I first mentored undergraduate students as a post-doctoral researcher at Princeton University, but I’ve been most successful with mentoring the ultra-motivated students here at UCI!
Because some parts of my research require very simple laboratory methods, we frequently accept students with no laboratory experience. These students typically begin by learning to prepare ocean sediment (“mud”) for geochemical analysis using standard geological methods—essentially what a gold miner does while looking for gold in a stream. If the student is motivated and good at laboratory work, I will teach them more advanced methods and they can ultimately learn how to prepare and analyze the radioactive isotope of carbon (radiocarbon) in our lab here at UCI, which is arguably the world’s best lab for these measurements.
My research program is focused on addressing how Earth processes influence the atmospheric concentration of the important greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and we analyze geological archives like rocks, sediment, corals, and more to identify past ocean and climate conditions. I’ve had several students conduct their senior thesis research by measuring the radiocarbon content of these geological archives, which provide insight to past ocean and climate conditions. These include investigating the basic characteristics of radiocarbon in ocean sediments and how seawater radiocarbon has changed since the last ice age. Our current work includes developing new methods for quickly understanding the “calendar” age of ocean sediments, investigating theories about how carbon is moved throughout the global ocean, identifying changes in Baja California precipitation alongside atmospheric CO2 since the last ice age, and testing how well these sedimentary microfossils are recording seawater chemistry.