My interest in fossils was sparked by watching PBS as a child in rural central Wisconsin. I grew up surrounded by cornfields on the surface of the Great Unconformity and had to content myself by collecting fieldstones (soapstone and quartz). I initially wanted to study dinosaurs. I found my way to my present work through fateful statistics and isotope geochemistry classes that occurred in conjunction with encountering the Buckhorn Asphalt part of the Boggy Formation, in Oklahoma. I became interested in understanding the ecology of cephalopods by using geochemical methods.
I earned my B.S. at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and then moved back to Wisconsin to study in Madison. I earned my MS and PhD in geoscience from the University of Wisconsin, where I focused on applying in situ geochemistry to a variety of ecological questions related to modern and fossil cephalopods. I moved to Northwestern University to study ocean acidification as a postdoctoral fellow before returning to Madison for a second postdoctoral fellowship. In my spare time, I like to build things (home renovation), cook things (from sourdough to smoked meats to veggie burgers from scratch), and paint miniatures for tabletop gaming!
Download my curriculum vitae.
PhD in Geoscience, 2017
University of Wisconsin - Madison
MS in Geoscience, 2012
University of Wisconsin - Madison
BSc in Geology, 2009
Bowling Green State University
Paleotemperatures based on δ18O values derived from belemnites are usually “too cold” compared to other archives and paleoclimate models. This temperature bias represents a significant obstacle in paleoceanographic research. Here we show geochemical evidence that belemnite calcite fibers are composed of two distinct low-Mg calcite phases (CP1, CP2). Phase-specific in situ measurement of δ18O values revealed a systematic offset of up to 2‰ (~8 °C), showing a lead–lag signal between both phases in analyses spaced less than 25 µm apart and a total fluctuation of 3.9‰ (~16 °C) within a 2 cm × 2 cm portion of a Megateuthis (Middle Jurassic) rostrum. We explain this geochemical offset and the lead–lag signal for both phases by the complex biomineralization of the belemnite rostrum. The biologically controlled formation of CP1 is approximating isotope fractionation conditions with ambient seawater to be used for temperature calculation. In contrast, CP2 indicates characteristic non-isotope equilibrium with ambient seawater due to its formation via an amorphous Ca-Mg carbonate precursor at high solid-to-liquid ratio, i.e., limited amounts of water were available during its transformation to calcite, thus suggesting lower formation temperatures. CP2 occludes syn vivo the primary pore space left after formation of CP1. Our findings support paleobiological interpretations of belemnites as shelf-dwelling, pelagic predators and call for a reassessment of paleoceanographic reconstructions based on belemnite stable isotope data.
Carbon dioxide release during Deccan Traps volcanism and the Chicxulub impact likely contributed to the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction; however, the intensity and duration of CO2 input differed between the two events. Large and rapid addition of CO2 to seawater causes transient decreases in pH, [CO32–], and carbonate mineral saturation states. Compensating mechanisms, such as dissolution of seafloor sediment, reduced biomineralization, and silicate weathering, mitigate these effects by increasing the same parameters. The calcium isotope ratios (δ44/40Ca) of seawater and marine carbonates are hypothesized to respond to these perturbations through weathering/carbonate deposition flux imbalances and/or changes in fractionation between carbonate minerals and seawater. We used a high-precision thermal ionization mass spectrometry method to measure δ44/40Ca values of aragonitic bivalve and gastropod mollusk shells from the K-Pg interval of the López de Bertodano Formation on Seymour Island, Antarctica. Well-preserved shells spanning the late Maastrichtian (ca. 67 Ma) to early Danian (ca. 65.5 Ma) have δ44/40Ca values ranging from −1.89‰ to −1.57‰ (seawater [sw]). Shifts in δ44/40Ca inversely correlate with sedimentological indicators of saturation state. A negative excursion begins before and continues across the K-Pg boundary. According to a simple mass-balance model, neither input/output flux imbalances nor change in the globally integrated bulk carbonate fractionation factor can produce variations in seawater δ44/40Ca sufficient to explain the measured trends. The data are consistent with a dynamic molluscan Ca isotope fractionation factor sensitive to the carbonate geochemistry of seawater. The K-Pg extinction appears to have occurred during a period of carbonate saturation state variability caused by Deccan volcanism.