., specializes in Southern Hemisphere dinosaurs, and he has done international field work. Lamanna took a break from the dinosaurs to take the Trib's Personality Test.

The star who would play me in the movie version of my life and why:

Woody, the cowboy from the "Toy Story" movies, because many members of my family think I look like him.

Childhood hero and why:

Tony Dorsett, because when I was a little kid, I dreamed of growing up to become an NFL running back (in addition to a paleontologist).

The piece of memorabilia from my childhood I wish I still had.

I somehow convinced my parents to buy me all five of the Predacons from Transformers. I loved those things!

The superpower I wish I had in real life and why:

Teleportation, because "getting there is half the fun" hardly ever applies to me.

I can't live without my: iPod, cellphone, DVR, or laptop?

All of the above except cellphone.

App I wish I could invent:

One that would automatically shut a person's cellphone down if it detected they were driving.

Favorite guilty pleasure:

A tie between a delicious IPA (e.g., East End Big Hop) and Bruster's Peanut Butter Parfait ice cream.

Something I would do over if I could and why:

High school. I wasn't very social back then, but now, I wish that I had been.

Pick one:

A. Pirates

B. Penguins

C. Steelers

D. Other

E. I hate sports

B. I like the Pens because a) they're usually good and b) because I'm not originally from Pittsburgh and already had a favorite football team before I arrived here.

Favorite lunchtime spot:

The Sculpture Court at Carnegie Museum of Art (a shameless plug for my pals at CMOA).

Top thing on my "Bucket List" to do before I'm gone:

I'd really like to go on a safari in sub-Saharan Africa (not the hunting kind, though).

In five years, I'd like to:

Have the long list of scientific papers that I want to do in the near future completed, so I can move on to other projects. And, maybe, be a father.

My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is:

That it has most or all of the amenities of cities many times its size and population, with few of the problems that go with those.

Three people I'd love to have dinner with:

David Attenborough, Steven Spielberg, Sting

My quirkiest inherited trait:

I'm not sure if this is inherited or not, but one of the weirdest things about me is that I despise eggs (as food).

My favorite sandwich, plus fixings:

Roast beef with provolone on a sub roll from the Downtown Deli in Seneca Falls, N.Y. (in the Finger Lakes Region where I grew up, and where much of my family still lives).

One word my mother would use to describe me:


Celebrity crush:

Audrey Tautou

The oldest thing in my refrigerator is:

Something my wife put in there and, subsequently, forgot about (sorry Mandi!).

When I was 10, I wanted to be:

A paleontologist

Exercise I hate most:

I have a love-hate relationship with running. I enjoy doing it, but I can't do too many days in a row because it destroys my shins.

I'm deathly afraid of:

Losing the people I love

If I were auditioning for "American Idol," my song would be:

It wouldn't matter, because I wouldn't make it past the first couple bars before the judges cut me off.

The first band I saw in concert (when and where):

Metallica, upstate New York, ca. 1990

The best concert I've ever seen:

Metallica, upstate New York, ca. 1993 (I've seen Metallica several times)

TV marathon I could watch all day and why:

"The X-Files" reruns, because I love the show but didn't get to see much of it when it originally aired.

Favorite Pittsburgh-area landmark.

PNC Park. I really like how, when one sits behind home plate, the outfield sort of "frames" the city skyline.

Saturday mornings you'll find me:

Working, sadly. I have to just to keep up with everything.

Best new gadget I've tried recently.

I don't know if this counts as "new," but my wife got me a GPS for my birthday last year, and I really like it.

The worst advice I ever received:

Forget paleontology -- do something where you'll make lots of money instead.

In high school, I was:

Painfully shy. (Those who know me now wonder what happened).

The most famous person I ever became friends with:

Former Pens/current Ottawa Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar. A fellow paleontologist and I gave Gonchar, his family, and Evgeni Malkin a tour of the Carnegie Museum a few years back. Later that year, Gonchar recognized me in the Pittsburgh airport. I felt like I'd finally made it.

The movie that always makes me cry:


My most treasured fashion accessory is:

My lucky wallet, that I've had since something like eighth grade.

What you'll always find in my glove compartment:

The owner's manual to my car. I never know when I might need it.

My most embarrassing junk food:

I've been known to eat an entire bag of plain potato chips in one sitting.

If I weren't a dinosaur expert, I'd be:

A marine biologist or conservation biologist

The last book I read:

Something paleontological, for sure. (Unfortunately, I don't read for pleasure much anymore.)

My favorite Pittsburgh pizza:


Movie I could watch every time it appears on cable:

I absolutely will not watch a movie on regular cable, no matter how much I like that movie. The interruptions bug me too much.

My favorite Web site:

My favorite "bad" movie is:

"Point Break"

My first job:

Grocery-store stockboy

My worst job:

Grocery-store stockboy

My favorite cable channel:

I think, overall, it would have to be Comedy Central.

The song that always gets me out on the dance floor and why:

Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," because it's from my childhood, and my geeky friends and I like to play air guitar.

Life would be better without:

There are, obviously, a lot of potential choices here, but I'm going to go with "terminal illness."

I never travel without my:

Laptop. I can't stand to be bored, so I bring my laptop with me when I travel and work when I get "down time."

People would be surprised to know that I:

Am often very nervous when I speak in public.

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