Great Collaborations Began with Great Music

Our names are Adriane Lam and Jen Bauer. We both work with the fossil record to discern the relationships between life and climate. We met in the fall of 2014 while working as graduate students at Ohio University under Dr. Alycia Stigall. Although we knew from the start we would be friends because we were both obsessed with fossils, our friendship really took off one fateful day when Adriane jumped in Jen’s car while Jen had a Disturbed album playing. From that moment on, we’ve been conducting awesome science and collaborating ever since!

Adriane (left) and Jen (right) after finding an epic slab of ancient ripples off the side of a highway in Ohio.

We were fortunate enough to attend a university very close to abundant fossil localities. We spent time digging around in marine rocks from the Ordovician and even some ancient beach and terrestrial environments of the Pennsylvanian. This provided us with our own set of wonderful fossils that we can share with our friends, students, and family.

Since our early grad school years, we have been advocates of science and science accessibility, often working with young students and lovers of science. In addition, we are also professional researchers and teachers within our respective universities. We both have extensive experience talking with the general public about science, and love to explain what we do to others. In addition, we’re always happy to answer science related questions!

Adriane Lam

Adriane with her fossils participating in education outreach with Jurassic Roadshow.

Adriane is working towards obtaining her Ph.D. at University of Massachusetts Amherst with Dr. R. Mark Leckie. For her Master’s degree, Adriane worked with invertebrate organisms in the Ordovician (a period in Earth history that includes rocks that are 450 million years old). Now, she works in the Cenozoic (the time from 66 million years ago to today) reconstructing ancient ocean currents, namely western boundary currents, using a type of single-celled protist called planktic foraminifera. In addition, she uses these organisms to uncover unanswered questions pertaining to the rise of new species in our world oceans. As a researcher, she obtains most of her fossils and sediment through the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), and works closely with other scientists involved with the program. Adriane has worked with kids of all ages, and has run workshops at UMass Amherst for local Boy Scout troops to obtain their geology merit badges. In addition, she regularly volunteers with a local rock and fossil group, Jurassic Roadshow, in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. When Adriane isn’t conducting research, she enjoys hiking in the mountains of New England with her husband, cuddling with her cats, and organizing the massive amounts of rocks and fossils she has obtained over the years.

Jen Bauer

Jen celebrating National Fossil Day at The Muse Knoxville!
Jen celebrating National Fossil Day at The Muse Knoxville!

Jen is working as a postdoctoral associate at the Florida Museum of Natural History focusing on the FOSSIL Project and the newly created Thompson Institute for Earth Systems. She completed her PhD at The University of Tennessee with Dr. Colin Sumrall. She focuses on understanding the evolution of an extinct group of echinoderms called blastoids. Her research has focused on incorporating the internal anatomy (respiratory structures, gut, gonads) into understanding the evolution of the group through the Paleozoic. Jen’s Master’s degree was centered on understanding the evolutionary relationships of an extinct (no longer living) group of brachiopods. Jen has been heavily involved with evolution outreach through Darwin Day events at UT and other projects to provide fossils to local educators. She is an avid volunteer at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture and provides classroom visits to discuss geology and fossils at local schools. In her spare time, Jen enjoys trail running, mountain biking, hiking, knitting Harry Potter scarves, and lounging with her two cats.

Jen and Adriane enjoying a summer sunset on a beach in northern Estonia, overlooking the Gulf of Finland.

Copy Editor

Susanna Fraass

Susanna Fraass is a lover of the rules of the English language, but don’t ask her to explain them. She proofreads everything her husband writes. (Ask what happened the time she didn’t.) She hopes her contributions to this site will include telling the authors when they have scienced too hard. Susanna wants you to know that she has an irrational hatred of conglomerate.

Site Collaborators

Rose Borden

Rose is currently an MS Geology student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville working with Dr. Devon Burr. Originally intending to study faults (places where earthquakes have occurred by rocks being pushed together or pulled apart) in the Appalachians, she has instead found herself studying faults on Mars. Her thesis research is primarily focused on finding and analyzing ridges formed by past earthquakes on Mars. She first became interested in geology as a child going to visit her grandfather, who is also fascinated by all things geological. It was there she learned to pan for gold, identify several rocks and minerals, and lick a rock to find out the true color (don’t try this at home!). Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest near beautiful Seattle and the Cascade Mountain foothills, Rose has always been interested in earthquakes and volcanoes. When she discovered that she could study them beyond just checking books out from the library, she jumped at the chance and got her B.S. in Geology from Central Washington University by way of Green River Community College (now Green River College). Her main interest in pursuing a career in geology is to understand the ways that people and infrastructure interact with geology and find ways to mitigate geologic hazards (landslides, floods, earthquakes).

In her free time, Rose enjoys baking, reading, walking in the woods, and volunteering with the middle school youth group at her church.

Dipa Desai

Dipa is a first-generation MS/PhD student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the Micropaleontology Lab, where she studies paleoclimate science and paleoceanography with Dr. Mark Leckie. She was the first in her family to receive an undergraduate degree– a Bachelor’s of Science in  Biology at the University of North Carolina. Dipa pursued paleoclimate research through the National Park Service’s Mosaics in Science and the National Science Foundation’s Panama Canal Project internships. She stepped into the classroom for 2 years as an AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellow to understand how to communicate STEM topics to broader audiences and to promote STEM careers to underserved, global-majority communities. Currently, she studies how warmer-than-present paleoclimates affected marine microfauna in Antarctica, and she is interested in applying research outcomes to improving current environmental policies and using inclusive teaching strategies to open accessibility to STEM education. She enjoys judging the Massachusetts Middle School State Science Fair every year and participating in local STEM outreach events. In her free time, you can find her in the kitchen creating culinary masterpieces.

Andy Fraass

Andy has a Master’s in Geoscience from the University of Wisconsin and Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. While he’s currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bristol, he’s done time at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) and Sam Houston State University. He studies planktic foraminifera, amoeba-like single celled marine organisms that produce a ‘shell’ made of calcium carbonate. Planktic forams have been around since the late Jurassic (around 160 million years ago) and are a key way of understanding what the past oceans were like. By identifying specific species we can determine the age of the sediment, what the oceans were like, what the temperature was when they were growing, the community structure, and what the carbon cycle was doing. Because forams been around for so long, we’ve used them to understand a diverse set of past climates. Andy is most interested in studying how evolution, climate, and oceanography mix together. He has a broad range of experience in cyclostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, paleoceanography, paleobiology, and has enough statistical knowledge to be dangerous. Andy has a wife and 5 year old kid, so most of his free time is spent running after his daughter.

Kyle Hartshorn

Kyle at the Chimney Bluffs State Park in New York

Kyle is citizen scientist, representing the outstanding tradition of amateur paleontology. He lives in Cincinnati, that famed river town where hills packed with 450 million year old fossils have stirred geological passion in generations of naturalists, himself included. Despite this siren song, Kyle somehow managed to become a software developer instead of a geologist. Tragic. Still, on nights and weekends, he’s reading paleontological journals, slogging through creeks to rediscover forgotten localities, tracking down obscure museum specimens, documenting new outcrops, and collecting fossils to be donated to museums. He is a member of the Dry Dredgers, the oldest avocational paleontological society in the United States. Like many in the group, Kyle works closely with professors and graduate students at the University of Cincinnati and other institutions to study the Ordovician and Silurian strata and fauna of the Cincinnati region. More specifically, he is frequently spotted with Dr. Carlton Brett, as the two share an enthusiasm for Paleozoic stratigraphy, echinoderms, field work, and geologizing past sunset. When time allows, Kyle illustrates digital reconstructions of ancient sea life. He also has an unparalleled ability to procrastinate when asked to write short autobiographies, and is cursed with both a droll wit and an unfortunate need to take on more projects than are humanly possible to complete.

Mike Hils

Mike is currently a lab tech for the Department of Chemistry at the University of Dayton. Previously, he taught for at the University of Dayton for the Department of Geology and the Department of Chemistry. He also taught for the University of Mississippi’s Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, and the Department of Geological Sciences at the Ohio University. He earned his master’s degree at Ohio University with research in neoichnology using burrowing spiders as a study animal. Ichnology is the study of fossilized footprints, burrows, and other organism traces. Mike’s work focused on comparing the burrows produced by spiders to burrows found in the fossil record. He also helped develop an online catalog of burrows for the Continental Neiochnology Database. When Mike isn’t in the lab or the classroom, he enjoys looking at old buildings, going through natural history museums, and looking at the night sky.

Maggie Limbeck

Maggie is currently working on her Ph.D. at The University of Tennessee with Dr. Colin Sumrall. While getting her undergraduate degree in geology at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, she fell in love with all things echinoderm (modern sea stars and sea urchins). Her undergraduate research focused on how ocean acidification due to climate change would affect sea urchin taphonomy (how their skeletons break apart after they die). After starting her Master’s degree, that research shifted to understanding the evolutionary history of arguably the craziest group of extinct echinoderms: the paracrinoids. Now that she has started her Ph.D., she is hoping to keep working with extinct echinoderms, but is also interested in looking into what elements are incorporated into sea urchin skeletons and what she can learn about how echinoderms build their skeletons! When Maggie isn’t doing research, she loves to do outreach and show her community that science is fun and accessible to everyone, she volunteers at the local museum, does school visits, and has worked with Darwin Day at the University of Tennessee to share evolutionary science with the campus and community. In her free time, Maggie likes to go hiking, kayaking, read spy novels, and hang out with her cat!

Shaina Rogstad

Shaina Rogstad is a PhD Candidate at UMass Amherst in the Geosciences department working with Dr. Alan Condron and Dr. Rob DeConto. Her research uses global climate models and regional ice models to understand how changes in the Antarctic Ice Sheet could impact future global climate as anthropogenic emissions increase over time. She found her way to earth sciences by happenstance after taking a very meandering route. She was the first in her family to attend college, beginning at Manchester Community College before obtaining bachelors degrees in astrophysics and physics. During her undergraduate time she did research into galaxy evolution and gravitational waves. From there she went on to do a Masters in Applied Mathematics studying quantum mechanics and disease spread. She eventually found her way to climate science and now spends her time debugging computer code and doing public outreach to students of all ages and community groups. In her free time she enjoys dancing, gardening, documenting the biodiversity in her local area, and hanging out with bunnies and squirrels.

Megan Thompson-Munson

Megan is a current Geology master’s student at the University of Wyoming where she studies glaciology with Dr. Neil Humphrey. Her research focuses on marginal Greenland Ice Sheet dynamics, which means she collects borehole data to learn more about the mechanisms of ice sheet movement and glacial hydrology. Megan has always had an interest in climate-related research, and more importantly, sharing that research with others. Her internship working as a park ranger at Mount Rainier National Park gave her the opportunity to communicate science every day. She also received dual undergraduate degrees in Geology and Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she studied East African paleoclimate through biogeochemical analyses. Megan is always looking for ways to integrate geology into other people’s lives and share her adventures with others. Now in Wyoming, Megan volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters, hikes, and attempts to rock climb (but gets too distracted by the awesome granite), and enjoys trying new cheese from the local cheese shop.

Cameron Muskelly

Cam is a recent high school graduate and an avocational paleontologist and geologist. Cam lives in Duluth, Georgia and does paleontology and geology outreach events around his home state. He primarily focus on the geology and paleontology of southeastern part of the United States. He spends a lot of time doing independent research, providing lectures, and collecting fossils from various localities around Georgia and Alabama. Additionally, he is a volunteer for the Fernbank Science Center where two Saturdays a month he sets up a table of fossils and discuss concepts regarding geology and fossil record. He is also a member of the Georgia Mineral Society, Atlanta Geological Society, and the Paleontology Association of Georgia. Cam is working toward becoming a Historical Geologist and Paleontologist. In his spare time, Cam enjoys reading, dancing, and writing.

Sarah Sheffield

Sarah is a visiting instructor at the University of South Florida in the School of Geosciences, where she teaches a range of classes, including introductory geology, the history of life, and sedimentary geology. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree from Auburn University in Alabama, both focused on invertebrate paleontology. Her research focuses on a group of extinct echinoderms (the group that includes sea lilies and sea stars): the diploporitans. These fossils, which are defined by a type of respiratory structure, called diplopores (double pores), are not well understood and their relationships to other echinoderms are confusing. The distribution of diploporitans on the Earth and why they eventually went extinct are questions Sarah is looking to answer through her work. To learn more about this puzzling group, Sarah has done field work in rural Spain, the western coast of Sardinia, and in quarries in southern Indiana to uncover new diploporitan fossils. She has also traveled to museums in the Czech Republic, Estonia, and all over the U.S. to restudy diploporitan collections. Sarah is very active with outreach and promoting scientific literacy in her community. She works with the national programs including Skype a Scientist, Letters to a Pre-Scientist, local natural history museums, public schools, and Darwin Day at the University of South Florida to get people excited about science and to learn more about evolutionary biology. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys collecting dinosaur toys, hiking, reading for fun, and hanging out with her pet bunnies, guinea pigs, and dogs.

Past Collaborators

Raquel Bryant

Raquel is currently an MS/PhD student in the Geosciences department at University of Massachusetts Amherst and works with Dr. R. Mark Leckie in the Micropaleontology lab. She is a recipient of the Randolph and Cecile Bromery Graduate Fellowship at UMass and was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. Raquel developed her interest in paleoclimatology and paleoceanography as an undergraduate at Brown University and her love for micropaleontology through research experiences at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. For her graduate work Raquel uses planktic foraminifera and other microfossils to study how the Earth’s oceans have changed over time. Specifically, she is interested in how ocean-climate interactions change during times of extreme global warmth, like her all-time favorite geologic age, the Cretaceous. Although she loves research, her favorite part of being a scientist is being a leader and a role model.  She dedicates a lot of time outside the lab to increasing campus inclusivity and equity through graduate student groups like the Graduate Students of Color Association (GSCA) and the Graduate Women in STEM (GWIS). Raquel is a talented vocalist, keeps up with the Kardashians religiously and loves everything pop culture.