2021 Banners MCThompson

2021 Banners MCThompson

Shuhai Xiao, Virginia Tech, received the 2021 NAS Award in the Evolution of Earth and Life - Mary Clark Thompson Medal.

Xiao is a renowned paleobiologist and geobiologist who studies the interactions between the biosphere and its environments at critical transitions in Earth history, particularly during the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition. 

Xiao integrates geological, geochemical, and paleontological research on the evolution and radiation of eukaryotes, of algae, and of animals in the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods. Through this approach, Xiao’s contributions at the interface of geology and paleontology have re-envisioned our understanding of the evolutionary transformation from the mainly microbial world of the Proterozoic to the diverse multicellular life of the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods. 

Xiao also integrates paleobiological, sedimentological, and geochemical data to shed light on important evolutionary events (such as the origin and diversification of eukaryotes, multicellular organisms, and animals), their environmental contexts, and their geobiological consequences. 

Xiao has co-authored several books, edited volumes, and field guides along with his international collaborators. His leadership and his construction of a scientific and cultural bridge between China and the United States have greatly benefited both societies.

The Mary Clark Thompson Medal was established in 1919 by a gift from Mary Clark Thompson to honor important services to geology and paleontology. Each medal is presented with a $20,000 prize.


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