Research

Transmission electron microscope image of bacterial magnetosomes from the sediments of Brownie Lake, Minnesota. Individual magnetite crystals are ~50 nanometers.

Overview

I am broadly interested in why the Earth is such a unique place in the Solar System, and in the role the Earth’s magnetic field plays in shaping our planet. Specifically, I am interested in how geological materials become magnetized, and what they tell us about the evolution of the Earth. My research uses rock and mineral magnetism to study a wide range of geologic processes, from basic geophysics governing the internal structure and dynamics of our planet, to surface processes and geo-environmental history. My approach is inherently multidisciplinary and multi-scalar, combining magnetic analyses (both well-established and non-traditional) with non-magnetic methods. The main research directions I am pursuing are:

1. How do magnetic minerals track past environmental conditions and biogeochemical cycles in nature, and help us predict future trends? I am working on innovative ways in which we can use magnetic minerals occurring in abundance in our surroundings to inform us about  past and present changes in the natural environment.

2. What can records of the Earth’s magnetic field preserved in rocks and minerals tell us about the evolution of the geodynamo? I am exploring the promising, yet relatively untapped, paleomagnetic archives that are speleothems, because they contain high-resolution geomagnetic records and can be dated with unparalleled precision.

3. How can we extract meaningful magnetic information from natural samples with complex histories or highly localized distributions of natural magnetic carriers? I am developing analysis tools that enable the visualization, measurement, and modeling of natural systems that hold answers to some of the key questions in geomagnetic research.

Areas of study