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Professor of Biogeochemistry, Director of the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol

Research interests:

Proxies for Paleoclimate Reconstruction
Preservation of Organic Matter

In 1992, I obtained my B.S. degree in Geology (with high honors) from Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, USA) and began my Ph.D. research with Dr. Katherine Freeman at the Pennsylvania State University. There, I conducted research on environmental and physiological controls on the carbon isotopic composition of free and bound biomarker compounds in modern surface-water samples of the Peru upwelling region and ancient sediments of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway (Cenomanian-Turonian boundary) and Taconic foreland basin (Late Ordovician). The common theme of these diverse studies was the development and application of compound-specific carbon isotope analysis as a tool to reconstruct ancient changes in p2 and organic matter inputs to sedimentary basins. As a research assistant I either conducted or assisted with similar studies on waters from the equatorial Pacific and Sargasso Sea and sediments from the Congo Basin (Jurassic) and German Kellwasser horizons (end-Devonian OAE).

Upon completion of my Ph.D. in 1998, I accepted a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. J. S. Sinninghe Damsté at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, where I was responsible for the maintenance and utilization of mass spectrometry instrumentation. Research conducted by myself in this capacity included examinations of chemically unique kerogens associated with the Kimmeridge Clay Formation and the use of carbon isotopes as tracers of microbial processes, specifically the anaerobic oxidation of methane by a consortia of archaea and sulphate-reducing bacteria in marine sediments. In addition, I served as an advisor on Ph.D. projects that involved extensive isotopic analyses, including investigations of Tethyan palaeoceanography during the Cenomanian-Turonian OAE and controls on the isotopic composition of biomarkers in Kyllaren fjord sediments.

On August 1, 2000 I began a permanent lecturer position in the School of Chemistry (Organic Geochemisty Unit and Biogeochemistry Research Centre) at the University of Bristol, and was appointed Director of the Cabot Institute in July 2013.


  • –present
    Professor of Biogeochemistry, Director of the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol