Principal Investigator:

Seth Finnegan: I am particularly interested in (1) Patterns of extinction selectivity, and what they can tell us about the changing drivers of the extinction process and how differential extinction has shaped evolution through time, (2) Using environmental proxy data (stable isotopes, biomarkers, sedimentology) to understand the physical context of major evolutionary and ecological events recorded by the fossil record, and (3) Developing taxon-free methods to reconstruct the structure and function of marine ecosystems (e.g. as energy- and nutrient-exchange networks) through time. Much of my recent and continuing work focuses on the Ordovician Period (488 to 444 million years ago) because it is widely agreed (by me) to be the most interesting interval in Earth history, including as it does a broad-based and very rapid global biodiversification and a major mass extinction.

Postdocs / assistant project scientists:

Adiël Klompmaker (MS: Utrecht University, 2006; PhD: Kent State University, 2012): My research focuses on understanding the processes that drive marine ecosystems on evolutionary time scales. To answer this question I study: (1) trends in crustaceans within and across sedimentary settings, and (2) the evolution of biotic interactions through time.



Peter D Smits (BS: University of Washington, 2010; MSc: Monash University, 2012; PhD: University of Chicago, 2017): I study macroevolutionary and macroecological patterns in the fossil record across multiple taxonomic groups, focusing on Cenozoic mammals and Paleozoic brachiopods. My research interests include trait-dependent extinction and species selection, factors driving changes to functional diversity of species pools, and Bayesian approaches to modeling evolutionary and ecological data.



Graduate Students:

Sara Kahanamoku: I am interested in investigating the effects of environmental stress on marine ecosystems from a number of different perspectives. I currently hope to understand how rapid climate shifts and changes in primary productivity drive ecosystem function and community composition through time.

Emily Orzechowski: I am working on the Late Pleistocene record of eastern Pacific coastal mollusks, trying to determine whether species niches have been conserved over the past 125,000 years.



Larry Taylor: I am using isotopic analysis of coronulid barnacles to reconstruct the migration routes of their cetacean hosts. While working with multiple barnacle species, my research focuses on Coronula diadema and its common host, the humpback whale. Making use of a rich fossil record, I am attempting to use this method to study whale migration in the Pliocene and Pleistocene.


Josh Zimmt: I am interested in the application of sequence stratigraphy and geochemistry to understanding and contextualizing patterns of evolution and extinction in the fossil record, with an emphasis on how sequence stratigraphic architecture influences our interpretations of mass extinctions and other “abrupt” events in the fossil record.


Undergraduate students (Spring 2019):


Alyssa Barbosa





Alyssa Camargo

Alyssa Camargo




Tyler Dang v2

Tyler Dang






Lexi Dobson v2

Lexi Dobson




Jesse Gill






Leyla Namazie




Ben Shein v2Ben Shein





Chloe Golde

Nina Jaeger

Judah Marsden

Heather McCandless

Max Titcomb

Stephanie Wang



Abigail Kelly (BS: Williams College, 2016, STRI intern): I am working on a project that explores how molluscs respond to the differing energy regimes of the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the Isthmus of Panama. The Pacific experiences coastal upwelling and high nutrient availability, corresponding to high productivity, while the Caribbean experiences no upwelling and low productivity. How do marine communities, which share many of the same species, differ between the Caribbean and Pacific sides?


Lab Alumni:

Carina Lee (postdoc)


Brett Archuleta (graduate)

Caitlin Boas (graduate)


Zev Brook (undergraduate)

Maggie George (undergraduate)

Jonathan Graham (undergraduate)

Sarah Granke (lab technician; BA: Pomona College 2017)

Kayla Kettmann (undergraduate)

Giselle Lopez (undergraduate)

Nadia Maarfi (undergraduate)

Sydney Minges (undergraduate)

Tran Nguyen (undergraduate)

Adrian Overly (undergraduate)

James Saulsbury (undergraduate/lab technician; PhD student, University of Michigan)

Nannaphat Sirison (undergraduate)

Lena Tran (undergraduate)

Vishruth Venkataraman (undergraduate; MSc student, Bristol)

Matthew Yee (undergraduate)

Camp.SectionImpromptu clinic on troubleshooting field vehicle issues, Ibex area of UT.  Middle Ordovician Kanosh and Lehman Formations and Watson Ranch Quartzite in the background.

p1380818 Lab workshop on professional goal-setting, i.e. ‘that time we went bowling and realized that we should stick to paleontology.’ Albany, CA. Late Holocene athletic glory in the background.