My research explores the evolutionary history of ecosystems to evaluate biodiversity fluctuations under Earth’s changing climate regimes. One of the most pressing environmental concerns of our time is the deteriorating health of Earth’s natural ecosystems under a warming climate. My research examines ancient ecosystems and compares them to the modern to provide a temporal perspective on future ecosystem health.
My research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the United States Agency for International Development, and the National Geographic Society. I received invitations for research presentations from international conference organizers, and U.S. and Canadian academic institutions.
As an Evolutionary Paleoecologist, I have a long-term perspective on evolution, inclusive of the evolution of biota, their encompassing environments, and the larger geological landscape. As such, I examine and evaluate ecosystems of the past over a temporal or geological perspective. I gather data from the Pacific Northwest and midwestern states of the U.S., the Caribbean islands, and Tanzania, Africa.
For analyses of ancient ecosystems I collect and examine fossils and rocks; for investigations of modern ecosystems, for example reefs, I photograph shallow-water corals and collect their ambient waters with use of SCUBA equipment (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). My geologic training has been in marine ecosystems, but I’ve expanded my field studies and scholarly research publications to Caribbean archaeology, and to fossil bivalves in freshwater riverine systems at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, Africa, where my work contributes to a deeper understanding of ancient environments during the evolution of hominins.
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At present, global warming, ocean acidification, and urbanization are occurring at an unprecedented rate across the globe, placing the records of ancient ecosystems and modern natural ecosystems at great risk, and adding a sense of urgency for my research.
Many critical questions on ecosystem stability remain unanswered, and I invite bright, passionate students to join my research group. Under my direction, graduate and undergraduate students receive essential field- and laboratory-based training that allows them to evolve as independent researchers.