B.A., Clark University; M.A., George Washington University; Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Science Center 266D
Associate Professor of Geosciences
Researches mechanisms and time scales of plutonic construction; connections between magma chambers, plutons, and volcanic centers in space and time; tectonic assembly of North America; and combining trace element compositon and U-Pb dates of detrital zircon crystals to more closely fingerprint the provenance of clastic sedimentary rocks.
In the broadest sense, I am interested in the processes that shaped the evolution and architecture of continents. I extract evidence for these processes from rocks through field observations and laboratory analyses, particularly U-Pb geochronology (a method for measuring the age of minerals). With age information I focus on the timescale over and/or rate at which crustal processes operated in the past. During my career, I have investigated magmatism associated with the breakup of continents about 700 million years ago (northern Virginia), volcanism associated with the formation of the Atlantic Ocean basin about 220 million years ago (New Jersey), deformation, metamorphism and magmatism associated with the growth of North America between 1,800 and 1,600 million years ago (Grand Canyon, Arizona) and, most recently, magmatic processes that operate in the plumbing systems beneath ancient volcanoes during the collision of tectonic plates (Maine and California). More recently, my students and I have explored strategies for improving the fidelity of provenance studies that use U-Pb dates of detrital zircon grains. Specifically, we are exploring strategies that employ multiple lines of evidence from individual zircon grains of a given age – including textural, trace element, and isotopic data – to fingerprint source regions on ancient continents.
I teach traditional geological topics in nontraditional ways. For most courses, I employ a ‘studio-style’ format in which I can focus on student learning (rather than teaching content) via activities intentionally designed to help students apply first principles to discover (and 'own') important concepts. This approach helps students not only learn key concepts, but they also develop and practice fundamental learning, problem-solving and communication skills. My studio-style courses include mineralogy/petrology/geochemistry (Earth Materials), volcanology (Volcanoes and Volcanism) and structural geology (Tectonics and Structural Geology). To supplement student learning in the classroom, I offer students opportunities to learn geology on field trips in New England and further afield (California, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Idaho). I also offer a winter session course that provides students with the opportunity to learn and practice methods of field geology in locations such as the western United States (2012, 2015, 2017), Hawaii (2012), and New Zealand (2010).
My typical pastimes involve my family and include hiking, exploring the coast of Maine from a sea kayak, cooking, traveling, photographing our travels, taking cooking classes while traveling, and watching soccer. I follow European and International soccer with great interest, and I am a life-long fan of the New York Yankees.