New Lecture Series at Park University to Focus on Natural, Physical Sciences

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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Dr. Sterling NesbittFirst Lecture to Feature Discussion on the Origin of Dinosaurs

A lecture focusing on archosaurs, a group of reptiles that includes dinosaurs, birds and crocodylians, will be featured in Park University’s new Johnson Family Lecture Series in Science. The initial event will be held on Thursday, March 24, starting at 7 p.m. in the Jenkin and Barbara David Theater within Alumni Hall on the University’s Parkville Campus. The lecture is free and open to the public, though registration is requested at

Sterling Nesbitt, Ph.D., assistant professor of geosciences at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., will present “The Beginning of the Age of Reptiles: The Rise of Archosaurs and Their Relatives Following the End-Permian Extinction.” Archosaurs have a long evolutionary history dating back to the Triassic Period, some 245 million years ago. Nesbitt will discuss the diversity and disparity of this group that was highly influenced by mass extinctions, and he will present new field work and information from museum visits from across the globe that has led to a better understanding of these reptiles.

Nesbitt, originally from Mesa, Ariz., found his passion for paleontology in the U.S. Southwest as a volunteer at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, preparing fossils, learning how to write scientific reports and participating in fossil digs. His interests focused on the vertebrates of the Triassic Period as many of the rocks in Northern Arizona around Petrified Forest National Park preserved the remains of Triassic animals. Nesbitt earned his doctorate, Master of Philosophy and Master of Arts degrees in geosciences from Columbia University in New York, and his Bachelor of Arts in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Johnson Family Lecture Series in Science was established to provide members of the community, as well as liberal arts and science majors, an opportunity to experience science in action and hear established scientists discuss their research. In addition to a public event, the lecture series includes the opportunity for Park students to engage with the featured speaker in a more academic-focused setting. The lecture series was established by Park University alumnus George Johnson, ’63, Ph.D., who has provided funding for the event. Johnson is professor emeritus at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

For those unable to attend the lecture, it will be webcast live via Park University’s video portal.