Paleobiology & Geobiology Research Group

at Virginia Tech


Shuhai Xiao

Sterling Nesbitt

Michelle Stocker

Dr. Xiao is a geobiologist that studies early animal life from all over the world. His work has illustrated the extraordinary preservation of fossil cells and continues to study the early evolution of some of the most bizarre creatures to ever have lived.

Shuhai received his PhD degree from Harvard University. He taught three years at Tulane University before joining Virginia Tech in 2003. He is interested in biological and environmental evolution in the Proterozoic Eon (2500-540 Ma).

Dr. Nesbitt is a vertebrate paleontologist interested in terrestrial vertebrate evolution during Earth’s great transitions. Particularly, Sterling studies the rise of reptiles (archosaurs and their relatives) following the end-Permian extinction.

Sterling received a BA in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, a PhD in Geosciences from Columbia University and has conducted postdoctoral projects at The University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington, and the Field Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Stocker is a vertebrate paleontologist focusing on the evolutionary history of reptiles. Michelle splits her research between Triassic archosauromorphs and Paleogene reptiles, as well as the evolution of extant fossorial reptiles called amphisbaenians.

Michelle received a BS in Geological Sciences from the University of Michigan, a MS in Geosciences from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in Geological Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin.

Graduate Students

Visiting Scholars

Undergraduate Students

Emeritus & Affiliated Researchers

Recent Alumni



Krista Koeller

MS Student

Office: 3051 Derring

B.Sc.     Biology, College of Wooster (2013)

Research interests:

     Convergent evolution


     Comparative anatomy


Chris Griffin

PhD Student

Office: 3053 Derring

B.Sc.     Biology, Geology, & Molecular and Cellular Biology, Cedarville University (2014)

M.Sc.     Geosciences, Virginia Tech (2016)

Research topics:

     Evolution, development, and body size in extinct archosaurs

     Intraspecific variation and sequence polymorphism in ontogeny

     Molecular paleontology


Caitlin Colleary

PhD Student

Office: 3052 Derring

M.Sc.     Paleobiology, University of Bristol, United Kingdom (2013)

B.A.     Anthropology, University of California Los Angeles (2010)

Research topics:

     Taphonomy and molecular preservation

     Fossilization of biomolecules

     Preservation potential and degradation of melanin


Mitchell Riegler

MS Student

Office: 3051 Derring

B.Sc.     Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (2016)

Research interests:

     Skeletal anatomy of the lizard group Phrynosoma

     Evolutionary morphology of squamates

     Functional morphology of squamates


Dana Korneisel

MS Student

Office: 3067 Derring

B.Sc.     Geology, Iowa State University (2015)

B.Sc.     Biology, Iowa State University (2015)

Research topics:

     Morphometric analytical methods to extinct taxa

        Permian and Triassic Terrestrial Vertebrates

     Evolutionary changes in the appendicular skeleton of tetrapods


Devin Hoffman

PhD Student

Office: 3067 Derring

B.Sc.     Geology, Appalachian State University (2017)

Research topics:

     Vertebrate responses to mass extinction

     Diversification of archosaurs

     Growth rate variation in archosaurs


Brenen Wynd

PhD Student

Office: 3051 Derring

B.Sc.     Biology, University of Washington (2015)

B.Sc.     Biochemestry, University of Washington (2015)

Research topics:

     Microfossil communities across mass extinction boundaries

     Biostratigraphy of terrestrial vertebrates

     Phylogenetics of archosauromorphs


Qing Tang

PhD Student

(with Nanjing Institute of Geology & Palaeontology)

Office: 3053 Derring

B.Sc.     Geology, Northwest University, China (2010)

Research topics:

     Acritarchs from the early Neoproterozoic

     Neoproterozoic paleoecology & paleoclimate

     Cambrian sponges

Former Undergraduates

Alexander Beyl

Visiting Student

Office: 3051 Derring

B.Sc.     Geological Sciences, Indiana University (2017)

Research topics:

     Archosaur neurobiology and neurophysiology

     Archosaur biomechanics

     Mesozoic ecology focusing on archosaur niche partitioning

Hunter Edwards

Alex Bradley

Christopher Hays

Travis Oishi

Louisa Gay

Angela Vikesland

Stacy Estes

Emily Lessner

Grant Plunkett

Simon McKay

Alexa Mullin

Colin Sweeney

Tara Helms