Life / Earth Interaction
The interaction between the solid Earth and Life is essential to unraveling questions related to mass extinctions, evolution, the origins of life, and climate change. Our faculty are interested in diverse research areas from paleontology, biogeochemistry, sea level change, and climatic forcing.
Paleontology: Paleontology research focuses on the evolution of Mesozoic terrestrial paleoenvironments, particularly those containing dinosaurs and other terrestrial vertebrates. Many paleobiological questions are uniquely addressed through geological means and here the sedimentary geology of a variety of terrestrial settings – from the Triassic of Arizona, to the Cetaceous of Mongolia, to the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary in the upper Great Plains of the United States – are studied to gain insights into fundamental questions in terrestrial vertebrate evolution.
Biogeochemistry: Current investigations into the deep biosphere on Earth are showing life persists to kilometers below the planetary surface, and extraterrestrial habitats are likely in subsurface ultramafics and/or oceans. Research examines biogeochemical processes in energy-poor environments, such as cool, dark, low energy settings in deep sea sediments and ophiolites undergoing alteration, and considers their importance to biogeochemical cycling, the origin of life on Earth, and astrobiology
Microbiology / Ecology: Research spans aspects of the ecology and microbiology of soil, water and wastewater. We are interested in understanding the interplay among microorganisms, flora and fauna, and the physical environment, and how this affects the biogeochemical processes they carry out, as well as their fate. This knowledge can be used to address a variety of contemporary environmental problems, from greenhouse gas emissions from soils to identifying the sources of bacterial contamination in surface waters to soil quality and sustainable agricultural production.
Soil / Life Interactions: See Water Resources
Land Use: See Remote Sensing