I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University where I work with Leonardo Seeber, Joerg Schaefer, Mike Steckler and Nick Christie-Blick. In general, I am a field geologist with a focus on structural geology and sedimentology of forearc basins. Over the last few years at Columbia, I've learned how to extract the radiogenic isotopes ¹⁰Be and ²⁶Al from quartz grains. This information can be used to determine erosion rates of river catchments, and thus uplift histories. Thus, most recently, I have been training myself to become a geomorphologist to apply this technique to active landscapes.
I am very interested in connecting long term tectonic processes with recent and short term tectonics. One of the biggest challenges facing geoscientists is determining how processes that operate on differing timescales affect and interact with each other.
I am also interested in finding new applications for ¹⁰Be and ²⁶Al. The measurability of these isotopes has greatly increased in the last 10 years, providing a great potential for dating processes. They date a time period difficult to date with other radiogenic isotopes (a few 100 to 5 million years ago). Quantifying timing of uplift and using ¹⁰Be as a sediment tracer in arc volcanoes are two of the applications I have been working on recently.
My PhD thesis is focused on the deformation of the Calabrian forearc, located in Southern Italy. In this active subduction zone, there has been 1 km of uplift in the last million years with no discernable cause. I have been mapping the structure of the exposed forearc basin and applying cosmogenic radionuclide erosion rates to rivers in order to quantify the rate, timing, and shape of the uplift. This data will help determine a mechanism for the recent uplift.
My main passion lies in teaching the Earth Sciences. I think the Earth is the best tool with which to teach the rest of the sciences because it is so accessible. But it is a tool greatly under-utilized in schools at every level. I have had great experiences as a TA for graduate and undergraduate students at Columbia (largely in teaching a lab for Advanced General Geology) and have taken a course on Teaching and Learning Concepts in the Earth Sciences. These opportunities have taught me the various pedagogies used in teaching Earth Science, but, most importantly, helped me to recognize where some methods and curriculums fall short, thereby improving my own pedagogy. I was accepted as a New York Academy of Sciences Education Fellow for Spring 2011. I was taught some of the Earth Science curriculum for Middle Schoolers in the New York City Public School system and volunteered as an after school tutor for these students. During my time, I will have the opportunity to earn a NYAS teaching credential.
In May, 2011, I was accepted into the LEEFS (Learning Through Ecology and Environmental Field Studies) Program. A nation-wide grant program set up by the National Science Foundation that pairs graduate students in the Earth Sciences with local high school teachers. We work together to bring scientific research into the high school classroom. I have the opportunity to be a work directly with the students in the classroom and the high school teacher has the opportunity to come to Lamont to learn the research process. This is a two year fellowship and I will be working in the New York Harbor School, located on Governor's Island, and we will be running experiments around seawater chemistry in the New York Harbor and oyster health.