George Stanley

Professor Emeritus

Personal Summary

I began my interest in fossils and geology at the tender age of  nine years old, having been inspired by some Paleozoic fossil corals. I  have pursued this passion through high school and college and  then into an advanced degree at the University of Kansas followed by a Fulbright Fellowship to Germany.  As a Geologist and Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution at the National Museum of Natural History,  I helped develop the Hall of Life and conducted paleontology research with S.I. research staff, curators and scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey.  As an honorary Research Associate, I continue to maintain contact with the Smithsonian. I have lived and worked in Germany, China, Japan and New Zealand and helped established international cooperative programs in different countries. I love working with undergraduate students and some led to  "Senior Projects".  My teaching duties include lectures in paleontology and evolution and supervision of undergraduate and  graduate research. Some of my graduate students have gone on to distinguish themselves as researchers and professors. I retired in 2018 and became "emeritus". While I don't teach courses anymore, I continue to direct and interact with the University of Montana Paleontology Center (UMPC),


I am involved in some public outreach through the UMPC and with local high schools and some Missoula organizations. My hobbies include hiking, skiing  and outdoors as well as playing guitar.   Learn more about me from a 2014 interview with the Eerie Digest.

I was a 2016 Provost Distinguished Faculty lecturer at the University of Montana and my lecture can be viewed here:


A Youtube segment on my professional life was developed as a STEM project by Doctoral student,  Montana Hodges:





BA University of Tennessee

PhD The University of Kansas,

Goethe Institute of German Language Certificate

Fulbright Scholar in Germany

Courses Taught


Geos 106N  History of Life - First-year introduction to the evolution of life and how it has impacted with geological forces in Earth history

Geos 191 (Honors)  God Darwin and Dinosaurs   (Taught occasionally as a UM Davidson Honors College course)

Geos 311  Paleobiology - Introduction to fossils as biological and geological objects and their use in solving problems in biology and geology

Geos 395 Special topics (individual topics consisting mostly of one-on-one interactions)

Geos 583 Advanced Topics in Stratigraphy and Paleontology Some recent topics:

  • Evolution of Reef Systems
  • Massive Global Climate change and Mass Extinctions
  • Paleontological Techniques

Teaching Experience

I have taught paleontology courses at graduate and undergraduate levels for much of my career. I have been a teaching faculty in the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana where I taught several "Honors Courses".  I also was a lecturer at the University of California, Davis and taught part-time courses in historical geology at the university/college level in the Washington, D.C. area.

Research Interests

Research is in paleontology/paleobiology and is international in scope. It utilizes paleobiology, stratigraphic analysis, paleoecology, and isotope applications with a specialization on reefs and corals, especially their evolution in the early Mesozoic. Research questions center on mass extinctions and use statistical techniques to resolve paleobiogeography,  photosymbiosis, ancient CO2 levels, and ocean acidification during ancient reef collapse and  the "Naked Coral Hypothesis. The research applies practical and theoretical approaches utilizing fossil collections, paleobiology databases to solve problems in the Geosciences. Here is a UM link to a blog on my research:  UM Research and Creative Scholarship


Ocean acidification and ocean changes in the ancient past

Evolution of reefs of the early Mesozoic and Mass Extinctions

Cambrian and Ediacaran soft-bodied cnidarians

Triassic-Jurassic reef ecosystem recovery following the end-Triassic mass extinction

Paleogeography of Upper Triassic biotas from displaced terranes of western North America and comparisons with counterparts in Panthalassa

Geochemistry via stable isotopes to investigate the evolution of Mesozoic corals and their co-evolution with zooxanthellate photosymbionts

Field of Study

Paleontology, paleobiology  evolution and stratigraphy

Selected Publications

Stanley, G. D., Jr. and van de Schootbrugge, B. 2018. The evolution of the coral-algal symbiosis and coral bleaching in the geologic past. In M.J.H. van Oppen and J. M. Lough (eds.)  p. 9-26. Coral Bleaching: Patterns, Processes, Causes and Consequences (2ed Edition). Springer International Publishing, AG, Basel, Switzerland

Stanley, G.D. Jr., Shepherd, H.M.E. and Robinson, A.J. 2018. Paleoecological response of corals to the end-Triassic mass extinction: An integrational analysis. Journal of Earth Science, Vol. 29, No. 4, p. 879–885

Hodges, M.S., González-León, C., Stanley, G.D., Jr and Hodges, C.L. 2017. Detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology of the Sierra de Santa Rosa Formation, Sonora, Mexico, and           implications for an Early Jurassic retroarc basin. Lithosphere  v. 9; no. 5, p. 702–71

Stanley, G. D., Jr. 2017. Coral Diseases. In McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and  Technology 2017, p. 1-7, McGraw-Hill, New York.

Hubbard, D.K., Rogers, C. S., Lipps, J. H., Stanley, Jr., G. D. 2016. Coral Reefs at the Crossroads. Coral Reefs of the World Series v. 6, Springer Science Publishers. 300p.

Hodges, M.S. and Stanley, G.D. Jr. 2015 North American coral recovery after the end-Triassic mass extinction, New York Canyon, Nevada. GSA Today v. 25, no. 11, p. 4-9

Stanley, G. D. Jr and Onoue, T. 2015. Upper Triassic reef corals from the Sambosan Accretionary Complex, Kyushu, Japan. Facies, v. 61 (Issue 2)

Stanley, G.D. 2015 Geologic history of reefs.  In McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and  Technology 2015, p. 124-126. McGraw-Hill publishers, New York.

Roniewicz, E. and Stanley, G..D., Jr.  2013. Upper Triassic corals from Nevada, western North America, and the implications for paleoecology and paleogeography. Journal of Paleontology v. 87, no. 5, p. 934–964.

Stanley, G.D., Jr. and Brayard, A. 2013. Metazoan reef evolution in the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction. World Summit on Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction and Extreme Climate Change, June 13-15, Wuhan, China. Abstracts volume, p. 64-65. Z.-Q. Chen, H. Yang and G. Luo, (eds.). China University Geosciences, Wuhan.

Stanley, G. D., Jr., Yancey, T.E. and Shepherd, H.E. 2013. Giant Upper Triassic bivalves of Wrangellia, Vancouver Island, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences v. 50, p. 142-147.

Shepherd, H.M.E,  Stanley, G.D. Jr., and Amirhassankhani, F. 2012. Norian To Rhaetian Scleractinian Corals In the Ferdows Patch Reef (Nayband Formation, East Central Iran). Journal of Paleontology 86, p. 801-812.

Senowbari-Daryan, B., Stanley, G.D., Jr. and Onoue, T. 2012. Upper Triassic (Carnian) reef biota from the Sambosan Accretionary Complex, Kyushu, Japan. Facies  v. 58, issue 4, p. 671-684.

Stanley, G.D., Jr. 2012. Ocean acidification and the ‘Naked coral’ hypothesis.  p. 27-28 in Book of Abstracts, D. Yellowlees and T. P. Hughes (eds.) Proceedings of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium 9-13 July 2012, Cairns. James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia.

Moore, K. L. and Stanley, G. D., Jr.  2012. Enhancing the Bear Gulch Paleontological Research Collection at The University of Montana. The Society For The Preservation of Natural History Collections Collection Forum v. 26 (1-2), p. 4-11.

Lamaskin, T. D. Stanley, G. D., Jr., Caruthers, A. H. and Rosenblatt, M.R. 2011. Detrital record of Upper Triassic reefs in the Olds Ferry Terrane, Blue Mountains  Province, northeastern Oregon. Palaios v. 26, p. 779-789.

Stanley, G. D., Jr. (ed.) 2011. Corals and Reef Crises, Collapse and Change. PaleontologicalPaper 17, The Paleontological Society, Boulder, Colorado, 160pp.

Stanley, G. D., Jr. and Lipps, J. H. 2011. Photosymbiosis: The driving force for reef success and failure. Paleontological Society Paper 17, p. 33-60.

Han, J, Kubota S, Uchida, H-O., Stanley, G.D., Jr., Yao, X., et al. 2010. Tiny Sea Anemone from the Lower Cambrian of China. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13276.doi:10.1371/ journal.pone 0013276.

Stanley, G. D., Jr. 2010. Recovery of corals and reefs after the end-Permian and the“Naked Coral” Lazarus effect. Journal of Earth Science v. 21, p. 161-164.

Stanley, G. D., Jr. 2009. Corals and ocean acidification. (Invited Chapter)  In  McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology 2009. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., New York,  pp. 66-69.

Stanley, G. D., Jr. and van de Schootbrugge. 2009. The evolution of the coral-algal symbiosis. Chapter 2. In  M.J.H.van Oppen and J. M.  Lough (Eds.)  Coral Bleaching: Patterns, Processes, Causes and Consequences. Ecological Studies Series, v. 205, pp. 7-19.

Stanley, G. D., Jr., Caruthers, A. H. and Blodgett, R. B. 2008. From hot and tropical to cold and Arctic: The Triassic history of the Wrangell Mountains.  Alaska Park Science, v. 7, issue 1 (June, 2008), pp. 4-15.

Stanley, G. D., Jr. 2007.  Ocean acidification and coral reefs. Science, 24 August 2007, v. 317, pp. 1032-1033.

Stanley, G. D., Jr. 2006. Photosymbiosis and the evolution of modern coral reefs. Science, v. 312, 12 May 2006, pp. 857-858.


My published work consist of books, book chapters, papers and abstracts (most published with students. My topics range from Cambrian soft-bodied cnidarian fossils, tectonic displaced terranes in the American Cordillera and study of the paleogeographic distribution and evolution of corals and reefs. Most recently,  I am doing research on early Mesozoic coral reefs to resolve the dynamics of the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic period with emphasis on the earliest Jurassic recovery among corals and reefs.  A former doctoral student of mine, Montana Hodges, is collaborating with me on this topic, collecting fossils and dating the rocks with detrital zircon. Hodges and Stanley’s research reveals that coral and coral reefs were hard-hit by massive global climate change about 200 million years ago, causing them to collapse suddenly. It took them 10s of millions of to recover and the study relates directly to global climate changes underway today which are undermining marine ecosystems, especially corals and reefs.

 This research was published in the 2016 GSA Today magazine and GSA journal Lithosphere and highlighted by the University of Montana:


It also was highlighted by national media such as Popular Science:



American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow

Courtesy Professor, Yunnan University, Kunming, China

Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow

Geological Society of America Fellow

Organization for Tropical Studies Fellow

Smithsonian Institution, Honarary Research Associate

University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratory Whitely Fellow

Specialized Skills

Foreign Languages:  German (Goethe Institute Level-4 Certificate), Spanish, reading knowledge of French; editorial experience.

Statistics and computer science

Professional Experience

Geological Society of America Service: Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology Advisory Committee, GSA Nomination Committee, University of Montana Faculty GSA Representative; editor and organizer for  GSA Special Papers  

Paleontological Society: Distinguished Lecturer (1993-94), Medal Committee (1992-94); Organize Short Courses, meeting symposia and a Special Paper; Member, Sepkoski PalSIRP  International Research Program  (2002-2009)

Participant in International Geological Correlation Projects Overseas:

IGCP 359 "Tethyan, Circum-Pacific and Marginal Gondwana Late Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic Correlations" (1993-96), U.S. Group Leader

IGCP 335 "Biotic Recoveries from Mass Extinctions" Participant (1993-1998)

IGCP 467 “Triassic Time and Trans‑Panthalassan Correlations”Participant (2001-2005)

IGCP 458 “Triassic‑Jurassic Boundary Events" Participant (2001-2008)

IGCP 572 “Permo-Triassic Ecosystems” (2008-2014)  International Advisory Committe

IGCP 630  "Permian-Triassic climatic and environmental extremes and biotic response" (2014-2018)

Other Committees/Appointments:

Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Coordinator and Co-Editor Coral volume (2005-present); Editorial Board, Springer-Verlag (2004-present); Nature, Advisory Panel (2008-2010); Subcommission on Triassic Stratigraphy (1996-2014); SEPM:  Nominating Committee (1997); Awards and Medals Evaluation Committee (1988‑92); Editorial Board, Springer-Verlag (2004-present); Nature, Advisory Panel (2008-2010); Subcommission on Triassic Stratigraphy (1996-2014)

My Professional Affiliations and Memberships:

American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow); Geological Society of America (Fellow); Organization for Tropical Studies (Fellow); Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Fellow); Fulbright Alumni Association (Fellow); Paleontological Society member; International Palaeontological Association member; International Society for Reef Studies (Founding Member); SEPM Society of Sedimentary Geology member

International Experience

I am very much involved in international research, collaborating and working with geologists from many other countries.  In 2014 I had a post-doctoral scholar from France and a faculty affiliate from Wuhan, China. Previous post-docs were from China, New Zealand and Germany.  I have lived in China, Japan, Germany, New Zealand and Central Amerca in Belize for both teaching and research. My past research was conducted on Cambrian rocks and fossils of Yunnan, China, the Andes of Peru, Sonora Mexico, the Austrian Alps, Australia, New Zealand and a brief trip to Antarctica, In 2013  a one-month fellowship in southern Japan allowed me to collaborated with Japanese geologists. International awards and honors include:

Fulbright Research Fellow to Germany; Appointment as Courtesy Professor, Yunnan University, Kunming, China; A Fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science; Fellow of the Organization for Tropical Studies (Costa Rica); Foundational Fellow, The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Some recent international meeting I have attended include:

July 19-23, 2015: Graz, Austria STRATI2015 2ed International Congress on Sedimentology US Delegate. Lecture presented: “Ocean Acidification, the Permian Mass Extinction and the Naked Coral Effect”

June 22-25, 2015: Krakow, Poland, 22ed IAS meeting of Sedimentology, lecture presented: “Photosymbiosis and the geologic evolution of reefs and carbonates”

Sept 28-Oct 3, 2014:  Mendoza, Argentina, 4th International Palaeontological Congress invited lecture “Reefs: Photosynthetically-driven reef ecosystems through time”

August 18-22, 2014: Geneva, Switzerland, co-authored paper, International Sedimentological Congress 2014, “The Martin Bridge Carbonate Platform (Wallowa terrane, Northwestern USA): reassessment for a better understanding of the evolution of the Blue Mountains Province”

June 13-15, 2013: Wuhan, China, World Summit on Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction, Recovery and Extreme Climatic Changes. University of Geosciences, Wuhan.  Keynote  “Metazoan reef evolution in the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction”

19-22 August 2011: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 21st Canadian Palaeontology Conference. Late Triassic marine faunas from the Parsons Bay Formation, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada” (with UM grad student Hannah H. Shepherd)

22-26 August, 2011: Liège, Belgium, 11th International Symposium on Fossil Cnidaria and Porifera. “Corallosphere Project”

June 13-15, 2013: Wuhan, China, World Summit on Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction, Recovery and Extreme Climatic Changes. University of Geosciences, Wuhan.  Keynote Lecture- “Metazoan reef evolution in the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction”

July 19-23, 2015: Graz, Austria STRATI2015 2ed International Congress on Sedimentology US Delegate. Lecture presented: “Ocean Acidification, the Permian Mass Extinction and the Naked Coral Effect”

December 8, 2016: Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C. featured speaker “Photosymbiosis in Geologic Time”

1-5 August, 2016: Guiyang, China  Field Conference in Quizhou Province to examine fossil sites for future UNESCO World heritage Geopark

Honors / Awards

Fulbright Scholar and Fellow,  Senior Professor level, Germany

Smithsonian Institution Research Associate

University of Kansas Haworth Distinguished Alumni


Hiking, Music, playing guitar and singing and I  write some original paleontology lyrics