October 2, 2009
WOOSTER, Ohio - The College of Wooster will be well represented when an estimated 6,000 geoscientists from across the country and around the world gather for the 121st meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) Oct. 18-21 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
"This is a great opportunity for us to share our research," said Greg Wiles, associate professor of geology at Wooster. "The students gain invaluable experience presenting their research as posters and interacting with other scientists who are working on similar projects."
Mark Wilson, the Lewis M. and Marian Senter Nixon Professor of Natural Science and Geology at Wooster, will present a talk on Late Cretaceous (about 70 million year old) fossils from South Dakota and Wyoming. His coauthors are John Sime, a 2009 Wooster graduate, and Paul Taylor of the Natural History Museum in London. Together, they found small trace fossils (the burrows and scratches of animals) inside the shells of fossil ammonites (extinct squid-like creatures) in the
Pierre Shale during summer fieldwork. These traces show a previously unknown community that lived cryptically in the shells after the ammonites had died, and they help solve a mystery as to how these ammonites were buried and preserved.
Wilson is also a coauthor on a poster given by Elyssa Belding Krivicich ('09) with former students Meredith Sharpe ('08), Sophie Lehmann ('08), and Jeff Bowen ('07). The topic is the description and interpretation of Middle Jurassic (160 million year old) marine communities and their ancient environments in what is now the Negev Desert of southern Israel. This presentation summarizes their field and lab work over the last three years, emphasizing the novelty of these
corals, sponges, brachiopods, mollusks, and echinoderms that lived near what was then the equator in very warm and shallow waters.
Senior geology majors Colin Mennett and Kelly Aughenbaugh, and collaborator Nick Weisenberg will join Wiles in discussing several dendrochronology projects in Ohio and western Pennsylvania, which involved coring timbers in historical structures to determine dates of construction. Funded in part by Wooster's Center for Entrepreneurship the research is coordinated through the geology department's tree-ring lab.
Mennett and Wiles will also discuss their work with Daniel Lawson of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab in an effort to understand why Alaskan yellow cedar trees are dying on a large scale in Alaska. Mennett has been examining tree-ring and climate records to evaluate the changing environmental stresses faced by Alaskan cedar and what is contributing to their demise.
Stephanie Jarvis, a junior biology and geology double major, will talk about her experience this past summer as part of the National Science Foundation Eastern Kentucky University/University of Kentucky Appalachian Headwaters Research Experience for Undergraduates program, which is studying the effects of surface mining and reclamation on soil nutrient cycling and headwater health eastern Kentucky. Her project used nitrogen isotope data to look at the effects of surface mining and reclamation on soil nutrient cycling. She focused on mycorrhizal fungi relationships, looking at the flux of nitrogen between the soil, mycorrhizal fungi, and mycorrhizal trees.
Terry Workman, a senior archaeology major, collaborated with Wiles and scientists from the University of Cincinnati, Middlebury College, and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Soldontna, Alaska, to understand past lake levels as measures of precipitation over several thousand years in that region. The project was funded by the Keck Geology Consortium.
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