Research in the Patzkowsky lab focuses on the ecological, evolutionary, and geological processes that control the diversity, distribution, and abundance of fossil taxa in time and space. Lab members have worked in the Cambrian of Montana, the Ordovician from Pennsylvania to Nevada, the Devonian of central Pennsylvania, the Mississippian of the Illinois and Appalachian basins, the Pennsylvanian and Permian of the Midcontinent, the Paleogene of the Gulf Coast, and the Neogene of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. One of the main threads through all the field research is the collection and interpretation of fossils in a sequence stratigraphic framework emphasizing how the architecture of the stratigraphic record affects the preservation and distribution of fossils.
The Patzkowsky lab also studies the geographic and environmental patterns of extinction and recovery across the Late Ordovician and end-Cretaceous mass extinctions. These two mass extinctions had very different effects on the history of life and we are trying to quantify those different effects. Recently, we have performed this work using a phylogenetic framework. This approach, called phylogenetic paleoecology, is required to understand the evolutionary underpinning of large-scale ecologic patterns of extinction and diversification. We are also using models of speciation and extinction and models of anatomical change to better constrain the relationship between environmental change and the diversification of a major brachiopod clade during the Ordovician radiations.
Mark Patzkowsky joined the faculty of the Department of Geosciences at Penn State in 1992. His research addresses a wide range of questions concerning the biotic responses to regional and global environmental change across geologic time. Currently he seeks to link paleoecology with phylogenetics to understand the ecological and evolutionary consequences of diversification and mass extinction. Mark teaches a variety of courses in the undergraduate and graduate curriculums on the history of life, principles of paleontology, multivariate analysis in geosciences, and field stratigraphy. Mark has served on several editorial boards and he is currently Editor-in-Chief of Paleobiology. He served as Treasurer of the Paleontological Society from 2002-2008. In 2011, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Paleontological Society. Mark was elected a Fellow of the Paleontological Society in 2014 and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2019.
Mark holds a B.A. degree in geology from Kansas State University, an M.S. degree in geological sciences from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. degree in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago.