Human manipulation of the environment is nothing new. For thousands of years humans have modified natural wildfire cycles, induced artificial selection by selective harvesting, and built middens that collected the remains of past societies. Geoarcheology is the application of earth science methods to answer archeological questions. I currently have projects in the Yucatan Peninsula and South Florida in geoarcheology.

Collecting sediment samples from an archaeological excavation in Palm Beach County.

Marine Pollution

Most of the human population lives near the ocean, a result of all the ocean could provide for the budding human race, food, transportation, etc.  However, as a result of our close interact with the ocean we can exert a negative influence on the ocean.  I study some of these negative effects, one of them being micro plastic pollution.  Plastic enters the ocean many ways including litter and from cargo lost at sea.  The most abundant type of plastic are pieces smaller than a finger nail.  I aim to research what influences where these micro plastics end up, and what influences how they get there including local policies and ocean currents.  

A sample site in Florida from which I collected sand at the high tide line to determine how abundant micro plastics are.  The sample are is cordoned off with string.

Coastal Hydrology

Hydrology is the study of the water cycle, and coastal hydrology is the study of how the ocean and land-based water bodies (like rivers and groundwater) interact.  In my studies of coastal hydrology I research how groundwater discharge to the ocean (commonly called submarine groundwater discharge or SGD for short) transports nutrients (like nitrate and phosphate) and gases (like methane) and trace metals (like iron and zinc) to the coastal ocean.  As part of these studies, I evaluate how nutrients, methane, and trace metals impact the part of the ocean they are carried to by SGD.  In other coastal hydrology studies I evaluate how mixing between ocean water and groundwater changes water chemistry in the coastal aquifer and on what time scales these processes occur.  

A column experiment I conducted in Israel to determine residence times of seawater in coastal aquifer.

Social Issues in Science

Science has a reach beyond the laboratory.  Public scientific literacy, science education, and gender representation in scientific disciplines all impact how science viewed broadly and how people interact with science day to day.  I conduct social science research projects with colleagues outside of the natural science realm in order to critically analyze these topics and to develop recommendations on how to fix them.  

While working in the tundra of Alaska, I leave no skin unprotected from the swarms of mosquitos so famous to the North Slope.  Women are currently underrepresented in Earth Sciences.