SCIPP Lab Fall Potluck

SCIPP Lab, circa October 2021. Left to right: Julia Kelson, Allison Curley, Jade Zhang, Jon Hoffman, Alex Quizon, Manmeet Singh, Samantha Davies, Sabrina Lanker, Cecilie Phillips, Lucas Gomes, and PI Sierra Petersen.

The SCIPP Lab gathered to welcome new members (4 undergrad UROP students and 2 new PhD students), say a bit of a goodbye to old members (Julia will be around less often in the coming months), and enjoy each other’s company and food and Sierra’s new back deck. This came together last minute as we realized the long late summer weather was going to abruptly become fall at any moment, but was by all accounts a huge success. We learned that ring toss is harder than it looks, and that SCIPP lab members are big fans of chips and dips of all sorts. We sampled multiple desserts baked by group members, all of which were delicious – even the mysterious pastry/nutella experimental creations of Alex. We also determined that we are surprisingly good at soccer as a group and are ready to challenge another research lab in the Earth department to a game when the time is right. We all agree – Sabrina will be the goalie.

Looking forward to a fun year with these folks!

Field work!

L to R: Alex, Lucas, Gretchen, Lillian, Ian, Jade

SCIPP Lab members Jade Zhang, Lucas Gomes, and Alex Quizon set out on a week of field work with UM Alum and SCIPP group collaborator Dr. Ian Winkelstern and two of his students from Grand Valley State University. The group is hoping to collect Pleistocene and Pliocene marine mollusks from the US East Coast. Good luck!

SCIPP Lab welcomes two new members!

We are very excited to welcome our two newest members, Lucas Gomes and Alex Quizon, both PhD students. Lucas will be working on reconstructing paleoceangraphic conditions in the Pliocene of Florida looking at extremely fossil-dense beds of the Tamiami Fm./Pinecrest beds and Caloosahatchee Formation. Alex will be working on fossil seashells from South Carolina dating to the Last Interglacial and calibrating the clumped isotope paleothermometer in modern marine gastropods. Welcome welcome!

We are also sad to (sort of) say goodbye to our postdoc Matt Jones, who has left us for a fancy postdoc fellowship at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC (congrats Matt!). We will still be collaborating closely with Matt in our efforts to reconstruct Cretaceous paleotemperatures, especially in the Western Interior Seaway. He plans to leverage the extensive Cretaceous fossil collections of the Smithsonian and send us samples to analyze for clumped isotopes.

Heidi submits her thesis and manuscript!

Despite setbacks due to COVID, our very own Heidi O’Hora submitted her masters thesis this week to graduate end-of-summer, and then turned around and submitted her manuscript to a top-tier journal for peer review and (hopefully) eventual publication in the scientific literature. Congratulations Heidi, you did it! We are so proud of the progress you’ve made over the past 2 years, especially considering it was such an unusual time.

Heidi’s thesis project involved reconstructing Late Cretaceous ocean temperatures in the modern-day region of Maastricht, the Netherlands. Her samples come from the type section of the Maastrichtian (ENCI quarry) among other locations. She found that temperatures in that area were much warmer than they are today (as expected for the greenhouse world of the Cretaceous) and that interactions between different water masses had a strong control on local ocean temperature and salinity.

Stay tuned for publication announcement later on!

Sierra awarded the Sloan Research Fellowship

SCIPP Lab is excited to announce that Sierra has been selected as a 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship.

Paraphrasing from the Sloan website…

The Sloan Research Fellowship seeks to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. These two-year, $75,000 fellowships are awarded yearly to 128 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field. Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada. 

Sierra plans to use the funds to push forward our paleo-seasonality projects in the Pliocene and elsewhere.

Department Announcement

UM Record Article

SCIPP Lab reopens following 2+ month hiatus

Today we gained access to our research lab for the first time since we shutdown in March.

We are very glad to be selected as one of the buildings for the “pilot phase” of reopening at U of M. The group, department, and university have done a great job making the working environment safe through PPE, cleaning and air circulation procedures, limiting personnel, and maintaining social distancing. Lots of safety plans submitted!

Only Ashling, our lab manager, is allowed in at the moment and she will begin working to turn on our machines and get them back to operational. We are crossing our fingers for a smooth reopening, with everything working well.

Serena and Steve graduate!

Congratulations to our SCIPP group graduates! Senior thesis student Steve Wedel finished his undergraduate degree in Geology and Serena Scholz completed her master’s degree with a very impressive master’s thesis (one paper published, another nearly submitted).

Although the in-person graduation ceremonies were canceled due to COVID-19, we are still so proud of you guys! Sad to see you go, but excited to see the next steps in your bright futures!

New Paper Update: Tropical Seasonality in the Miocene

Serena’s first paper was just published in Geology! She measured the oxygen isotopic composition of modern and fossil gastropod shells of the genus Turritella at high (subannual) resolution. In tropical settings, temperature doesn’t vary too much throughout the year, so the large seasonal variations in d18Ocarbonate were therefore attributable to changes in d18Oseawater, which she linked to on-shore precipitation. This indicated that there was a high seasonality of precipitation at the sample site (Guajira Peninsula, Colombia), which is today an extremely arid environment. She suggested that the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ICTZ), a band of high precipiation, could have extended to a more northerly position during the warm Miocene and been the source of this increased precipitation seasonality.

Congrats Serena on your first paper!


Link to Paper