Blake Dyer, Ph.D. Student
Ancient atmospheres and organisms are intricately tied to the geologic processes defining the surface of our planet, particularly the way in which sedimentary geology manifests itself in the geologic record, physically and chemically. The rocks in this record represent pages of a vast history book from which we can glean fascinating stories of the ancient earth. Interpreting these clues to the past requires fundamental understanding of the chemical behaviors of isotope systems as well as the ability to piece together complex and incomplete field observations while maintaining a firm handle on time. I am interested in investigating the current natural world as well as the geologic record with this perspective in an attempt to garner a greater understanding of the interactions between different forces of our dynamic planet throughout Earth’s history.
Jennifer J. Kasbohm, Ph.D. Student
As geography is vital to understand patterns of glaciation and sea level rise in our present world, it is also necessary for the study of Earth’s past. Crucial Precambrian questions, ranging from the nature of Archean tectonics to the rise of animal life, depend upon knowledge of where continents were located and how quickly they moved. My research will use paleomagnetism and geochronology to find these locations and rates, and to learn more about Earth's ancient geomagnetic field. By placing these tools in the context of stratigraphic field observations, I aim to produce novel continuous records of plate motion. My first field season tackled crucial intervals in the 2.7 Ga Fortescue Formation in Pilbara, Western Australia, and I also hope to study the Ediacaran Ouarzazate Formation in Morocco.
Akshay K. Mehra, Ph.D. Student
Having studied architecture as an undergraduate, I am interested in the spatial nature of geology and aim to develop novel techniques for interrogating geologic records. Much of my work to date has focused on using spatial tools and methodologies (including remote sensing) to address human rights violations. Since 2012, I have worked on the development of the Grinding, Imaging and Reconstruction Instrument [GIRI] at the Princeton Grinder Lab. My initial research will utilize GIRI to produce accurate reconstructions and scientific visualizations of ancient life from fossils embedded in various samples.
Alliya A. Akhtar, , Ph.D. Student
An appreciation of the coevolution of the Earth and its biosphere requires a focus on the integration and application of low temperature geochemistry to the paleontological and sedimentary record. I am particularly interested in studying the chemical and climatic conditions governing times of not only proliferation, but also distress of animal life. Employing various isotope systems can aid in establishing constraints on changes in climate and ocean chemistry. Coupling this with isotopic studies in modern environments will aid in better understanding the information we derive from these proxies.
Anne-Sofie Crüger Ahm
I am a Ph.D student in geology from the University of Copenhagen, and I am at Princeton as a Visiting Student Research Collaborator (VSRC) working with Adam Maloof. I am inspired by the combination of geology with other natural sciences such as climate physics, oceanography, and atmospheric chemistry. My main interest is on Earth’s systems and biogeochemical cycles. While at Princeton I will be investigating the link between the element cycling of redox sensitive elements, and the conditions of the Neoproterozoic ocean as recorded by carbon, oxygen, calcium and strontium isotopes.
Ali Campion ’16 was awarded the Newton Family Scholar “super thesis” award from the Princeton Environmental Institute to research the Late Paleozoic Ice Age (~300 million years ago) as an analogue to the Plio-Pleistocene ice age that we are in now. In her first summer of field work, Ali spent two months in Great Britain studying the paleotropical stratigraphic record of waxing and waning ice sheets. Specifically, she hopes to use physical and isotope stratigraphy, combined with biostratigraphy and U-Pb geochronology to understand how the amplitude and frequency of ancient ice volume changes compare to those of the modern climate system.
Anna van Brummen '16 is using a combination of hand-held and drone-derived images of late Cambrian stromatolite beds to determine how the spatial distribution of stromatolite size, shape, and laminations relates to paleoenvironment. Her field areas are near Saratoga Springs, NY and northern New Jersey.
Adrian Tasistro-Hart '17 and Ray Bartolucci '17 are working as technicians in the Grinder Lab after spending the summer as PEI interns doing field work in Namibia.
Previous Group Members
Nick Swanson-Hysell *11 currently is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Science at UC Berkeley. Before that, Nick was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Rock Magnetism (University of Minnesota) under the supervision of Josh Feinberg. Nick also served as a visiting faculty member at Carleton College and taught Sedimentology. Nick graduated from Princeton in September 2011 with a thesis entitled: "Stratigraphic Records of Paleogeography, Climate and Ocean Chemistry from Two Late Proterozoic Basins" - PhD Thesis.
Catherine Rose *12 currently is a Professor at Trinity College Dublin. Before that she was a Steve Fossett Postdoctoral Fellow at Washington University, collaborating with David Fike. Catherine graduated from Princeton in May 2012 with a thesis entitled "Comings and Goings of the end-Cryogenian ice sheet: A stratigraphic study of the pre-, syn-, and post-glacial deposits, South Australia" - PhD Thesis.
Jon Husson *14 currently is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, collaborating with Shanan Peters on the GeoDeepDive project. Jon graduated from Princeton in September 2014 with a thesis entitled “Constraining Timing and Origin of Unusual Carbon Cycle Dynamics in the Terminal Proterozoic and Middle Paleozoic Eons.”
Bob Kopp is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University, serves as the Associate Director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, and is an associate member of the graduate faculty of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Prior to his appointment at Rutgers, Bob served as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Policy and International Affairs. From 2007-2009, Bob was a STEP Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton with Michael Oppenheimer and Adam Maloof. During that time, Bob and Adam published papers on sea level during the last interglacial period, magnetization of Holocene platformal carbonates in the Bahamas, and Paleocene-Eocene boundary climate and ocean geochemical change recorded in marine sediments from the Atlantic margin of the US.
Kevin Lewis currently is an assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University, and a PI Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. While a Hess Postdoctoral fellow at Princeton, Kevin used the stratigraphic records exposed on planetary bodies to understand their geologic history. In order to do that effectively, Kevin studied cyclic stratigraphic records on Earth such as the Eocene Green River Formation of the western United States, which records the evolution of a number of large lacustrine basins over several million years. The goal of this research was to investigate the causes of repetitive fluctuations in depositional conditions through time, which have been suggested to result from changes in the Earth's orbital (Milankovitch) parameters. Our study involved the synthesis of remote sensing data and field observations to quantitatively evaluate this hypothesis by applying spectral techniques to the recovered stratigraphic signals.
Ryan Ewing was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton in 2009-2010. While here, Ryan helped develop the aeolian curriculum and field trips for GEO 370/570 Sedimentology. He also drew on his expertise studying sand dunes on Earth and Mars, and began a project studying aeolian sediments deposited during the Marinoan glaciation 640 million years ago. Ryan currently is an assistant professor at Texas A&M.
Claire Calmet spent a semester as a postdoc at Princeton in 2009. Initially trained as a population geneticist, and deeply interested in all aspects of Earth and Life History, she participated in the 3D modeling of pre-Marinoan fossils, and performed geochemical analyses on sediments from the Cryogenian period. Claire currently is working at a publishing house in Paris, France editing Earth and Life Science textbooks.
Amandine Katz - Amandine was a visiting M.S. student in Spring 2012 that studied the δ18O record of changing sea surface temperature and ice volume during the Late Paleozoic Ice Age. Specifically, she separated phosphate from the apatite teeth of ancient eel-like fish (conodonts) for the δ18O analyses, and she studied δ18O variability at very high temporal resolution, with up to 25 samples per shallowing-upward carbonate parasequence thought to define a glacial-interglacial cycle. She also studied the lateral variability of δ18O as carbonate lithofacies change on lengthscales of 0.1-10 km within individual carbonate parasequences.
Alex Spatzier currently is a graduate student in the Architecture School at UC Berkeley. Alex came to Princeton from the Physics and Math departments at Oberlin, with a research background in Astrophysics. He served as the Head Technician for the Princeton Grinder Lab from February until August, 2013.
Laura Poppick - After graduating from Bates College, Laura spent 2010-2011 at Princeton as the lab manager for Blair Schoene and Adam Maloof. Currently she is a graduate student in the science writing program at UC Santa Cruz and an intern at Live Science.
Cristi Proistosescu ’09 - Cristi graduated from the Princeton Physics department in 2009. His thesis is in press with Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Currently Cristi is a Ph.D. student at Harvard University with Peter Huybers . His senior thesis was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
Michael Eddy ’11 is currently a Ph.D. student studying under Professor Sam Bowring at MIT. During his time at Princeton, he studied the trace element chemostratigraphy of several early Cambrian carbonate sections in Morocco as part of a Junior Paper. Specifically, he focused on temporal variations in redox sensitive trace elements as a proxy for changing oxygen levels in the Cambrian ocean. His junior paper was published in GSA Bulletin.
Christine Chen ‘13 currently is a Ph.D. student at MIT. At Princeton, she studied the 565 million year old Wonoka Formation paleo-submarine canyons of South Australia for her junior thesis. For her senior thesis, she mapped transgressive Bonneville shoreline sequences from around Great Salt Lake, Utah. Next, she modeled the relative contribution of laurentide ice load and local lake load to explain nuanced shoreline geometry. It turned out that the size and shape of Bonneville basin is a direct constraint on the size and shape of the Laurentide ice sheet. Her junior paper is in press in American Journal of Science, and her Senior thesis is in review at Quaternary Science Reviews
Charlotte Conner '14 conducted a Junior thesis focused on the forensic geoarchaeology of the materials used to build the ancient city of Marion (7th-4th century BCE) in Polis Chrysochous, Cyprus. Specifically, she used a combination of trace elements δ13C and δ18O to fingerprint specific building materials and link them to ancient quarries in Cyprus and abroad.
Sarah Bluher ’14 conducted her senior thesis on the stratigraphy, geochemistry and geochronology of Siluro-Devonian carbonate beds in upstate New York. Specifically, she studied temporal and spatial gradients in the trace element and stable isotope composition of shells preserved in ash bound limestones. Her senior thesis is in review at Earth and Planetary Science Letters.