Faculty Research

Faculty Research

Professor Dan Brabander, Frost Professor Environmental Sciences is an urban environmental geochemist with research interests at the intersection of public health and earth materials (GeoHealth). Professor Brabander’s research team comprises undergraduates learning science by doing science, community scientists, and not-for-profit organizations. Projects have been featured in numerous media outlets including NPR, ABC news, the Boston Globe, and Time Magazine. His current research focus is environmental geochemistry, geohealth, and sustainable urban agriculture.

(*Wellesley student researcher)

Website: djb_lab || Lab Instagram || Google Scholar profile


Smith J. P., Brabander D. J., Panek, L. A., Besancon J. R. (2019) Enrichment of potentially toxic elements in the fine fraction of soils from Iraq and Kuwait. Journal of Soils and Sediments. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-019-02286-7


Howard M.*, Plotkin A.*, McClure A. R.*, Klepac-Ceraj V., Griffith A., Brabander D., Jones K. (2018) Comfrey mulch enriches soil, but does not improve an indicator crop within one season. International Journal of Plant and Soil  22: (2) 1-9. doi : 10.9734/IJPSS/2018/40403.

Monecke K., McCarthy F. G., Hubeny B., Ebel J. E., Brabander D. J., Kielb S., Howey E.*, Janigian G.*, Pentesco J. (2018) The 1755 Cape Ann earthquake recorded in lake sediments of eastern New England: An interdisciplinary paleoseismic approach. Seismological Research Letters. https://doi.org/10.1785/0220170220.

Sharp R. M.* and Brabander, D. J. (2017). Lead (Pb) bioaccessibility and mobility assessment of urban soils and composts: Fingerprinting sources and refining risks to support urban agriculture. GeoHealth, 1, 333–345. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GH000093.

Fitzstevens M. G.*, Sharp R. M.*, Brabander D. J. (2017) Biogeochemical characterization of municipal compost to support urban agriculture and limit childhood lead exposure from resuspended urban soils. Elem Sci Anth. 2017; 5:51. doi http://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.238.

Professor Dan Brabander, Frost Professor Environmental Sciences

Selfie of Professor Dan Brabander and his students



Katrin Monecke, Associate Professor is a sedimentologist and works in the field of natural hazard assessment. She is studying the geologic record of earthquakes and tsunamis and develops paleoseismic histories in at-risk regions. In her work she has concentrated on two different sedimentary environments: lakes and coastal marshlands. Here, she studies morphological features and sedimentary deposits for evidence of earthquake activity using spatial data, numerical modeling, and a variety of laboratory techniques for sediment analysis.

Webpage: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Katrin_Monecke

Monecke K., McCarthy F. G., Hubeny B., Ebel J. E., Brabander D. J., Kielb S., Howey E.*, Janigian G.*, Pentesco J. (2018) The 1755 Cape Ann earthquake recorded in lake sediments of eastern New England: An interdisciplinary paleoseismic approach. Seismological Research Letters. https://doi.org/10.1785/0220170220.

Monecke, K., Meilianda, E., Walstra, D.-J., Hill, E., McAdoo, B., Qiu, Q., Storms, J., Sri Masputri, A., Mayasari, C. D., Nasir, M., Riandi, I., Setiawan, A., Templeton, C.* (2017): Postseismic  Coastal Development in Aceh, Indonesia - Field Observations and Numerical Modeling. Marine Geology,  392, 94-104.

Monecke, K., Templeton, C.T.*, Finger, W., Houston, B.L., Stefan M Luthi, S. M., McAdoo, B.G., Meilianda, E.,  Storms, J. E. A., Walstra D.-J., Amna, R., Hood N., Karmanocky, F. J., Nurjanah; Rusydy, I., Sudrajat, S. U. (2015): Beach Ridge Patterns in West Aceh, Indonesia, and their Response to Large Earthquakes along the Northern Sunda Trench. Quaternary Science Reviews, Special Issue: Megathrust Earthquakes, 113, 159-170.

Strasser, M., Monecke, K., Schnellmann, M. &  Anselmetti,F. S., (2013): Lake sediments as natural seismographs: A compiled record of Late Quaternary earthquakes in Central Switzerland and its implication for Alpine deformation. Sedimentology, Special Issue: Alpine Sedimentology. 

Katrin Monecke, Associate Professor

Katrin Monecke, Associate Professor

Adrian E. Castro, Assistant Professor of Geosciences
I'm a metamorphic petrologist and geochemist interested in metamorphic phase equilibria, chemical kinetics, convergent tectonics, and subduction zone dynamics. Essentially, I'm interested in how mountains are formed and how the materials that make up the crust are recycled back into the Earth.
Selected Publications: 
Kohn, M. J., Castro, A. E., Kerswell, B. C., Ranero, C. R., & Spear, F. S. (2018). Shear heating reconciles thermal models with the metamorphic rock record of subduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences115(46), 11706-11711.
Castro, A. E., & Spear, F. S. (2017). Reaction overstepping and re-evaluation of peak P‒T conditions of the blueschist unit Sifnos, Greece: implications for the Cyclades subduction zone. International Geology Review59(5-6), 548-562.


Emeritus Faculty

Margaret D. Thompson, Professor Emerita and MIT Research Affiliate  remains active on projects integrating data from stratigraphy, structural geology, U-Pb geochronology and paleomagnetic study to refine tectonic interpretations of southeastern New England, including the drift history of the Ediacaran Avalonian terrane from its original position along the Gondwanan margin and the timing of its arrival in ancestral North America. Her focus in the near future will be on Boston-area subsurface geology as the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority prepares to open bidding for a new water supply tunnel transecting quadrangles she has mapped.  Related student projects and recent publications can be accessed via her faculty profile.

  Margaret D. Thompson on site Margaret D. Thompson, Professor Emerita and MIT Research Affiliate


David P. Hawkins, Associate Professor Emeritus is a geologist who uses the principles and tools of field geology, petrology, geochemistry, structural geology and U-Pb geochronology to extract tracer and temporal information about geologic processes and events from the mineral zircon. His ongoing research projects focus on: (1) fingerprinting the provenance of deltaic sandstones deposited on the supercontinent Pangea using multiple data streams from both detrital zircon grains and zircon grains from possible source rocks; and (2) constraining the timescale of subvolcanic, bimodal magmatism that produced two Silurian granite-gabbro intrusions on the coast of Maine, including the Cadillac Mountain intrusion exposed in and around Acadia National Park.

 David P. Hawkins on siteDavid P. Hawkins, Associate Professor Emeritus 


James R. Besancon, Associate Professor Emeritus continues projects relating to road salt and other deicers and their path through the critical zone and into public water supplies, which includes surface flow and surficial aquifers.  Current areas under study include Bogle Brook and the Lake Waban drainage basin, and the aquifers supplying Norwell, Massachusetts. Working in collaboration with Professor Rudolph Hon at Boston College and his students, we do continuous monitoring with emplaced sensors in several locations and extensive sampling and chemical analysis by ion chromatography. We also encourage teachers of elementary to high school students to participate in projects neighboring their campuses.  

James R. Besancon, Associate Professor EmeritusJames R. Besancon, Associate Professor Emeritus