Josephine Christon

Using fossils to better understand periods of global warming in Earth's past

This project will consist of cuticular analysis of oak and sycamore leaves in order to more thoroughly discern the relationship between light levels and stomatal index of the leaf, which will help increase the accuracy of models that help us understand past environmental factors through morphological characteristics of fossil leaves. We are also planning to travel to Tennessee and Kentucky over the summer to collect samples from the Eocene Gulf Coastal Plain plant communities of the Claiborne formation, where we can use the morphological leaf characteristics to better understand the evolution of ecosystems in the early Paleogene, a period of long-term warming in Earth’s history. Warming in the early Paleogene was likely similar to current global warming patterns, and studying the flora response to long-term global warming could help us to predict the effects of global warming currently, as well as increase understanding of how the biota reacts to environmental factors on a large scale.

Message to Sponsor

Thank you so much to the donors who are supporting my research this summer. I love studying the Earth, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to do some really exciting paleoecological field work! I hope that this research can help us to understand the huge global change that we are facing so that we can better protect and heal our Earth.
  • Major: Planetary Science & Integrative Biology
  • Mentor: Cynthia Looy and Jenn Wagner, Integrative Biology