2010 Patterson Memorial Grant Recipient
I grew up in Connecticut and Vermont where I developed a curiosity for the natural sciences early on with family hikes and camping trips. When I was about ten, I collected my first fossil, a sea shell mold at the beach in Connecticut. At the time I was unaware of what it was but I knew I was interested. I pursued these interests by earning my BS in biology at George Washington University. While studying abroad in Australia during my junior year, I unintentionally took a paleobiogeography course and was introduced to paleontology, and I was hooked. I returned home and received a great opportunity to work at the National Museum of Natural History with Matthew Carrano looking at the paleoecology of a microvertebrate site from the Maastrichtian of Montana. Following this, I earned an MS in geology at Ohio University working with Alycia Stigall on the distribution of Miocene horses using phylogenetic biogeographic techniques and niche modeling. This was complemented by field trips to the fossiliferous beds of Ohio and field work in Tanzania looking for early Paleogene mammals with the Rukwa Rift Basin Project, after I graduated.
I am currently pursuing a PhD in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley with Anthony Barnosky. My research takes advantage of the robust fossil record of the John Day Fossil Beds in Oregon. Specifically, I am looking at mammal fossils from the Miocene deposits before and after the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum to determine whether their distributions changed with the changing climate and environment in the area. I am interested in determining if species tracked their preferred habitat as the environment changed or if they remained in place and their ecological niche changed. To study this question, I am combing the paleoenvironmental and locality data of the John Day Fossil Beds with niche modeling techniques to reconstruct the distributions of the mammals.
I am extremely grateful to receive the Bryan Patterson Award. The funding from the award was used to collect the necessary field data for my project this past summer while I was at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Field work included, relocating fossil sites to place them in the correct stratigraphic position, prospecting and collecting at new sites, and analyzing paleosols to determine paleoenvironments. I would like to thank all of my advisors and mentors as well as my fellow graduate students at the UCMP for all of the guidance, support and opportunities they have given me.
Photo courtesy of Kaitlin Maguire.