Researcher Profile

Jackson School of Geosciences

Rowan C Martindale

Rowan C Martindale
Assistant Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences

Work: +1 512 475 6439
Office: JGB 3.216A, JGB 5.142
Mailcode: C1100
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Publications (pdf)

I am an Assistant Professor at UT Austin in the Department of Geosciences. My students and I are already involved with many paleontological, geobiological, and sedimentological projects so please contact me if think you may be interested in joining the group. Check out specific projects and facilities on our website:

I am primarily interested in marine paleoecology and the geobiology of carbon cycle perturbation events (e.g. mass extinctions, ocean anoxic events, and ocean acidification events in deep time). My research also includes carbonate sedimentology and the paleontology/paleobiology of reef builders (e.g corals and sponges). I am currently working on the Pliensbachian-Toarcian (Early Jurassic, ~183 Ma) reef crisis and Toarcian Ocean Anoxic Event. My doctoral research focused on the reef demise and extinction at the Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) boundary, which has been hypothesized to be an ocean acidification event caused by the rapid eruption of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province and subsequent release of carbon dioxide. Extinction events, such as the Triassic-Jurassic, draw attention for their catastrophism, however, lesser extinction events can be just as interesting, particularly for resolving questions pertaining to species survival and ecosystem recovery. The Late Triassic and Early Jurassic events will help us understand what environmental conditions cause massive ecosystem collapse, and what conditions marine biota can survive. A large part of my research involves the study of Upper Triassic and Lower Jurassic reef ecosystems, the newly evolved scleractinian corals, and reef variations geographically and temporally. I have also begun research on an Early Jurassic Lagerstatte, which preserves both pelagic and benthic communities across the Toarcian Ocean Anoxic Event. In future work, I am interested in combining my research on ancient ocean carbon cycle perturbations and extinctions with research on modern reef decline and stressors that inhibit the secretion of calcareous skeleton.

Areas of Expertise

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 (Lagerstätten), paleoecology, carbonate petrography, warm-water and cool-water carbonate (eco)systems, low-temperature geochemistry.

Research Locations

Current Research Programs & Projects

Mass Extinctions and their Causes ( view )Carbon-cycle Perturbation Events: Community collapse or resilience? ( view )Triassic and Jurassic Reef Paleoecology ( view )Paleocene-Eocene Reefs and the PETM ( view )Paleobiology of Reef Builders ( view )Exceptional Fossil Preservation (Lagerstatten) ( view )

2013 Outstanding Paper in Palaios - SEPM (2015)

Critical infrastructure upgrades and expanded digital access to Non-vertebrate Paleontology Collections at the University of Texas at Austin - NSF Collections in Support of Biological Research (2015)

CNS Catalyst Grant - University of Texas at Austin, College of Natural Sciences (2015 - 2016)

JSG Seed Grant - Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin (2013 - 2016)

Postdoctoral Scholar (declined) - Scripps Institution of Oceanography (2012)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (declined) - Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2012)

AGU Session Organizer, AGU Annual Meeting (2015 - 2016)

Science Advisor, Paleontological Society of Austin (2015 - Present)

AGU Outstanding Student Presentation Judge, Judge and Session Liason, American Geophysical Union (AGU) (2015 - Present)

Session Chair, Caribbean Coral Reefs at Risk Symposium (2015)

Poster Symposium Judge, Jackson School of Geosciences Student Symposium (2015 - Present)

Executive committee member, Secretary, GSA Geobiology and Geomicrobiology Division (2014 - Present)

Board of Directors, Workshop Committee, STEPPE Consortium (2014 - Present)

GSA Session Organizer, GSA Annual Meeting (2013 - 2014)

Reviewer, NSF; Science; Geology; Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology; Sedimentology (2008 - Present)


William Foster
received his PhD from Plymouth University, UK, and an integrated Masters from the University of Hull, UK. William is a paleoecologist primarily interested in the recovery of marine invertebrates following the late Permian mass extinction event. His research focuses on how subsequent environmental change following the late Permian mass extinction led to shifts in the recovery of the benthos and if wave-aerated settings provided a ‘habitable zone’ allowing diverse benthic life to survive and recover following major climate warming.

Graduate Students

Anna M Weiss , Ph.D., expected 2019 (Supervisor)
I am a PhD candidate in the Martindale lab. I received my undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Geology from Stony Brook University in 2013. My research interests are broad and include the consequences of climate change for biotic communities, the evolution of keystone species, and the use of databases, statistical analyses, and models in paleoecology. At UT, I focus on the impacts of temperature, nutrients, and other environmental stressors on corals during a carbon-cycle perturbation event approximately 56 million years ago (the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum). I am also a passionate environmentalist and would like to integrate my work with a growing body of research that aims to better predict and mitigate the effects of climate change on modern coral reefs.

Benjamin Smith , Ph.D., expected 2019 (Committee Member)
I am fourth year PhD student studying carbonate sedimentology and stratigraphy. I am interested in ancient carbonate platforms as both reservoirs as well as records of biogeochemical change throughout earth history. My research focuses on unravelling this carbonate record by integrating outcrop-based field studies with quantitative data such as 3D point cloud models and geochemistry.

Nicholas Ettinger , M.S., expected 2017 (Supervisor)
My research focuses on carbonate systems of the Lower Jurassic, in which I aim to document sedimentological and geochemical changes between the Pliensbachian and Toarcian. We predict changes in the early Toarcian to be apparent as a result of the Toarcian Ocean Anoxic Event. Through studying these systems in the Dinaric and Adriatic platforms of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean, I endeavour to draw analogies to other Lower Jurassic conjugate margin platforms that are not as accessible.

Kelly Hattori , M.S., expected 2017 (Supervisor)
I am a master's student in the Martindale lab. I obtained my undergraduate degrees in Geology and Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a strong focus in paleontology and ecology. My research interests range broadly and include Mesozoic coral reef paleoecology, Pleistocene mollusk paleoecology, Eocene lacustrine taphonomy, and digitization techniques for museum collections. Here at UT, I will be focusing on coral reef paleoecology and transitions in reef community composition in a changing ocean environment. I intend to add my data sets to those obtained from modern coral reefs in order to gain a broader understanding of effects of a changing global climate upon reef communities. Outside of paleontology, I enjoy traveling, SCUBA diving, and working on classic cars.

Selva M Marroquin , M.S., expected 2016 (Supervisor)
I am a second year graduate student pursuing a Master's degree at the Jackson School of Geosciences. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Sciences from Tufts University in 2014. My research focuses on an Early-Jurassic Lagerstätte from Alberta that contains the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event and preserves the soft tissue of Octobrachia Coleoids. The coleoids collected from this site are some of the only specimens to have been found outside of Europe for this time period. My aim is to image these fossils in novel ways in order to describe the species as well as researching the preservation and paleobiogeography of the specimens. I plan on applying to PhD programs to investigate paleoenvironmental changes in earth history, specifically I am interested in working on marine black shales and oceanic anoxia. I would like to combine geochemical techniques with my paleontological background to investigate environmental perturbations around black shale deposits as well as expanding the record of known oceanic anoxic events outside of the Northern Hemisphere (specifically North America and Europe). Additionally, I would like to investigate how the fauna reacted to such changes in environment as well as investigating taphonomy and small scale geochemical changes that affect an organisms ability to be preserved. In my spare time I enjoy traveling and have had wonderful opportunities in school as an undergraduate and graduate student to travel internationally. Having spent time in South America I would love to go back to complete research in Argentina or Chile or other parts of Latin America.

Chiara Tornabene , M.S., expected 2016 (Supervisor)
I'm is a second year Masters student working with Dr. Rowan Martindale. My current research aims to determine novel proxies to test for photosymbiosis in Mesozoic corals. Photosymbiosis is a mutualistic relationship between modern corals and dinoflagellates called zooxanthellae. Because zooxanthellae are not preserved in the fossil record, my research aims to define a quantitative proxy for ancient photosymbiosis using stable isotope geochemistry.

Hannah Brame (Supervisor)

Mesozoic Marine Communities and the Extinctions that Shaped Them, Texas A&M University, College Station (2016)

Reefs, Extinctions, and Lagerstätten! Oh My!, University of Texas, San Antonio, San Antonio (2015)

Reefs, Lagerstätten, and Extinctions!, Paleontological Society of Austin, Austin (2015)

2017Fall GEO 322J Transitions In History Of Life
2017Fall GEO 397L Transitions In Hist Of Life
2017Spring GEO 405 Life Through Time
2017Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2016Fall GEO 371T Evolution Of Reef Ecosystems
2016Fall GEO 389E Evolution Of Reef Ecosystems
2016Spring GEO 405 Life Through Time
2016Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2015Fall GEO 371T Transitions In History Of Life
2015Fall GEO 391 Transitions In History Of Life
2015Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2015Spring GEO 391 Evolution Of Reef Ecosystems
2015Spring GEO 391 Exceptional Fossilization

PhD Student (Graduate)
I am accepting applications for a new PhD Student in my lab. This student must be interested in paleontological or carbonate sedimentology research (both would be best), and should be aware of the current/recent projects in the Martindale Lab. Exceptional MSc students will be considered, but preference is for a doctoral student (prior research experience at the undergraduate or MSc level is desired).


Martindale Lab Website
The website for the Martindale research group at UT Austin.

Finding Fossils
This is my science blog, check it out for photos and stories from the field and my research.

Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab
The Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab website on Pickle Research Campus

GSA Geobiology & Geomicrobiology Website
News and Updates from the GSA Geobiology & Geomicrobiology Division