Professor • Department of
Broadly speaking, my research goals are focused on gaining a deeper understanding of how Earth's climate has changed in the past, and how we can use this knowledge to better predict future changes under an anthropogenic greenhouse gas-induced warming planet. More specific, my research involves using geochemical tracers preserved in sedimentary archives (including speleothems, lake sediments, fossil fish teeth) to reconstruct the geologic history (last approx. 100 million years) history of climate variability. I am particularly focused on building high-resolution and well-dated paleoclimate records—using stable isotopes (of C and O) and trace elements (Mg, Sr, Ba, P, U) as tracers for past environmental changes—to better understand the role of the tropics in global climate change over a range of time periods (e.g. glacial-interglacial, the Common Era). Whilst the environmentally-sensitive geochemical tracers preserved in cave deposits are primarily controlled by fluctuations in temperature, rainfall, and/or the overlying vegetation (above the cave), the underlying processes controlling the cycling of these tracers through the atmosphere, soil, and karst systems are extremely complex. Hence, my research employs a multi-pronged approach of combining modern cave drip-water studies and geochemical modeling, with the chemical and physical analysis of fossil stalagmites, to gain a deeper understanding of how these processes govern the isotopic and trace-elemental signals in the cave carbonate; understanding these processes is essential for robust environmental interpretations of the natural archives. I currently have ongoing projects in Australasia (China, Laos, Indonesia, Australia). In addition, I am also working on lake sediment and wetland projects based in NJ in collaboration with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Finally, I am working on a collaborative project involving the geochemical analysis of fossil fish/shark teeth from species covering the past approx. 100 million years, with the intent to reconstruct the paleobiology and paleoenvironmental history of various species and ocean basins respectively. Another key aspect of my research involves merging paleoclimate records with General Climate Model (GCM) simulations. Specifically, I am interested in using speleothems to help validate/improve the performance of GCMs, and in particular, assessing how well they simulate the Australasian monsoon systems over the past millennium. The GCM results are also being used to test different hypotheses regarding the mechanisms for past ocean-atmospheric circulation in Australasia.
Paleoclimatology/GeochemistryNo publications uploaded at this time.
Notable Courses Taught
General Geology (ENV1150); General Geology (summer session I, ENV1150-70); Oceanography (ENV2170); Global Climate Change (ENV3170); Junior Seminar (ENV3800); and Senior Practicum (ENV4800). I have also advised students for Field Experience (ENV3010) and Independent Study (ENV4990).