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Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education

The Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education (PSE) is passionate about promoting the cooperation and collaboration between scientists, individuals and commercial fossil collectors for the advancement of science.  The Lauer Foundation PSE is an active operating foundation and the Foundation's collections are curated using museum standards including the Specify Software, collection management system, and storage of specimens in a museum grade climate controlled environment.  The Foundation adheres to responsible acquisition practices, requiring proper provenance for additions to the Foundation collections.  The Foundation actively participates in the study, analysis, documentation and research of its fossil collections with the international scientific community. 

Pterosaur, Pterodactylus kochi, Eichstätt, Germany
Coal Removal Machinery, Pit 11, Braidwood, Illinois, Photo Rich Rock

The history of the Foundation began decades ago.  Bruce Lauer began his lifelong interest in paleontology in the 1970’s, collecting fossil concretions in the Mazon Creek area of Illinois as a member of the Earth Sciences Club of Illinois (ESCONI).  His interest and collections of fossils grew to include scientifically important specimens.  Bruce and Rene Lauer recognized their collection contained scientifically important specimens and sought a solution to provide permanent access to these specimens for science and to properly curate the collection. The collections provide a rare glimpse of the biota of two important fossil laggerstätte: Solnhofen, Bavaria, Germany (Jurassic Age) and Mazon Creek, Illinois, USA (Carboniferous Age).  

The Lauer Foundation PSE was formally established in 2014 as a 501(c)(3) not for profit operating foundation with a corporate Board of Directors. The mission of the Foundation is to promote collaboration, cooperation and access to the scientific community of scientifically important specimens.  Today, the Lauer Foundation PSE maintains one of the most complete collections of Solnhofen fossils representing the entire biota of the location.   


The extensive collection is available to study and view through collaborations with museums, scientists and researchers.  The fossils are curated using the Specify Software and follows museum protocols for storage and documentation.  Additional photographic and UV photographic documentation, microscopes and camera equipment is provided to visiting researchers. 

Ratfish, Chimaeropsis paradoxa, Eichstätt, Germany
Paleontology and Geology Outreach program

The Foundation also recognized the need to advance knowledge and spark curiosity in young people in the sciences, world cultures and natural history.  The Foundation continues to provide programs begun by Bruce and Rene Lauer to provide unique hands-on educational outreach programs to area schools, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), museums and the community.


The Lauer Foundation PSE, not any individual, own the Foundation collections; all specimens in the Foundation will be deposited to a museum or public depository as selected by the Board of Directors, to continue to provide permanent access to scientific researchers for study, publications and exhibition. 

To see the Lauer Foundation PSE collection in the news click here.  

If you are interested in learning more or participating in a potential collaboration or study of the collection please contact us at  


The Lauer Foundation PSE is solely funded by the Lauer family and does not currently accept outside donations or grant requests at this time.

Lauer Foundation Legal Structure

The Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education is an independent operating foundation, governed by a corporate Board of Directors. The Foundation is registered as a 501 (c)(3) not for profit organization with the U.S. Government and the State of Illinois. The Lauer Foundation PSE, and not any individual, owns all specimens. This legal structure is almost identical to many public museums.


In an effort to be transparent, the Foundation has provided access to important information and legal documents for those interested in collaborating on science and research projects. These documents have provided the necessary assurances to the researchers and several large institutions the Foundation has collaborated with including: Appalachian State University, Virginia Tech and The Natural History Museum UK.

If you have additional questions or requests regarding the legal structure of the Lauer Foundation PSE, please contact Bruce Lauer. 




Bruce Lauer began his interest in paleontology and fossils in the early 1970’s.  He was an active participant in the Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois and focused on collecting fossils from the Mazon Creek area of Northern Illinois as well as Solnhofen, Germany.


Bruce attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, receiving his bachelor's degree in accounting as well as his CPA certificate.  As Chief Operating Officer, Bruce retired from his 35 year career in accounting and investment management in 2014 to focus on his lifelong passion.


Bruce Lauer and his family traveled extensively around the world, continuing their education and cultural awareness which ignited Bruce's interest in paleontology.  This led to the development of the Lauer Foundation PSE as well as numerous paleontology, geology and Africa multicultural outreach programs for the local schools.


As an active member of both the Council on Africa and the Founder's Council at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, Bruce also supports various scientific and wildlife conservation programs while continuing his work with the Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education.

Bruce Lauer, Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education
Bruce Lauer, Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education
Rene Lauer, Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education
Rene Lauer, Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education



Rene Lauer is a photographer, artist, public speaker and co-curator of the Lauer Foundation for Paleontology, Science and Education.  She began her career as a manager of a large office staff which then led to her starting her own secretarial and resume service business.  


Rene returned to school to develop her skills as a fine artist and illustrator as well as expand her photography skills.  She has trained under many National Geographic photographers all over the world. Her experiences led her to develop a school lecture focused on multicultural awareness celebrations.  The program is presented from the vantage point of a fifth grade student living in Africa to demonstrate typical life experiences as well as the importance of education and wildlife conservation. This outreach work is now a key focus of the Lauer Foundation PSE.


Utilizing her photography knowledge, Rene provides photographic digitization of the Lauer Foundation PSE specimens.  She is a collaborator and instructor of new techniques within photographic digitalization to ensure safe fossil preparation.


Rene Lauer is an active member of the Council on Africa, Women in Science and the Founder’s Council at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.  She is a key supporter of National Geographic, the Cheetah Conservation Fund and a member of the North American Nature Photography Association.  







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