Fossil plants are extremely sensitive indicators of past climates, plant-insect interactions, biodiversity, and the effects of major environmental disturbances. These data provide deep-time analogs that uniquely illuminate modern ecosystems and their possible responses to anthropogenic change. I am a paleobotanist who studies the latest Cretaceous through middle Eocene, 67-45 million years ago (Ma), an interval characterized by global disturbances that are closely spaced in geologic time. These include latest Cretaceous warming and cooling (68-66 Ma), the end-Cretaceous mass extinction (66 Ma) and ensuing recovery during the Paleocene (66-56 Ma), and both abrupt and long-term warming across the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (56 Ma). My research involves extensive field work in the Western Interior of the USA and Patagonia, Argentina, where I am studying the origins of Southern Hemisphere plant and insect diversity using outstandingly preserved fossil floras.

Awards and Achievements

  • Fellow, Paleontological Society ( 2017)
  • Fellow, Geological Society of America ( 2016)
  • Paul F. Robertson Research Breakthrough of the Year Award, Penn State College of Earth & Mineral Sciences ( 2016)
  • Distinguished Member, National Society of Collegiate Scholars ( 2014)
  • George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, Pennsylvania State University ( 2013)
  • Kavli Fellow ( 2011)
  • Distinguished Lecturer, The Paleontological Society ( 2009-2012)
  • John T. Ryan Jr. Faculty Fellow, Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences ( 2005)
  • Michigan Fellow, University of Michigan ( 1999-2002)

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