I study sedimentary rocks and volcanic deposits to learn about continental rifting process, and the timing and geologic setting of early human evolution. Broadly, my current and ongoing research can be split into three themes: the geologic context for early human evolution; extensional faulting and basin development; and magmatic evolution of explosive volcanism in rift zones. This work is focused in eastern Africa and it is highly collaborative. I working closely with paleontologists and archaeologists among others.
- Geochemical correlations of tephra deposits in Afar, Ethiopia for human origins studies. This project also involves stratigraphic analysis to interpret depositional environments and structural geology looking at rift development.
- Dating, geochemistry, and stratigraphy of ~5-6-million-year-old paleontological sites near Narok, Kenya.
- Geomorphology of the lower Awash, Afar Ethiopia using cosmogenic radionuclides.
- Building an explosive volcanic geochemical database for eastern Africa (EARThD) in collaboration with NSF/IEDA.
Over the course of my academic career, I have been involved in several outreach programs for K-12 and higher education students that promote STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). See my personal webpage for more information.
I am currently the PSU Undergraduate Research Programs Director for the NASA/Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium (PSGC) at Penn State University. I direct the PSGC Research Internship Program called WISER|MURE|FURP which places first-year undergraduate students with faculty mentors in STEM fields at Penn State for a year-long (2 semester) research internship.
I develop and teach educator workshops for Pennsylvania K-12 teachers. One workshop focused on the geology and paleontology of the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming and Montana (workshop held in Montana) and another on explosive volcanic deposits hosted at Penn State.