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Geobiology Faculty Profiles

Simon Brassell

Professor of Geological Sciences. Molecular and isotopic characteristics of organic matter. Biogeochemical processes. Paleoclimates. Biochemical evolution. Petroleum Carbon cycling.

Research is in molecular organic geochemistry and the development of molecular tools in the evaluation of depositional environments and paleoclimate analysis. Particular applications in Economic Geology are the identification of petroleum source rocks and evaluation of processes responsible for petroleum formation and accumulation.

Erika Elswick

Senior Lecturer and Director, Analytical Geochemistry Laboratory. Stable isotopes in sedimentary environments and ore deposits. Metals in the environment. Tropical soils. Low temperature hydrothermal rock–water interactions. Microbial activity.

Research Interests: Stable isotopes in sedimentary environments (past and present), and their application to the development of sedimentary ore deposits. The fate of metals in the environment, and the development of tropical soils. Low temperature hydrothermal rock-water interactions at oceanic spreading ridges, and the influences and interactions with microbial activity and microbial byproducts associated with these rock-water interactions. Environmental changes recorded in soils associated with archaeological sites.

Ed Herrmann

Research Scientist. Geoarchaeology, sedimentation and stratigraphy, deposition and geomorphology in fluvial systems.

My geoarchaeological research is multidisciplinary in nature. I use geological principles to answer archaeological questions related to subsistence technologies, landscape utilization and site taphonomy, preservation, and predictive modeling. I am particularly interested in how fluvial systems influence site burial, erosion and preservation. Although most of my research focuses on the Paleoindian and Early Archaic period hunter-gatherers, I have experience in Native American mound construction methods, chronologies and taphonomy. I use coring methods to understand stratigraphy, sedimentation and paleoenvironments in a non-invasive fashion.

Claudia Johnson

Associate Professor of Geological Sciences. Geobiology. Caribbean geology. Reefs. Evolution of rudistid bivalves. Paleoclimate.

Claudia’s research interests focus on the evolution and extinction history of corals, rudist bivalves and other reef organisms. Claudia studies reef ecosystem evolution and the relation of reefs to tropical paleoclimatology and paleoceanography. Recent interests include the investigation of hierarchy theory, and the fit of reefs into this theoretical framework, as well as the integration of mathematics and reef systems. Claudia has edited volumes on the Evolution of the Cretaceous Ocean-Climate System (GSA Special Paper 332, 1999), and Land-Ocean Interactions of Carbon Cycle and Bio-diversity Change during the Cretaceous in Asia (Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, Special Issue, 2003). Claudia holds strong research interests in Caribbean and East Asian tropical carbonates and sedimentary geology, as well as in Cretaceous, Oligocene and Pleistocene paleoceanography and paleoclimatology.

Claudia’s C.V. [PDF]

Gary Motz

Research Associate. CBRC Project Coordinator/Paleontology Center for Biological Research Collections

Research is focused on a number of paleobiological problems, many of which involve some aspect of mollusc (gastropod and bivalve) biodiversity in modern and deep time environments. Phanerozoic biodiversity and onshore/offshore dynamics of gastropods and their contribution to the diversification of molluscan clades, primarily via a diversification mechanism known as the "estuary effect," was the main focus of his work for his masters thesis. Gary has also spent a fair amount of time examining the diversity, biogeography and integrated biostratigraphy of graptolites and conodonts around the Ordovician/Silurian boundary in central Idaho

Jackson Njau

Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences. Paleoanthropology, Paleontology. Early hominid evolution and environments in Olduvai Gorge and other areas in East Africa

Jackson is a paleoanthropologist interested in hominid evolution and paleoenvironments of East Africa. His research integrates vertebrate taphonomy, zooarchaeology and actualistic studies to reconstruct paleolandscapes in which early hominids evolved. His recent studies include crocodile feeding behavior and its taphonomic and ecological implications for human evolution. Jackson is co-directing multidisciplinary projects in Tanzania, which provide field and laboratory opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students interested in geological sciences, vertebrate paleontology, paleoanthropology, archaeology and anthropology.

P. David Polly

Professor, Geological Sciences; Adjunct Professor, Departments of Biology and Anthropology; Director, Center for Biological Research Collections; Research Curator, IU Paleontology Collection; Affiliate Member, Integrated Program in the Environment; Research Associate, Department of Zoology, The Field Museum, Chicago. Link to the Polly Lab at IU.

David is a vertebrate paleontologist interested in the evolution of mammals, the evolution of skeletal structures, functional morphology, climatic and faunal change, and the links between genetics, development, and macroevolution. He studies paleogene, neogene, and living mammals using quantitative analysis, especially geometric morphometrics.

David’s C.V. [PDF]

Lisa M. Pratt

Provost’s Professor of Geological Sciences. Geomicrobiology of extremophiles. Biotic and abiotic fractionation of S isotopes. Life- detection probes for deployment in Mars subsurface. Cretaceous C isotope excursions.

Under the general theme of Earth as an analogue for Mars, I am interested in natural settings and laboratory experiments that help us understand microbial adaptations to harsh conditions and resource limitation in evaporative lakes and deep groundwater.