Amy Thorpe (ACT525@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Unlocking the Toolbox of Soil Bacterial Biomarkers
Supervisors: Dr Dan Read (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), Dr James Bendle (University of Birmingham)
Amy’s PhD research aims to characterise the relationship between 3-hydroxy fatty acids (3-OH-FAs), the species of bacteria that produce them, and the climate. The structure and distribution of 3-OH-FAs in terrestrial ecosystems varies with the climate as a consequence of the physiological response of bacteria to temperature and pH. These fatty acids can therefore act as biomarkers of environmental conditions. Working with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, she is using molecular and bioinformatic approaches to investigate the diversity of the bacterial community in soils and couple this with 3-OH-FA distributions and environmental factors. An improved understanding of the ecological responses of the bacterial community responsible for the correlation between 3-OH-FAs and the environment is required to enable development of the use of these biomarkers in the reconstruction of paleoclimates.
Alice Hardman (ALH540@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Development and application of novel palaeoclimate proxies based on 3-hydroxy fatty acids
Supervisors: Dr James Bendle, Dr Tom Dunkley-Jones
Alice’s PhD research is in palaeoclimatology and organic geochemistry. In particular, working with 3-hydroxy fatty acids (3-OH FAs), which are sourced from Gram-negative soil bacteria. 3-OH FA biochemistry is influenced by environmental conditions, such as soil temperature and pH. Therefore 3-OH FAs have potential as a novel terrestrial palaeoclimate biomarker. This PhD research will involve a continental calibration of 3-OH FAs in the USA, by extracting such fatty acids from surface soil and lake sediment samples from US soil and lake transects. The results will develop the current understanding of the physiological response of Gram-negative bacteria to their external environment, and will contribute to the application of 3-OH FAs as a terrestrial palaeoclimate biomarker.
Adam Browne (email@example.com)
The key aim of Adam’s research is to develop a detailed model of the stratigraphy and emplacement of the Antrim Lava Group within the setting of the North Atlantic Igneous Province. The relationship between the Antrim Lava Group magmatism, lava emplacement and continental breakup remains incompletely understood. Eruption rates are challenging to reconstruct on short timescales, but a detailed understanding of lava emplacement can help better constrain the role of magma generation within continental rifting processes and provide robust models to aid related resource exploration and definition. Techniques, developments and publications generated by this work will inform work at international sites found in India, South Africa, Siberia and feed into Central Atlantic (CAMP) studies.
Zainab Abdullah Issa Al Rawahi (ZAA445@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Nannoplankton Biostratigraphy, Paleoceanographic and Paleoenvironmental implications of the Fiqa Formation, Oman.
Zainab Al Rawahi is undertaking doctoral research into the biostratigraphy of nannofossils and other calcareous microfossils, as well as their paleoceanographic and paleoenvironmental implications, in the Fiqa Formation from North and South Oman. The project is sponsored by PDO (Petroleum Development Oman). The research focuses on bio-chronostratigraphic subdivision and correlation based on nannoplankton biostratigraphy and integration with existing microfossils and geological data . Zainab is mainly using routine nannoplankton biostratigraphy work, XRF analysis and carbon isotope techniques. These allow for new constraints on the age and its diachronous nature across the subsurface. As well as achieving a basin-wide correlation to help in the understanding of the complexity of the Late Cretaceous basin and its sequence stratigraphy, provenance and sediment entry points, time stratigraphy vs. lithostratigraphy and integration with seismic stratigraphy.
David Cavell (DEC551@bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Investigating the role of oceanic plateaus in early continental growth.
Supervisors: Dr Alan Hastie and Dr Sebastian Watt
Funded by NERC through the CENTA DTP
David is researching modern analogues of early continental crust to better understand the processes which formed Earth’s first continents. This early continental crust is composed largely of tonalities, tronjhemites and granodiorites (TTG). The oldest of these rocks is Eoarchaean (3.6 - 4.0 Ga) TTG (ETTG), derived from melting of thick, basaltic crust. ETTG have modern analogues in volcanic rocks derived from partial melting of subducted oceanic plateau in Jamaica, known as Jamaican-type adakites (JTA). David is studying rocks from Panama and Colombia with compositions similar to JTA, to see if their mode of formation is similar to JTA and ETTG.
Daniel Cox (DXC506@student.bham.ac.uk)
Supervisors: Dr Sebastian Watt and Dr Alan Hastie
Daniel’s research focuses on investigating the distribution of the economically important chalcophile elements (e.g., Cu, Ag, Pb) above subduction zones. Using the Central and Southern Volcanic Zones in Chile as an example, this work aims to understand the processing of the chalcophile elements within the sub-arc mantle wedge and the continental crust. Daniel’s research has implications for understanding the cycling of Sulphur within a subduction zone and for the generation of ore deposits.
Rosemary Dartnall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PhD title: The sedimentology, stratigraphy, and age of the the mélange deposits of the Gwna Group, Anglesey and Llŷn, north-west Wales.
Supervisors: Professor Ian Fairchild and Dr James Wheeley, University of Birmingham; Professor Paul Smith, University of Oxford; Dr David Schofield, British Geological Survey.
The Gwna mélange crops out on Anglesey and north-west Wales, along with geographically associated blueschist and greenschist belts, considered collectively to comprise a record of Neoproterozoic subduction. Rosemary’s Gwna Group work includes field study, petrographic and geochemical analyses designed to elucidate the genetic history of the Gwna mélange. Questions include: How and when was the mélange formed? What was the regional tectonic setting at that time? How does the mélange relate to the units below and above? Does the tectonic setting concur with what the known mosaic of early Palaeozoic peri-Gondwanan terrane dispersal and the history of the Iapetus Ocean?
Emma Dunne (EXD526@bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Quantifying patterns of diversity during the rise of tetrapods.
Supervisors: Professor Richard Butler and Dr Roger Close.
Emma’s research focuses on the patterns and drivers of terrestrial vertebrate (tetrapod) diversity and biogeography from the Carboniferous to Jurassic (359-175 million years ago). Currently there is widespread disagreement about major patterns of diversity change during these intervals, stemming from the debate on the significance of spatial and temporal sampling biases. Emma uses a diverse range of computational methods, including rigorous sampling standardisation, to address key questions surrounding tetrapod diversity and biogeography including: how ecosystems responded in the aftermath of environmental change; are changes in diversity correlated with major shifts in global climatic conditions; how sampling of the tetrapod fossil record varies in time and space, and to what extent these biases may limit the identification of genuine diversity patterns.
Jonathan Hall (email@example.com)
PhD title: Plio-Pleistocene environmental and oceanographic change in the North Atlantic Ocean
Supervisors: Dr Steve Jones, Dr Tom Dunkley Jones and Dr James Bendle(University of Birmingham)
Jonathan’s research aims to generate new palaeoenvironmental, palaeogeographic and palaeoclimatic understandings of the Neogene NE Atlantic. It focuses on the multi-proxy environmental analysis of several industrial and scientific boreholes on the NW European continental margin, with a particular focus on the impact of long-term oceanic gateway morphology on NE Atlantic oceanography and climate.
Alastair Hodgetts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PhD Title: Volcanic Hazards in the Mexico City Region: Probing a 500,000 year record of diverse eruptions from a lacustrine succession.
Supervisors: Dr Sebastian Watt (University of Birmingham), Dr Victoria Smith (University of Oxford), Prof Mike Branney (University of Leicester).
Alastair’s research is aimed at understanding the tempo and style of explosive volcanic eruptions in the Mexico City region. He is primarily investigating a lacustrine core preserving an extensive tephra and volcaniclastic record of past eruptions to determine the variation in volcanic output over timescales comparable to the lifetime of local volcanoes; thus providing an important context to understanding present-day hazards in Mexico City. His research interests include the use of physical volcanological, tephrostratigraphical and tephrochronological approaches to decipher volcanic archives and deposits.
Murray Hoggett (email@example.com)
PhD title: A Global Analysis of Igneous Sill Dimensions and their Effect on Sedimentary Basins and Petroleum System - Statistics and Modelling of Seismic Observations.
Supervisors: Dr Steve Jones, Dr Carl Stevenson
Funded by NERC through the CENTA DTP.
I am a geologist and geophysicist, working on a wide range of topics in the Earth Sciences. I research:
- The emplacement of sills and igneous intrusions
- Paleocene-Eocene boundary climate change
- How sedimentary basins fill
- The movement of faults and subsidence of the lithosphere
- The mechanics of slow spreading mid ocean ridges
I process and interpret seismic data and combine this with numerical and analytical modeling to study phenomenon at micro and macro scales. I also undertake field work, including digital mapping and the use of drones, and processing and interpretation of photogrametric and multispectral remote sensing data. My research has recently been published in Geology, Lithos and Climates of the Past.
Rohazaini Muhammad Jamil (RXM438@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Estimating urban direct recharge using a GIS approach (ArcSWAT).
Supervisor: Professor John Tellam
Funded by the Ministry of Education of Malaysia.
My current work focusses specifically on groundwater direct recharge using ArcSWAT model in urban environment. The aim of this study is to develop an ArcSWAT model of Birmingham urban aquifer and use the model to explore the impacts of recharge on applications such as sustainable urban drainage, urban planning, climate change and water futures.
Kate Newton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Supervisor: Dr James Bendle
Funded by NERC through the CENTA DTP
Kate’s research is in palaeoceanography, involving organic geochemistry and stable isotope techniques. These are applied to marine sediment samples from a variety of locations and time periods, including Holocene and Recent sediments from the Antarctic coastal zone (Adélie Land) which are being used to reconstruct glacial meltwater, primary productivity and ocean temperatures. She is also working to reconstruct pCO2 and sea-surface temperatures from various locations during the Miocene.
Chisomaga Opara-Nestor (email@example.com)
PhD title: Seismic reflection imaging and analysis of fault network connectivity.
Supervisors: Professor Tim Reston and Dr Stephen Jones.
Chisomaga’s research interest is in geophysics, specifically reflection seismology. It deals with using advanced seismic reflection imaging processes to image and analyse complex geological structures (highly faulted structures) which occur in places like the mid-ocean ridges and rifted margins. His research will be looking at processing issues, including imaging and migration challenges due to complex velocity structures resulting from anisotropic complex geometries and side-coming energies. Available data-sets include
2D lines from the Brazilian margin, a 3D seismic volume from the Galicia rifted margin and newly collected data from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge spreading centre.
Ulrike Baranowski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PhD title: Early and middle Eocene palaeoenvironmental and tectonic reconstructions from the Rockall Trough
Supervisors: Dr Tom Dunkley Jones, Dr Kirsty Edgar and Dr James Bendle (University of Birmingham)
Ulrike’s research is focused on palaeoclimate and environmental reconstructions of extreme warmth during the Early Eocene Climate Optimum (EECO). Based on planktonic foraminifera and organic biomarker geochemistry she is generating new sea surface temperature proxy data from a site with exceptionally preserved calcareous microfossils from the Rockall Trough, NE Atlantic.
Juan Pablo Castañeda (JPC672@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Patterns and drivers of early Cretaceous benthic foraminifera in the UK
Supervisors: Dr Ian Boomer and Dr Kirsty Edgar (University of Birmingham), and Dr Haydon Bailey (Formerly of Network Stratigraphic)
Juan Pablo’s research focuses on the response of benthic Foraminifera to major global changes during the Early Cretaceous. He aims to investigate the role that changes in climate and marine ecosystems may have played in the diversification of this major group of microfossils.
Marcelo de Lira Mota (MAL546@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Palaeoclimate reconstruction of the last greenhouse-icehouse transition based on geochemical and micropalaeontological records from central Mississippi, US Gulf Coastal Plain
Supervisors: Dr Tom Dunkley Jones and Dr James Bendle (University of Birmingham), Dr Guy Harrington (Petrostrat)
Marcelo’s research aims to document sea level and ecological perturbations associated with global cooling at the Eocene-Oligocene transition. This research is based on exceptionally preserved palynomorphs preserved in the late Eocene Yazoo Clay succession of Jackson Mississippi, and bulk sediment geochemistry.
Michael McKnight (MJM797@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: New Paleogene bio- and chemo-stratigraphies from key exploration areas in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean
Supervisors: Dr Kirsty Edgar andDr Tom Dunkley Jones (University of Birmingham), Dr Carina Hoorn (UWE)
Mike’s research focuses on reconstructing biostratigraphic and palaeoclimatic history for the equatorial Atlantic region across the Eocene-Oligocene transitionutilizing well preserved calcareous microfossils from the Foz Do Amazonas basin in the Amazon Fan and Mossy Grove, Mississippi coast. This work will be integrated with global records of past environment and fill a key data gap in existing palaeoclimate models.
Dana Noory Ridha (DXR461@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Miocene deep-sea benthic foraminifera from ODP Sites 752, 1139 and 1168 (Southern Indian Ocean)
Supervisors: Dr Ian Boomer andDr Kirsty Edgar (University of Birmingham)
Dana’s research focuses on Neogene deep-sea palaeoenvironments and palaeoceanography of the Indian Ocean. He uses benthic microfossil assemblages (foraminifera and ostracods) to trace deep-water circulation changes and ventilation history associated with long-term cooling. He is also interested in the taxonomy of benthic foraminifera.
Emma Hanson (email@example.com)
PhD title: Automated Image Analysis for Rapid Biostratigraphic Data Collection
Supervisors: Dr Tom Dunkley Jones, Dr Stephan Lautenschlager, Prof. Ales Leonardis (University of Birmingham) and Dr Manuel Viera (Shell)
Emma’s research aims to set up an automated image analysis system for rapid biostratigraphic data collection (focussing on calcareous nannofossils), initially using sediments spanning the past 10 million years, recovered from the Browse Basin on the NW Australian shelf. She will also use novel methods to gain a greater insight into the palaeoclimate of the area, using geochemical techniques and assemblage data.
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Amy Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PhD title: Macroevolution and Biogeography of Eocene-Oligocene Coccolithophores
Supervisors: Dr Tom Dunkley Jones and Prof. Richard Butler (University of Birmingham), and Dr Liam Gallagher (Network Stratigraphic)
Amy’s research focuses on the identifying potential climate and environmental drivers of macroevolutionary change in tropical coccolithophore communities (calcareous phytoplankton). In particular, Amy is studying the two major phases of global cooling and ice sheet expansion of the Cenozoic: the Eocene-Oligocene transition (Java) and the late Neogene transition into bipolar glaciation (IODP Expedition 363 Site U1482 and U1483, NW Australian Shelf).
Nicola Kirby (email@example.com)
PhD title: Climate or tectonics as the dominant driver of global climate and ocean circulation patterns in ancient high-CO2 worlds?
Supervisors: Dr Kirsty Edgar andDr Tom Dunkley Jones (University of Birmingham)
Nicola’s doctoral research involves reconstructing climate and ocean circulation across key greenhouse intervals in the past, e.g. the early Paleogene and the Cretaceous, when CO2levels were higher than today. Her focus is on material recovered during IODP Expedition 369, in the Indian Ocean off the southwest coast of Australia. She uses these records to assess the relative influences of ocean circulation and tectonic change, related to the opening of the Tasman Passage, on global climate. In particular, to assess what drove global cooling following peak warmth in these greenhouse intervals. Her methods include foraminiferal micropaleontology, and sediment and foraminiferal geochemistry to reconstruct past climate and ocean circulation.
Charlotte Bird (CMB358@student.bham.ac.uk)
PhD title: Brain evolution in pre-mammalian cynodonts and the role of intraspecific variation
Supervisors: Dr Stephan Lautenschlager andProf. Richard Butler (University of Birmingham), Professor Paul Barrett (Natural History Museum, London) and Dr Martin Reuklin (Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, Leiden)
Through virtual palaeontology, Charlotte aims to digitally reconstruct soft tissues lost to the fossil record to observe the evolutionary changes in endocranial anatomy within non-mammalian cynodonts from their late Permian origins to modern relatives (such as the opossum). Specifically, she generates 3D models of the brain, inner ear and neurovascular structures facilitating quantitative analyses of the roles intraspecific variation, sexual dimorphism and developmental stage play in the evolution of endocranial structures.
Importantly, the relatively sparse fossil record for cynodonts means they are understudied, hence this project provides new contextualisation of the subsequent impacts of palaeoneurobiological changes upon species’ intelligence and sensory capabilities. Furthermore, the project assesses the bias in digital reconstruction techniques created by software and the user, permitting understanding of the impacts upon inferences made, a topic of multidisciplinary importance.
Ffion Ma (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PhD title: Functional morphology of oviraptorosaurs
Supervisors: Dr Stephan Lautenschlager and Professor Richard Butler (University of Birmingham); Dr Michael Pittman (University of Hong Kong)
Ffion is originally from Hong Kong. She completed her MSc at the University of Edinburgh, using geometric morphometrics to study skull form in oviraptorosaurian dinosaurs. For her PhD, she is further exploring oviraptorosaur functional morphology using 3D modelling techniques.
Luke Meade (email@example.com)
PhD title: Functional morphology of Oviraptorosauria and the evolution of dietary diversity in theropods
Supervisors: Dr Stephan Lautenschlager and Professor Richard Butler (University of Birmingham); Dr Michael Pittman (University of Hong Kong)
Luke is undertaking a comprehensive biomechanical study on the skulls of oviraptorosaurs, a group of feathered theropod dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of North America and Asia. These animals are characterised by robust, stubby, often toothless beaks which leave the feeding behaviour and ecosystem position of Oviraptorosauria enigmatic due to a lack of other evidence. He will use 3D data to reconstruct and visualise the skulls and musculature of key taxa (e.g. Incisivosaurus, Citipati, Khaan, Gigantoraptor and Anzu) and conduct biomechanical analyses including finite element modelling to test how their skulls may have functioned. The analyses may reveal patterns of change in the form and function of the skull and lower jaw through the group Oviraptorosauria and whether different skull modifications can be linked as adaptations to specific diets (durophagy, insectivory, herbivory). Ultimately, this may reveal a picture of how complex dietary diversity patterns were in Oviraptorosauria and in other derived theropod groups throughout millions of years. Insight from this may be applied to interpret trends in feeding behaviour in other important extinct and extant taxa and ecosystems.
Lisa Schnetz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PhD title: The completeness of the early shark fossil record
Supervisors: Dr Ivan Sansom and Prof. Richard Butler(University of Birmingham)
Sharks have inhabited this planet for over 400 million years and have maintained their status as top predators up until today. While we know a substantial amount about their history and diversification patterns from later geological periods, little is known about both their early history and diversity. There is a 50-million-year gap between the earliest findings of scales and the first shark teeth, where we have no indication of shark-like properties in the fossil record. Fossils of sharks are rarely preserved beyond the teeth and jaw sections, thus making it more difficult to investigate them. This project will aim to assess and investigate the quality of the fossil record of early sharks using new approaches to estimate the fossil record completeness of early sharks in order to address a series of key questions, including: (1) How complete is the early shark fossil record in comparison with other groups? (2) Is completeness impacted by ecological categories, habitat preferences, and/or body sizes? (3) Are changes in completeness correlated with major changes and shifts in global marine diversity, including evolutionary radiations and mass extinctions? (4) How do changes in completeness correlate with broader estimates of fossil record sampling through time and space?
Struan Henderson (email@example.com)
PhD title: Macroevolutionary trends in Palaeozoic osteichthyans
Supervisors: Dr Sam Giles and Prof. Richard Butler (University of Birmingham)
Struan Henderson completed his BSci and MScR degrees at the University of Edinburgh. His PhD research focuses on macroevolutionary trends in Palaeozoic osteichthyan fish, with particular focus on the diversity and distribution of ray-finned fish. He also employs high-resolution CT-scans of fossil fish to determine their internal anatomy and construct 3D models.