Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Earth Science
Competition: US & Canada
Shuhai Xiao grew up in a rural area in Jiangxi Province of southern China. He attended Peking University from 1984 to 1991, receiving his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees, both in geology, in 1988 and 1991, respectively. After working for two years at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, he went to Harvard University to study paleobiology under the mentorship of Andrew H. Knoll (a Guggenheim Fellow in 1986), and received his PhD degree in organismic and evolutionary biology in 1998. He stayed for two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Knoll lab, before joining the geology faculty at Tulane University in 2000. In 2003 he joined the Geosciences faculty at Virginia Tech as an Assistant Professor in Geobiology. He was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2005 and Full Professor in 2008.
Dr. Xiao’s research interest lies in the early evolution of life and its environment, focusing on the geological time period known as the Proterozoic Eon (2500–542 million years ago). Funded by NSF and NASA, his research projects have taken him to numerous field sites in China, Russia, Australia, Namibia, and Canada to study the Proterozoic fossil and rock record. His contributions include the documentation of exceptionally preserved animal and algal fossils from Neoproterozoic shales, cherts, and phosphorites in southern China, as well as geochemical study of Neoproterozoic successions in order to reconstruct paleoenvironmental conditions. His work was featured in many scientific journals as well as public media such as the National Museum of Natural History, National Geographic, New York Times, and Washington Post. His contributions were recognized in 2006 when he was chosen as a recipient of the Charles Schuchert Award presented by the Paleontological Society to “a person under 40 whose work reflects excellence and promise in the science of paleontology."
Shuhai Xiao served as an associate editor of Journal of Paleontology (2004-06) and he is currently on the editorial board of Precambrian Research, Palaios, Paleoworld, Frontier of Earth Science in China, Solid Earth, and Journal of Stratigraphy. He has also served as the Vice Chair of the International Neoproterozoic Subcommission since 2004.