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 currently working on her Ph.D. at The University of Tennessee with Dr. Colin Sumrall. Jen’s Master’s degree was centered on understanding the evolutionary relationships of an extinct (no longer living) group of brachiopods. She is currently focusing 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. This work has allowed for Jen to travel to the Paul Scherrer Institut to use their facility to take thousands of images through fossils and see if their internal structures preserved. This process is very similar to getting an MRI or CT scan at the hospital. Additionally, Jen is involved with evolution outreach through Darwin Day events at the university. 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.

Cheif 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.

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.

Andy Fraass

Andy has a Master’s in Geoscience from the University of Wisconsin and Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. He’s currently a postdoctoral researcher, which means that he moves every two years, jumping from institution to institution. Recently, Andy was hired for a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Sam Houston State University and will be starting this fall! 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, and what the carbon cycle was doing. Because they’ve 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 3 year old child, so most of his free time is spent running after his daughter in DC museums.

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 Master’s degree at The University of Tennessee with Dr. Colin Sumrall. While getting her undergraduate degree at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania she studied sea urchins and the effects of ocean acidification on their taphonomy (how things break apart after they die). She is currently focusing on an extinct group of echinoderms (modern sea stars and sea urchins): the paracrinoids. These fossils are unlike most echinoderms and as a result are not well understood. Very little is known about this group, other than what species exist, so there are many questions that need answers. To study this group, Maggie has traveled to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. and is planning other museum visits in Oklahoma and Iowa. In addition to museum visits, she is hoping to do some field work locally in Tennessee to try and hunt down some elusive paracrinoids. Maggie 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 works 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, kayak, read spy novels, and walk her cat!

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.

Sarah Sheffield

sarahfaceSarah is finishing her Ph.D at The University of Tennessee with Dr. Colin Sumrall. Her Master’s degree at Auburn University in Alabama focused on understanding how early crinoids (sea lilies) would have grown. She is currently focusing on another group of extinct echinoderms (the group that includes sea lilies and sea stars): the diploporitans. These fossils are not well understood and their relationships to other echinoderms are confusing and unclear. 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 local natural history museum, public schools, and the Darwin Day Program at the University of Tennessee to get people excited about science and to learn more about evolutionary biology. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys collecting dinosaur toys, hiking, volunteering at the local animal shelter, and hanging out with her pet bunnies, guinea pigs, and dogs.