Scientific interests and approach
Deciphering past extreme environmental conditions
When I was in junior high school, my Earth Sciences teacher Mr. Mayhew brought my class to Nantucket Beach, just south of Boston. I had visited this beach countless times as a child. I especially loved exploring the tidal pools amid the rocks at the south end of the beach. On this field trip, Mr. Mayhew pointed out pillow basalts in this outcrops and told us that they were evidence of past lava that erupted under water. I was amazed! This idea that one can picture past environments and landscapes by "reading the rocks" intrigued me greatly and led to my career as a geologist.
My research program focuses on deciphering past environmental conditions and diagenetic histories, past weather and climate, and past life from ancient terrestrial martian sedimentary rocks. This work relies on the study of interactions amongst waters, rocks, sediments, atmosphere, and life in modern environments, followed by application of this information to ancient sedimentary rocks. I use field work and core studies, petrographic observations, geochemical analyses, and fluid inclusion studies. I am especially interested in understanding modern and ancient acid saline lake and groundwater systems, which are amongst the most extreme environments on Earth and are analogs for some martian strata.
Executive Director, Mentor