Research in my lab involves understanding and explaining changes in the Earth’s climate and oceans using data derived from microfossils (primarily Foraminifera). 'Forams', for short, are single celled marine protists that secrete a calcite shell (or 'test'). The chemistry of their shells varies with the environmental conditions they grow in (e.g. temperature, salinity, and pH). Fossil specimens are commonly used to reconstruct these growth conditions and link the variability of the chemistry of their shells to changes in ocean chemistry, temperature, and circulation through time. Using forams we can answer questions like: What was the temperature of the ocean like in the past? Was the pH the same or different compared to today?
A few of the primary research questions I seek to answer: How do organisms (like forams) make their shells? How do they exert control over the incorporation of trace elements into the calcite? Understanding how foraminifera calcify and control the chemistry of their shells has broad implications for the use of trace element/Ca ratios measured in their shells as proxies for environmental conditions in the past. Decades of research shows that many foram based paleo-proxies are fundamentally sound (the proxies work, we just don't know exactly why and/or how). In my lab, we seek to improve paleo-proxy relationships by culturing live specimens in an effort to gain a better understanding of how trace elements are incorporated into the calcite shell and apply these laboratory based relationships to samples from the fossil record for paleoclimate reconstructions. We are also interested in understanding how forams will be impacted by future changes in ocean chemistry and temperature. We also continue to apply new calibrations to seafloor sediment samples for paleoclimate reconstructions.
Click on the links on the right for details about past and present projects.
Last updated in 2016.
Updates coming soon