I am interested in reconstructing conditions in the ocean and atmosphere from earlier in Earth history, to better understand how Earth's climate system has operated before humans walked the planet. To accomplish this, I select tiny buried microfossils (foraminifera) from deep underneath the seafloor and analyze different components of their shell chemistry, since this chemistry holds a record of the ancient ocean environment when the specimen was alive. Specifically, I focus on measuring isotopes of the element boron in the shells of planktic foraminifera, which gives quantitative estimates of surface ocean acidity and is an important way we can estimate carbon dioxide levels in the ancient atmosphere.
In my graduate research, I am assessing how atmospheric carbon dioxide has changed in the Cenozoic (last 66 million years), and I'm interested in identifying processes within Earth's climate system that has contributed to these fluctuations through time. Along with carefully measuring microfossil shell geochemistry and gaining estimates of seawater chemistry and atmospheric conditions over these broad timescales, I am investigating how the paleo-ecology of extinct species of planktic foraminifera informs these estimates in the earlier Cenozoic.
Research Advisor: Bärbel Hönisch