My current research projects focus primarily on modern carbonate mineral precipitation in microbially-active environments. Much of this work aims to deconvolute the interactions between microorganisms, fluid geochemistry, and minerals to better understand mineral formation or transformation. My research group relies heavily on laboratory experimentation, where we are able to isolate variables and deconstruct the complexity of natural systems to identify operative mechanisms. We also take inspiration from the characterization of modern microbial environments; normal marine, hypersaline salterns, and highly alkaline lakes all host microbialite sediments, active microbial communities, and varying geochemical conditions that allow us to constrain and elucidate microbial influences on carbonate sediments in modern environments and extend those parameters to ancient systems.
In addition to geoscience-based research, over the past five years I have participated in Geoscience Education Research as part of an effort to integrate active learning strategies into my introductory geology courses. This effort is collaborative amongst myself and several KU Geology faculty members as part of a larger effort to transform a majority of Geology major courses into learner-centered classrooms. These endeavors have resulted in better learning outcomes for students in these transformed courses, as well as data that now inform other STEM teachers’ best practices in the classroom.
Stromatolite, Puerto Rico
Active Learning Approaches in Geology Courses
I have previously conducted research in a wide range of locations, from the high Arctic to equatorial islands. With funding from institutions such as The National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, American Chemical Society, and other industry sources, I have investigated topics in a variety of areas, including but not limited to:
- Hydrochemistry and microbial geochemistry
- Microbial mineral attachment and nutrient-driven microbial silicate weathering
- Low-temperature dolomite precipitation
For more information about my previous research, please use the links above or see the complete list of my publications.