Ben is interested in the history of, and interrelationships among, Earth’s climate, biota, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. Much of his research effort is focused on developing and refining techniques in isotope geochemistry for reconstructing different aspects of past environments. This includes reconstructing past surface temperatures using clumped isotopes, and reconstructing evaporation & aridity using triple oxygen isotopes.
Kirsten is a full time tech in the lab who keeps things running! She started in the lab as an undergraduate research assistant who started working in our lab through the university’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). She started her work on a project to measure carbon and oxygen isotopes in chicken egg shells from the Ann Arbor area to study how the isotopic composition of precipitation and groundwater are incorporated into the carbonate of the egg shells. She worked on evaluating the stable isotopic composition of waters in the western US as part of her senior thesis.
Julia is taking the lead on an NSF-funded project, CZ17O, that is using triple oxygen isotopes to probe how soil carbonates form. This project is centered around studying soils in different ecosystems in the Western US, including at two Dryland Critical Zone Network sites. More broadly, Julia is interested in understanding how surface temperature and water availability shape terrestrial environments in modern and ancient times.
You can find more about Julia and her work here: https://jrkelson.github.io
Anne is a NSF postdoc who is using triple oxygen and clumped isotopes to better quantify evaporation from Mono Lake, CA. A major goal of this research is to use geochemical data and hydrologic modeling to assist with water management and conservation strategies in the face of a rapidly changing climate. As well, this project aims to more directly connect our understanding of the modern hydrologic system to changes in the regional hydroclimate in the recent geologic past. Anne’s broader research interests focus on how different terrestrial sedimentary archives and geochemical proxies encode the signals of climatic and environmental change in the geologic past.
Sarah joined the lab in Fall 2018 and is studying water budgets in the Peruvian Andes. Currently, she is using triple oxygen, clumped, and traditional water isotopes (δ18O and δ2H) to build a paleoclimate record of Lake Junin. She hopes to reconstruct hydrological changes at the lake by studying carbonates found in a drill core taken from the lakebed and using modern local waters as an analog for present day.
Nick joined the lab in Fall 2019 to work with Ben Passey. He is working on developing improved methods to extract phosphates from the bioapatite of modern and fossil teeth to be used for triple oxygen isotope analysis.
Jada Langston joined IPL in August 2020. Jada comes to UM from Hamilton College where their research ranged from Paleozoic red beds in southern France and to evaluating the isotope records for mollusk shells in East African Rift lakes. For their MS, Jada worked on the stable isotope composition of carbonates from the Afar region of Ethiopia, to gain insights into both past environments and carbonate diagenesis in an active rift. For their PhD, Jada is working on building records of water balance in the Great Lakes using triple oxygen isotopes.
Million Alemayehu Mengesha
Million is a PhD student in IPL. He initially started at IPL while a lecturer at Addis Ababa University. He visited the lab from September 2021 - January 2022 as part of the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars Program (UMAPS). For his UMAPS work, Million started developing a triple oxygen isotope record of soil carbonates from the Afar region of Ethiopia and the Turkana region in Kenya. He continues this work as a PhD student and is extending it to a focused study of depositional and environmental change during the Pliocene in the Afar region.
Jungpyo joined the IPL in the Fall of 2022. He graduated from Seoul National University and came to Michigan to work with Ben Passey. Currently, he is working on the dual-clumped isotope system and its applications in various cave carbonates with the aim of paleotemperature reconstruction.
Miriam is a sophomore working with Julia and Naomi on the CZ17O project, helping out with processing soils and preparing them for isotopic analysis.
Brianna is a senior majoring in Earth & Environmental Sciences. They are interested in learning about the mechanisms driving environmental forces and injustices, and how we can sustainably respond to- and understand them. Brianna is also interested in science, math, and creative writing education. Their hobbies include writing poetry with friends, going on long walks, and cooking vegan meals.
Scott is a senior studying Biomolecular Science and minoring in Environmental Science. I am planning on pursuing Environmental Health in my further studies and am interested in the connection between public health and our environment.
Drake started to work in the lab as an undergraduate in 2017 and continued working as a technician through June 2020.
NSF Postdoc (2015-2017)
Margaret is a junior working with Julia and Naomi on the CZ17O project, helping out with processing soils and preparing them for isotopic analysis. She started as a UROP student with Julia on a different project.
Tyler received his undergraduate degree from Cornell, completed his M.S. at the University of Arizona, and his Ph.D at the University of Utah. He joined the group in December 2018, and is exploring how triple oxygen isotopes can aid interpretation of speleothem (cave) records. He has even gone as far as to build a “cave” in our lab workshop to grow his own speleothems in a setting where he can control CO2 concentration, water drip rate, and relative humidity.
Check out Tyler's website here: tylerehuth.com
Natalie joined the group in Fall 2018 and is studying aridity in the Western U.S. using triple oxygen and clumped isotopes of water and carbonates. Currently, her main focus is Bear Lake, which sits on the Utah / Idaho border and how the lake’s evaporation fluxes have changed since the Last Glacial Maximum.
MS Student, 2018-2020
Mara joined the lab in Fall 2018, working with Naomi. For her MS thesis she used the stable carbon and oxygen isotope composition of fossil mammals to investigate changes in the environment and herbivore communities of eastern Africa. She focused on understanding the paleoecology of Olorgesailie basin in southern Kenya, during the last 1 million years of human evolution.
After graduating with an MS, Mara moved back to Seattle, WA and started work as a technician at Membrion, putting many of the skills learned in IPL to work in a start-up setting.
Elise joined the lab in Fall 2017 as a research assistant to help with sample processing, organization, and analysis. She is now working on her honors thesis that will look at oxygen and hydrogen isotopes of precipitation from several locations around the Midwest and the Northeast to try and explain how temperature, seasonality, and relative humidity all play roles in shaping the local hydrology of each location.
Postdoc, associated researcher
While at UM, Phoebe was a member of the Poulsen Lab and worked very closely with IPL. She is the lead on our triple oxygen Crowdsource Project and analyzes water samples for δ18O and δ2H for all of our lab members using the Picarro L2130-i in the Poulsen Lab. Phoebe’s work focuses on isotope hydrology on both small scale (individual leaves, trees, and forests) and large scale (Central Andes) environments. For her work in IPL, she focused on understanding the source and evolution of precipitation in the Central Andes and the variability of triple oxygen isotope in meteoric water.
Postdoc Research Fellow, 2016-2018
Assistant Professor, Grand Valley State University
NSF Postdoc, 2016-2018
Assistant Professor, University of Houston
Ryan worked in the lab when it was first established in 2017 through his senior year in 2019.