Curriculum Vitae — Benjamin H. Passey
updated Nov 2012

Academic Background

2009-present:  Assistant Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences,  Johns Hopkins University.

2007-2009: Dreyfus Postdoctoral Scholar in Environmental Geochemistry, Caltech.

Projects:  Application of the new carbonate clumped isotope thermometer to paleoenvironments of human evolution in East Africa; Refinement and automation of the D47 measurement.

2007:  Doctor of Philosophy in Geology, University of Utah.  

Dissertation title: "Stable isotope paleoecology: Methodological advances and applications to the Neogene environmental history of China"

2004:  Master of Science in Geology, University of Utah.

Thesis title: “Forward and inverse models of time-averaging in intra-tooth isotope profiles.”

2001:  Bachelor of Science in Geology, University of Utah. 

Undergraduate project:  “Environmental change in the Great Plains: An isotopic record from fossil horses.”


Johns Hopkins University

EPS 270.313 Isotope Geochemistry (grad/upper-level ugrad). Spring 2010, 2012, 2013.

EPS 270.103 Introduction to Global Environmental Change (ugrad lower-level).  Fall 2010, 2011, 2012.

EPS 270.377 Climates of the Past (grad/upper-level ugrad). Spring 2011, 2012, 2013.

EPS 270.633 Advanced Topics in Isotope Geochemistry (grad seminar).  Weekly ongoing seminar.

University of Utah

GG 3090 Earth Materials II (lower-level ugrad).  Part semester instructor, Spring 2007.

GG 5660 Geochemistry (upper-level ugrad), Teaching Assistant, Fall 2006.

GG 4100 Optical Mineralogy and Petrology (upper-level ugrad), Teaching Assistant, Fall 2006.

GG 3300 The Water Planet (gen ed class), Teaching Assistant, Spring 2004.

BIOL 6470 SIRFER stable isotope short course, Laboratory Assistant.  June 2002, 2003, 2004. 2005.

Grants and Awards

2012: NSF-EAR, Geobiology and Low Temperature Geochemistry (EAR 1227076).  Collaborative Research: Constraining rates of C-O bond reordering in biogenic calcite: Implications for clumped isotope thermometry.  Sept 1, 2012 - Aug 31, 2014.

2010: American Chemical Society, Petroleum Research Fund (PRF#50321-DNI2).  Carbonate 'clumped isotope' thermometry: Constraining closure temperatures for the 13C-18O order/disorder process in carbonate minerals. July 1, 2010 - Aug 31, 2012.

2010: NSF-BCS-Archeology (BCS-0948310).  Collaborative research: Rodent diets and habitat reconstructions in South Africa: an actualistic and applied multidisciplinary study.  March 1, 2010 - Feb 29, 2012 (co-PI with M. Sponheimer and P. Ungar).

2007: 'Outstanding PhD student in Geology', Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah. 

2005:  GSA student research grant.  “Late Miocene terrestrial environments and C4 vegetation in north-central China: An isotopic record from fossil mammals and soil carbonate”

2005:  Outstanding student talk, North Central GSA. “Improvements in laser ablation GC/IRMS (d13C, d18O) methodology for isotopic analysis of small bioapatite samples."

2004:  Associated Students of the University of Utah, stipend for travel to China.

2003:  ‘Outstanding Masters Student in Geology’, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah.

2000:  ‘Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Geology’, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Univ. of Utah.

University of Utah Undergraduate Scholarships:

2000-2001:    Bullock-Keller Scholarship
1999-2000:    Dorothy Rice Goode Scholarship
1998-1999:    Mineralogical Society of Utah Memorial Scholarship
1997-1998:    Chevron Scholarship in Geophysics

Laboratory Experience

2009-present (Johns Hopkins): Set up a new stable isotope lab at Johns Hopkins University.  Thermofinnigan MAT 253 mass spectrometer, automated carbonate device for carbonate 'clumped isotope analysis', laser ablation extraction line for d13C and d18O analysis of bioapatites, offline multipurpose vacuum line.

2007-2008 (Caltech): Design and construction of an online, automated sample prep system for analysis of clumped isotopes in carbonate.  This system runs in a custom-programmed Labview vi, and features automated valve control, x-y lifter control, GC control, and coupling with the ThermoFinnigan Isodat software interface.

2004-2005 (Utah): Development of laser ablation methods for stable isotope analysis of bioapatite.

Spring + Summer 2003 (Utah):  Helped to set up a new stable isotope lab (Cerling Lab, Department of Biology facility), including online automated peripherals and offline vacuum prep lines.

Computational approaches using Matlab, ImageJ, Volsuite, Imod, Labview for addressing forward and inverse geobiological problems, image processing, and 3-D processing and visualization of volumetric data.

2000 – 2006:  Design and implementation of controlled-feeding experiments on large and small mammals (in collaboration with Brigham Young University Animal Science and University of Utah Biology) aimed at establishing diet-tissue fractionation factors, characterizing tooth development, and establishing turnover rates of C, H, O, and N in animal systems.       


November 2010: Egypt, Fayum Depression.  Eocene-Oligocene environmental and biotic change (with Eric Seiffert, Tom Bown, Prithijit Chatrath, Elwyn Simons, Mark Mathison).

July 2010: USA, Wyoming, Bighorn Basin.  Early Eocene paleoenvironments (with Ken Rose, Amy Chew, Naomi Levin, Marina Suarez, Rebecca Kraft).

July 2007, June-July 2008:  China (Inner Mongolia) Investigation of Miocene fossil mammal localities and associated sediments (with Mikael Fortelius, Zhang Zhaoqun, Liu Liping, Anu Kaakinen, and others).

September 2004, 2005:  China (Shanxi Province). Sedimentology and stable isotope stratigraphy of the late Neogene ‘hipparion’ red clay  and loess deposits (with Mikael Fortelius, Zhang Zhaoqun, Anu Kaakinen, and others).

August 2003:  Australia. Continent-wide sampling of modern faunal remains, plants, and natural waters for stable isotope ecology studies (with Linda Ayliffe).

Dec. 2001, June 2002:  Argentina (Catamarca Province). Tephra-stratigraphy and stable isotope survey of late Miocene through Pleistocene terrestrial deposits (with Thure Cerling, Pepe Prado and Scott Hynek).

Aug. 2000:  Kenya. Turkana basin geology, and modern floral and faunal collections from national parks (with Frank Brown, Thure Cerling, and John Harris).

Feb. 1999:  Ethiopia. Initial restudy of Kibish Formation, Ethiopia to determine stratigraphic placement and age of early Homo sapiens. (with Frank Brown, John Fleagle).

Invited Talks: Meetings, Symposia, Workshops

November 2012: Carbonate clumped isotope thermometry of paleosol carbonates.  2012 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 4-7, 2012.  Session T127, "Terrestrial Proxies of Paleoclimate and Paleoenvironment in Deep Time."

November 2012: Reconstructing terrestrial environments using stable isotopes in fossil teeth and paleosol carbonates.  Paleontological Society Short Course: "Reconstructing Earth's Deep Time Climate -- The State of the Art in 2012". Charlotte, North Carolina, November 4, 2012.

April 2012: Thermal environments of human evolution based on carbonate clumped isotope thermometry.  Climate Change / Human Evolution Workshop, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, April 21-22 2012.

August 2011: Experimental studies of C-O bond reordering in calcite: Relevance to preservation and thermal history of carbonates.  Second International Clumped Isotope Workshop, London, August 2011.

July 2011: (Keynote) Deep-time paleoclimate reconstruction using carbonate clumped isotope thermometry: A status report. 17th International Congress on the Carboniferous and Permian, Perth, Australia, July, 2011.

April 2010: Clumped isotopes in recent and fossil soil carbonates. First International Meeting on Clumped Isotope Geochemistry, Seattle, WA, April 15-17, 2010.

June 2005: The role of X-ray microCT, linear systems, and inversion theory in the meaningful interpretation of intra-tooth isotope profiles.  First International Workshop on Taphonomy and Biochemistry Applied to Human and Environmental Sciences, Paris, France, June 2005.

Invited Talks: Departmental Seminars

October 2012:                 Texas A&M University, Department of Geology & Geophysics

February 2012:                University of Florida, Department of Geological Sciences

February 2012:                University of Minnesota, Department of Geology and Geophysics

January 2012:                 Syracuse University, Department of Earth Sciences

September 2011:             University of Maryland, Department of Geology

September 2011:             University of Utah, Department of Geology and Geophysics

May 2011:                      Carnegie Institute of Washington, Geophysical Lab

March 2011:                    ETH Zurich, Department of Earth Sciences

January 2011:                  Southern Methodist University, Department of Earth Sciences

December 2010:              Princeton University, Department of Geosciences

September 2010:             University of Maryland, Department of Geology

September 2009:             Johns Hopkins University, Geography and Envir. Engineering

October 2009:                 Carnegie Institute of Washington, Geophysical Lab

December 2008:              UC Santa Cruz, Earth and Planetary Sciences

May 2008:                      UC Irvine, Department of Earth System Science

May 2008:                      Johns Hopkins University, Earth and Planetary Science (Job Talk)

February 2008:               Lehigh University, Earth and Environmental Science (Job Talk)


Referee Service (~65 reviews, 15 in 2012)

BMC Ecology (1)

Earth and Planetary Science Letters (7)

Ecology (1)

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (7)

Geology (3)

Global Ecology and Biogeography (1)

Journal of Archaeological Science (1)

Journal of Geophysical Research, Biogeosciences (2)

Journal of Human Evolution (2)

Journal of Mammalogy (1)

Nature Geoscience (1)

Naturwissenschaften (2)

Oecologia (1)

Palaeo-3 (12)

Paleoceanography (1)

PNAS (4)

Quaternary Science Reviews (1)

Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry (1)

Science (1)

US National Science Foundation (11)

Swiss National Science Foundation (1)

Austrian Science Foundation (1)

PhD Dissertation Committees (2)

Professional Affiliations

Geological Society of America

American Geophysical Union

Geochemical Society