Alex Corsello, Biology & Earth Sciences Graduate

Alex at Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca, NY.

Hello! My name is Alex Corsello and I recently graduated from Binghamton University studying Biology and Earth Science. I’m originally from Virginia, but grew up in Katonah NY, about an hour from New York City (yes there are dirt roads). Additionally, I will be staying at Binghamton to pursue my Masters of Arts in Teaching Earth Science. I am a big fan of hiking, running and baking. While not in the lab I have visited over 100 national parks across the United States, ranging from Yosemite to a tiny house on the corner of a street in Philadelphia. 

I am a paleontologist who studies foraminifera, or forams for short, particularly within the Miocene Period (roughly between 5 and 23 million years ago). My research specifically focuses on determining two things. First, where does the foram species Globoquadrina dehiscens live in the water column in a mid-latitude site?  Second, can G. dehiscens be used as an indicator for past ocean temperatures conditions? Samples are taken from cores drilled through the International Ocean Discovery Program, washed and then picked by size for the particular species that I am studying. Then, using the shell of the organism my samples are sent to Hamilton College, where they are analyzed for both oxygen and carbon isotopes. These isotopic ratios help to provide a picture of the temperature of the water where the organism lived and how productivity there was in the region where this was taking place. Thus it becomes possible to reconstruct ocean conditions. The goal of our lab is to help determine how ocean conditions changed in response to various climate variables in the past in order to best predict how they might change again under a warming climate. 

Alex and a class of second graders at Finn Academy in Elmira, NY, where he conducted an outreach program with the students.

I have always been a bit of a nature nerd… I went to ecology camp starting in first grade. But growing up I always thought I would be a historian. This changed when I took Biology in high school and I became fascinated with how life works. Every part of life, even if it seems really distant, is connected in some way and I think that’s really cool. I started as a Biology major and after taking my first geology class as part of my Biology degree I was hooked. I have been working on earth science research ever since. My favorite part of science is getting to tackle real world problems and to try to make a positive difference for others through your work. You never know what idea could be the key to a big discovery or the tool that solves a pressing problem. There is also something incredibly magical about getting people interested in science. The excitement that comes with learning is infectious and watching those who may have previously been adverse to science start to connect is really powerful. 

Alex presenting his research in poster format the Joint Southeastern/Northeastern Geological Society of America meeting in Reston, VA.

Take risks- That seemingly crazy idea that you came up with while on the toilet at 3 am may help define your path. A lot of the time, yeah, you’ll fail. But it is those few experiences where you succeed that can help to define your path both as a scientist and human being. They are what lead to more opportunities and a whole host of new people and places. Also don’t be afraid to use your resources. There are people who are in your corner who will be there to advocate for you. Don’t be afraid to get their help. You will be much better off for it.

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