Lab Members


Principal Investigator


Dr. James C. Lamsdell

Assistant Professor of Paleobiology

Ph.D. University of Kansas, 2014
M.Sc. University of Bristol, 2008
B.Sc. University of Birmingham, 2004

Postdoctoral Scholars


Dr. Brendan Anderson

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ph.D. Cornell University, 2018
M.S. University of Kansas, 2013
B.A. Dartmouth College, 2009 

Brendan is a paleobiologist interested in the interplay between geologic processes and macroevolution. He is particularly interested in the evolutionary origin of unusual features of mollusks. His doctoral research focused on Neogene gastropods, specifically the evolution of the uncoiled Vermicularia within the Turritellidae. Brendan makes use of a wide range of techniques available in modern paleontology including genetic sequencing, 3-D printing, geochemical techniques (e.g. stable isotope sclerochronology, Raman spectroscopy, XRD), SEM and nano-CT imaging, and traditional paleoecological techniques to answer a variety of paleobiological questions. His outside interests include reading, collectible card games, and philosophy.

Graduate students

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Emily Hughes

Ph.D. Student
M.S. Student (2017-2019)

M.S. West Virginia University, 2019
B.S. Keystone College, 2017

Emily is from northeastern Pennsylvania, and attended Keystone College where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental resource management in 2017. Emily began her studies at Keystone with the intention of pursuing a career in industry, but soon developed a serious interest in Earth history and paleontology, and decided to go on to graduate school at West Virginia University in order to pursue a career in academia. Emily completed her M.S. with Dr. Lamsdell in 2019, and received a West Virginia University Ruby Doctoral Fellowship to stay and pursue her Ph.D. Emily's general research interests involve fossil aquatic arthropods. Besides geology and paleontology, Emily's other hobbies include drawing, running, star gazing, and reading.

M.S. Thesis title: Discerning the Diets of Sweep-Feeding Eurypterids through Analysis of Mesh-Modified Appendage Armature.

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Namiko Machida

Ph.D. Student

M.S. University of Tsukuba, 2018
B.S. University of Tsukuba, 2016

Namiko attended University of Tsukuba where she studied stratigraphy and micropaleontology. She did fieldwork in Permian limestone in Japan for her bachelor's degree, and the Devonian sequence in Thailand for her Master's degree. Her background also includes assisting the collections manager in the vertebrate lab. Having obtained geological skills, she decided to switch her focus to paleontology, especially trilobites and other Paleozoic arthropods. Her interests are quantitative evaluation of morphological change, ontogeny, and phylogeny. Her hobbies are folding papers, hiking, and swimming.


Shadya El-ashkar

M.S. Student

B.S. Salem State University, 2018

Shadya is from Salem, Massachusetts, and graduated with a B.S in Geological Sciences from Salem State University. Her previous work involves studying sediment cores from a New England salt marsh to reconstruct past high energy events, and how they may have impacted carbon sequestration. Her research interests include using invertebrate marine fossils to understand ecological, evolutionary, and climatic change. Other activities aside from geology include hiking, running, games, music and juggling.


Sam Tybout

M.S. Student

B.S. University of Rochester, 2015

Sam attended the University of Rochester, where he graduated with a degree in Geology. He has participated in several fossil digs in Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, and produced a thesis on late Pleistocene lizards. Sam's interests include phylogenetics, evolutionary dynamics, and teaching. He spends his free time playing tabletop games and singing loudly.

Undergraduate Research Students

None at present.

Past lab members

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James Beech

M.S. Student (2017-2019)

Currently: Ph.D. student, University of Southern California

M.S. West Virginia University, 2019
B.A. Oberlin College, 2017

James attended Oberlin College, where he majored in Geology and Creative Writing. His background includes work with vertebrate collections and fieldwork with sediments in New Zealand, as well as teaching an experimental course on speculative evolution. His interest is in evolutionary paleobiology and paleontology, particularly the relationship between morphospace and ecospace occupation through time. His hobbies include writing, community radio, and tabletop gaming.

M.S. Thesis title: Death-defying Morphologies: Mass Extinction and Disparity in the Order Harpetida.


Margaret Rubin

Undergraduate Researcher (2016)

Currently: M.S. student, University of Iowa

B.A. Oberlin College, 2018

Maggie attended Oberlin College, where she majored in Biology and Geology. Her background includes a variety of museum work and research including work with Dr. Lamsdell on the cuticular structure of extinct and extant chelicerates. She is currently applying to graduate schools to pursue a career in museum work and collections management with research interests in vertebrate paleontology, particularly comparative morphology and phylogeny. Her hobbies include sewing, baking, and tabletop gaming.


Jessica Shulman

Undergraduate Researcher (2018-2019)

Currently: M.S. student, Western Washington University

B.S. West Virginia University, 2019

Jess is an undergraduate from Columbia, Maryland. She is currently studying math and geology here at West Virginia University. Jess is interested in how climate and species have changed over geological time. She is currently working on a project involving localities of eurypterids. When Jess isn’t pondering the geological past she likes to draw and pet dogs.

Erieopterus limuloides , Silurian, Indiana

Erieopterus limuloides, Silurian, Indiana

Currently accepting graduate students

Interested in joining the lab in the future? Contact me!

Department Teaching Assistantships available for MS and PhD students.

Applicants will be considered for Fall 2019. Transcripts and test scores are due December 15th, completed application due January 1st.
Check the Department of Geology and Geography's admission guidelines here.