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Paleobiology and Microbial Geobiology and Biogeochemistry



The Department of Geosciences offers a diverse program in paleobiology.

Faculty and students address a wide range of questions that center on the evolution and extinction of life on Earth and the interactions of organisms with their environments over geologic time.

Faculty expertise includes invertebrate paleontology (Patzkowsky), vertebrate paleontology (Graham), micropaleontology (Bralower), and paleobotany (Wilf).

Areas of particular strength include biotic response to extinction and climate change, stratigraphic paleobiology, evolutionary paleoecology, quantitative paleobiology, macroevolution, biological indicators of paleoclimates, and systematics. We utilize state-of-the-art equipment in the Department as well as in the Materials Characterization Laboratory at Penn State.

Faculty and students conduct field programs worldwide, especially in the eastern and western US and Latin America. They also participate in Integrated Ocean Drilling Program expeditions.

Microbial Geobiology and Biogeochemistry

Microbial Geobiology and Biogeochemistry

The Department of Geosciences has excellence in isotopic biogochemistry, organic geochemistry, and geomicrobiology. Current biogeochemsitry research (Freeman) includes isotopic signatures of photosynthesis, past climate, and microbial processes. Our geomicrobiology laboratories (House and Macalady) have on-going research that includes marine microbiology, microbial life in subsurface environments, and microbial life in extreme environments.

The Penn State Astrobiology Research Center was created in 1998 as part of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). Those involved with the center work on understanding the connections between life and the evolution of our planet and the factors which influence the habitability of a planet over time, as well as biosignatures at all scales, from individual cells to the composition of planetary atmospheres.