Paleontology/Geobiology

The Jackson School’s paleontology program is distinguished by its diverse and active faculty, modern equipment, and extensive reference collection. It has perennially been considered one of the top paleontology programs in the nation.


Paleontological research at the Jackson School is motivated by several overarching questions: What were the causes and mechanisms for change in major lineages represented in the fossil record? What is the evolutionary history of lineages such as echinoderms, reptiles, and mammals? How can we use the fossil record and phylogenetic hypotheses to test current theories, and make predictions about potential consequences of current global-change phenomena?

Vertebrate paleontologists in the Jackson School focus on the evolutionary morphology of vertebrates, evolutionary ecology (recent and ancient), phylogenetic systematics, and the evolution of development. A major tool in this work is a high resolution computer-aided tomography scanner for 3D imaging of fossil vertebrates.

 


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Faculty

Christopher J Bell

Christopher J Bell

Vertebrate paleontology and evolutionary morphology, North American Pliocene and Pleistocene small mammal biostratigraphy and biochronology, osteology, anatomy, and systematics of squamate reptiles and turtles, Impacts of climate change on vertebrate communities; history of science
Julia A Clarke

Julia A Clarke

Evolution of anatomical novelty, vertebrate paleontology, systematic biology, avian vocalization and the evolution of flight, fossil birds. Dinosaurs.
Charles  Kerans

Charles Kerans

Carbonate sequence stratigraphy, depositional systems, reservoir characterization, basin analysis, seismic interpretation, seismic stratigraphy, paleokarst analysis, carbonate diagenesis
Rowan C Martindale

Rowan C Martindale

Triassic and Jurassic reef paleoecology, mass extinctions (Triassic-Jurassic, 201 Ma), carbon cycle perturbation events in deep time, ocean acidification in deep time, Oceanic Anoxic Events, invertebrate paleontology (corals, sponges, algae, microbes), Mesozoic marine communities and ecosystems, exceptional fossil preservation (Lagersttten), paleoecology, marine ecology, Geoscience Education, educational game design, carbonate petrography, ...
Timothy B Rowe

Timothy B Rowe

Vertebrate paleontology, evolution and development of the vertebrate skeleton, phylogenetic systematics, the early history of mammals and their extinct relatives among Synapsida, the history of birds and their extinct relatives among Dinosauria, the history of other amniotes, high-resolution X-ray computed tomography, CT scanner, DigiMorph, informatics

Emeriti

Philip C Bennett

Philip C Bennett

Aqueous geochemistry, geomicrobiology, environmental and microbial geochemistry, hydrogeology

Research Scientists

Kitty L Milliken

Kitty L Milliken

Petrography and geochemistry of siliciclastic rocks; diagenesis; electron microbeam methods: X-ray mapping, cathodoluminescence imaging; micro-scale reservoir characterization
Cornelia  Rasmussen

Cornelia Rasmussen

Paleoecology, geobiology, geochemistry, geochronology, sedimentology

Research Staff

Kenneth Bader

Fossil Preparation Osteological Preparation Forensic Entomology
Lisa D Boucher

Lisa D Boucher

Paleobotany, Evolutionary Biology, Paleoecology, Biogeography, Plant Anatomy

Sara Elliott

Kelly  Hattori

Kelly Hattori

Carbonate sedimentology and stratigraphy, sequence stratigraphy, mixed carbonate-siliciclastic systems, salt-sediment interactions, reefs, ocean anoxic events and effect on carbonate deposition

Graduate Students

Emily Bamber

Emily Bamber

I am a PhD student in the Planetary Surface Processes lab My current research addresses the past evolution of impact crater lakes on Mars, Earth, and elsewhere with satellite observations, landscape modelling, and fieldwork. Specifically, I'm interested in how ...

Hector K Garza

Erin M Keenan Early

My research explores the use of geomolecular and biomolecular methodologies to address paleoenvironmental and paleoecological questions. Specifically I am researching the use of proteomics as applied to faunal material as a means of species identification and I am exploring the applications of brGDGTs recovered from various sources to aid in ...
John A Moretti

John A Moretti

I study changes in vertebrate community composition over the past 3-5 million years in western North America. With a primary focus on the Quaternary, my research occurs at the nexus between vertebrate paleontology, zooarchaeology, and conservation biology. My work involves developing records of biodiversity and biogeography across time in order ...

Liam Norris

Liam Norris is a PhD student at the Jackson School of Geosciences. He has a B.S. in Geology with a specialization in biology from Texas A&M University, where he also conducted research on Pennsylvanian seed ferns preserved in coal balls. Liams research interests are based around paleoecology, ...
William  Reyes

William Reyes

Current research interests include: 1) The macroevolutionary processes that drive vertebrate evolution; 2) The faunal dynamics (i.e., speciation, extinction, geographic range shifts, eco-morphological diversity) in the Late Triassic; 3) The endocranial morphology and paleoneurology of Triassic pseudosuchians; 4) Assessing intraspecific variation in the fossil record and how it influences our phylogenetic hypotheses of ...
Sinjini Sinha

Sinjini Sinha

Sinjini Sinha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Martindale lab. Her doctoral research is about assessing the impacts of environmental changes on Early Jurassic exceptional preservation, extinction, and recovery. She uses Scanning Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersive X-Ray spectroscopy to investigate the taphonomy of Lagersttten deposits from the ...
Stacie  Skwarcan

Stacie Skwarcan

Patty  Standring

Patty Standring

Co-advised by Dr. Chris Lowery and Dr. Rowan Martindale for PhD. Current research is focused on deep ocean current changes in the southern Gulf of Mexico, surface circulation changes in the western Atlantic around the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT) using stable isotopes from benthic and planktic foraminifera combined with paleoecology, and ...
Travis N Stone

Travis N Stone

Travis Stone is a fourth year PhD candidate working in the Martindale lab. He received his B.S. in Geological Sciences in 2018 from California State University, Fullerton, where he studied Triassic reefs and their recovery following the End-Permian mass extinction in the Panthalassic Ocean. Travis' research is focused on ecosystem ...
Claire  Williams

Claire Williams

Claire Williams is a PhD student at the Jackson School of Geosciences. She has a B.S. in Geology and in Integrative Biology and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is a biologist turned paleobiologist interested in conservation paleobiology. Claire is currently studying coral reefs ...

MSc or PhD Student

Graduate
Our team is almost always interested in recruiting new graduate students who are interested in paleoecology, marine communities, carbonate sedimentology, and/or geobiology. We currently have teo areas of focus, modern and Pleistocene reef and coastal communities in Jamaica and Early Jurassic marine paleoecology in Morocco
Posted by: Rowan Martindale

Research Triassic vertebrates (Paleontology)

Undergraduate
Undergraduates interested in Triassic vertebrates of Texas and the Colorado Plateau!! Get involved with new research including digital segmentation of CT-scanned specimens from Petrified Forest National Park and the University of Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Collections, preparation of vertebrate fossils collected by the WPA in the early 1900s, and photographic documentation of those materials. Opportunities exist for students to develop independent research related to the main questions associated with this project. Projects begin in the Fall, 2022 semester. Interested students should contact Will Reyes (will_reyes@utexas.edu) and Chris Bell (cjbell@jsg.utexas.edu).
Posted by: Christopher Bell

Research Phillips Cave fossils (Paleontology)

Undergraduate
Dedicated, enthusiastic undergraduate student(s) sought to help work on fossils from Phillips Cave in Crockett County, Texas. Student(s) will help with screen-washing, sorting, identifying, and curating vertebrate fossils from Ice-Age sediments in the cave. Students will learn aspects of the anatomy of the vertebrate skeleton as they contribute to broadening our understanding of vertebrate paleobiogeography on the Edwards Plateau. The project is under way and volunteers can be brought on board immediately. Interested students should contact Stacie Skwarcan (sskwarca@utexas.edu) and Chris Bell (cjbell@jsg.utexas.edu).
Posted by: Christopher Bell

Research Inner-Space Cavern fossils (Paleontology)

Undergraduate
Dedicated, enthusiastic undergraduate student(s) sought to help work on fossils from Inner Space Cavern in Williamson County, Texas. Student(s) will help with screen-washing, sorting, identifying, and curating vertebrate fossils from Ice-Age sediments in the cave. Students will learn aspects of the anatomy of the vertebrate skeleton as they contribute to studying patterns of vertebrate diversity through time in the context of climate change. Potential opportunities exist for motivated students to pursue independent supervised research related to the main questions associated with this project. Projects begin in the Fall, 2022 semester. Interested students should contact John Moretti (jamoretti@utexas.edu) and Chris Bell (cjbell@jsg.utexas.edu).
Posted by: Christopher Bell

Center for Planetary Systems Habitability

The Center for Planetary Systems Habitability is an interdisciplinary research center at UT and is the result of a partnership between the Jackson School, the College of Natural Sciences, and the Cockrell School of Engineering. The center advances our ability to search for life on other planets by collaborating on research that helps better understand where habitable zones develop and how they evolve within planetary systems.

High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility

The High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility at The University of Texas at Austin (UTCT) is a national shared multi-user facility supported by the Instrumentation and Facilities Program of NSF's Earth Sciences (EAR) directorate. UTCT offers scientific researchers across the earth, biological and engineering sciences access to a completely nondestructive technique for visualizing features in the interior of opaque solid objects, and for obtaining digital information on their 3D geometries and properties.

Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory

NPL was created in 1999 as an answer to the increasing conservation and curation issues developing with the huge increase in collection size. Collections placed in the care of TNSC mainly were derived from research at the BEG, the UTDGS and the Museum (TMM) itself. Other material came from orphaned collections within Texas. Numerous other collections have been contributed as donations. Although an exact count has never been made, the collection is estimated to contain about 4 million specimens.

Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory

The mission of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory is three-fold, involving research, conservation, and education pertaining to the history of vertebrates. In particular, VPL focuses on the history of vertebrates in Texas and adjacent regions, but much broader studies are also conducted to establish a national and global context for Texas vertebrate history.

Affiliated UT Programs & Centers

Environmental Science Institute

The Environmental Science Institute is a multi-disciplinary institute for basic scientific research in environmental studies founded by The University of Texas at Austin. The Institute serves as a focal point on campus for a wide scope of interdisciplinary research and teaching involving the complex interactions of the biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere in the Earth system, as well as the human dimensions of these interactions.
Posted by Marcus Gary
Photos of research of the Sistema Zacaton karst area Posted by Peter P Flaig
Photo set includes images of fieldwork done on the North Slope of Alaska from 2005-2013