updated September 14, 2008
I am currently looking for one or more graduate students to begin work in Fall 2009 or thereafter.
Among the hottest things we'll have going at JHU is the 'clumped isotope in carbonate' paleothermometer (see references listed below). Carbonate clumped isotopes are a revolution in paleothermometry because, for the first time, a thermodynamically-based isotopic temperature measurement can be made in the absence of information about the isotopic composition of the fluid from which the mineral precipitated. This opens the door to unhindered paleothermometry in terrestrial, marine, and subsurface systems, and carbonate materials that work so far include corals, shells, soil carbonates, foraminifera, and dolomites, with speleothems and bioapatites showing promise for yielding useful information as well.
This disclipline is still in its early days, and the sky is the limit in terms of applications, system characterization in modern environments, thermodynamic characterization in the lab, and methodological development. We envision that when established in 2009-2010, Hopkins will be one of the few places worldwide where this measurement is successfully made, and one of even fewer where the measurement is fully automated—meaning higher throughput, more consistent results, and more time to do 'real science'.
In addition to clumped isotopes, we will have the capability to analyze isotope ratios of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen in organic and inorganic materials such as natural waters, plants, animal tissues, fossil teeth, and soil carbonates (some of this will be 'offline' at first, giving you a great chance to learn the traditional techniques of isotope geochemistry). A particularly exciting new avenue is isotope paleoecology of small mammals, including rodents and 'early' mammals; this is a virtually unexplored field that has recently opened up thanks to improvements in laser-enabled isotopic analysis. So, if you've got an interesting project in mind, we can probably accommodate it!
My approach to Earth Science, and one that I hope to pass along to students, is to combine field work, real 'hands dirty' lab work (i.e., not just handing samples to a lab technician), and modeling, along with an enjoyment of the spirit of collaboration and teaching.
If any of this sounds good, please don't hesitate to contact me for additional information, and check out the JHU Earth and Planetary Sciences page for information about our graduate program.
Clumped Isotope References:
Eiler JM, 2007. "Clumped-isotope" geochemistry—The study of naturally-occurring multiply-substituted isotopologues. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 262, 309-327.
Came RM, et al., 2007. Coupling of surface temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the Palaeozoic era. Nature, 449, 198-201
Ghosh P, et al., 2006. Rapid uplift of the Altiplano revealed through 13C-18O bonds in paleosol carbnonates. Science, 311, 511-515.
Ghosh P, et al., 2006. 13C-18O bonds in carbonate minerals: A new kind of paleothermometer. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 70, 1439-1456.