Sterling Nesbitt, a fifth-year assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech, is a vertebrate paleontologist who uses his passion to inspire others to explore Earth History. This passion began early in his life and combines his love of geology and biology. He grew up among Mesozoic rocks (250 to 65 million years old) in the southwestern United States, which led to a career reconstructing the paleobiology Triassic-aged (252-202 million years ago) vertebrates and their importance to understanding diversity and faunal change over time.
His interests continued to blossom during his undergraduate education at the University of California at Berkeley and through his graduate work at Columbia University and at one of the largest natural history museums in the world, the American Museum of Natural History.
Nesbitt has collected vertebrate fossils from many places in Africa (Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar), Mongolia, South America (Brazil, Argentina) and across North America. To date, Nesbitt has named more than 20 new species of extinct vertebrates (including dinosaurs and birds), but also studies living reptiles.
Currently, Nesbitt heads a research lab composed of undergraduate and graduate students that explores the origins of vertebrate diversity and shape, reptile evolution, and how to use recent technologies to study long extinct animals. His research group shares their enthusiasm for vertebrate paleontology at local, national, and international conferences and outreach events across the country. Nesbitt teaches first-year undergraduate students in the geosciences program and a variety of broad and in-depth classes that teach about Earth’s rich past.