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Allison Karp

Degree: Ph.D. in Geosciences
Thesis title: “The role of fire ecology in vegetation change during the Neogene: New
applications of molecular and isotopic proxies for vegetation burning in the paleorecord”
Advisor: Kate Freeman 

Karp joined our graduate program in the fall of 2015, after completing her A.B. in biology and environmental earth science from Washington University, St. Louis. She was the recipient of NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and numerous departmental awards, including the Knopf, Tait, Alley and Standish Good Fellowships. She completed the Urbino Summer School in paleoclimatology (2017) and the isotope ecology summer course (“Isocamp”) at the University of Utah (2016). During the course of her studies, Karp conducted research at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia University), Curtin University (Perth), and the University of Adelaide. She also cored paleolake sediments in Dalmatia (Croatia) and she completed AAUS scientific diver training. She has given invited presentations at the GSA Annual Meeting, University of Michigan, University of Adelaide, as well as Earth System Science Center at PSU. Allison has been active in both AWG and WE ARE for Science.

In her graduate research, she developed new understanding of polycyclic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as indicators of past wildfires. This involved new analyses of burned residues and a compilation and multivariate analysis of published data. She used understanding gained from these studies to show that fire facilitated the expansion of C4 grasslands in the late Miocene and early Pliocene in south Asia, but its effects were muted in Australia, likely due to the pronounced fire ecology of pre-existing vegetation.

Karp is headed to Yale University in September 2020, where she will be apostdoc in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology under the supervision of Dr. Carla Staver.