2008 Predoctoral Fellowship Grant Recipient
Sterling J. Nesbitt
I was born in the deserts of the southwestern United States, Mesa, Arizona. Many camping trips to the edge of the Colorado Plateau fueled my love of discovering ancient life and being outdoors. I didn't have to go far to collect fossils, during 1997, a mammoth was found near my house. I spent the next three weeks excavating the specimen in July in the Phoenix basin; I was hooked and I have been doing fieldwork every summer since. I completed my undergraduate degree in integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Under the direction of Dr. Kevin Padian, I collected, prepared and fully described the Middle Triassic suchian Arizonasaurus babbitti for my senior thesis. My investigation into the relationship of Arizonasaurus sparked my interest in early archosaurs. I am currently a PhD candidate at Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History.
My primary research interest focuses on two main areas: the relationships of basal archosaurs and early radiation of the group following the Permian-Triassic boundary. To accomplish this, I have conducted fieldwork in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Tanzania, Mongolia and Madagascar to collect new specimens from the Early to the Late Triassic. My dissertation has focused on the relationships of suchians (rauisuchians and poposaurids), the stem leading to Dinosauria, and the stem leading to Archosauria. Additionally, I have examined the Coelophysis Quarry assemblage, one of the world's most extensive and remarkable Late Triassic accumulations of vertebrates. I have also traveled to museums all over the world inspecting basal archosaurs.
I am excited and honored to be awarded the SVP's Predoctoral Fellowship Grant for 2008. I wish to thank the selection committee and the generous letters of recommendations from Paul Olsen, Mark Norell and John Flynn. The award allows me to continue my examination of the early archosaur radiation in the Triassic. I will travel to China to study early archosaurs from the Middle to Late Triassic of Asia. These taxa serve as a comparison among similar taxa from North America, South Africa and Tanzania.
Photo courtesy of Sterling J. Nesbitt.