Victor Perez

Visiting Assistant Professor

Headshot of Dr. Perez holding a Megalodon shark tooth.


I am a paleontologist, coastal geologist, and STEM educator. Through my research and teaching practices, I decipher and share the stories of Earth’s dynamic history. I specialize on the evolution and ecology of sharks and rays, exploring how biotic and abiotic factors drive extinction and diversification in marine ecosystems.

Sharks and rays are the most abundant vertebrate fossils worldwide for three main reasons: 1) shark and ray teeth are composed of durable enamel, which has a high preservation potential; 2) sharks and rays constantly replace their teeth throughout their lives, with average estimates of 20,000 teeth per individual; and 3) sharks and rays have been around for nearly 450 million years and occupy a wide range of ecological niches. The morphology and chemistry of these teeth provide information regarding taxonomy, diet, and environmental conditions.

Southern Maryland is known worldwide for the exceptional fossil record of Miocene marine life, offering ample opportunities for research, education, and recreation. The fossils along the local Calvert Cliffs are inherently connected to coastal erosion in the Chesapeake Bay. Consequently, my research also explores the active geologic processes along Calvert Cliffs to understand how these processes impact fossil preservation and modern aquatic ecosystems.

As a STEM educator, I am actively involved in undergraduate and K-12 education, as well as community outreach. I create and evaluate educational programs that engage diverse audiences in inquiry-driven learning. I am currently a co-PI on a National Science Foundation ITEST grant that is introducing middle school students to artificial intelligence using fossil shark teeth. Through this project, we are developing a curriculum in which students create machine learning models that are capable of classifying images of fossil shark teeth. 


What to learn more about my research? Check out my Research Gate profile.

Areas of Research Specialization

  • Paleontology Systematics
  • Paleoecology
  • Marine Biodiversity
  • Coastal Geology
  • Strontium Isotope Geochemistry
  • Machine Learning
  • STEM Education

Areas of Teaching Specialization

  • Earth Systems Science
  • Environmental Justice
  • Natural History Collections
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Ph.D. in Geological Sciences, with minors in Zoology and Science Education, at University of Florida, 2020
  • B.S. in Earth Sciences, with a minor in Mathematics, at The Ohio State University, 2013