University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut


Michael T. Hren

Ph.D. Stanford, Assistant Professor
Office: Beach Hall 232

Research Interests: Stable isotopic analysis of organic and inorganic materials.Present research projects include work on long-term changes in atmospheric CO2, isotopic tracing of organic molecular biomarkers, isotopic fractionation during biosynthesis of cell components and degradation in sediments, and identification and stable isotopic analysis of biomarkers in ancient sediments.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Yvette Eley

Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, University of East Anglia
Office: Beach Hall 227

Research Interests: The use of biomarkers to study modern and ancient ecosystems. Geo-locating biological materials using stable isotopes, radiogenic isotopes and trace elements.The application of geochemical methods to ecological, archaeological and forensic investigations.

Graduate Students

Abby Oakes

Office: Chemistry R-416

Research Interests: Using stable isotope forensics to identify isotopic variations in organic molecular biomarkers, including n-alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), for use in tracing environmental changes over time and space

Chaoran Wang

Office: Chemistry R-416

Research Interests: My research is focused on understanding how the process of burial diagenesis effects the distribution of organic molecular compounds and their carbon and hydrogen isotope composition. This information is critical to interpreting organic molecular records in sedimentary archives and has direct relationships to studies of petroleum geochemistry. Primary research tools involve compound-specific stable isotopes, GC-MS, LC-MS, and NMR.

Alex Brittingham

Anthropology, PhD candidate
Office: Beach Hall 452
Researchgate Academia

Research Interests: I am interested in how climate effected human behavior in the past.  Currently, I am investigating the role climate variability played in the transition between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, the time period during which Neanderthals went extinct and modern humans expanded out of Africa to permanently inhabit other regions of Eurasia for the first time.

Katherine Truong


Research Interests: Carbon and hydrogen isotopes of higher plants provide a novel record of biologic and environmental changes over geological time.  However, the plant-specific differences in carbon and hydrogen isotope discrimination provides a challenge to interpreting ancient sedimentary records. My research is focused on understanding the modern controls of isotope discrimination in terrestrial plants in widely varying ecosystem types. This data is critical to application of organic molecular proxies for interpreting information preserved in these markers.

Gregory Harris


Research Interests: The late Paleozoic Ice Age represents a period of widespread glacial/interglacial transitions in the Late Carboniferous, during which time massive quantities of organic biomass were preserved in the sedimentary record.  This time period provides an opportunity for evaluating how global biogeochemical systems feedback to the climate system. My research is focused on understanding how hydrologic, ecosystem, and biologic systems respond to changing CO2 during glacial/interglacial cycles. This work is focused on using organic molecular biomarkers to evaluate these changes in the Illinois Basin and New Mexico.

Queenie Chang

Geoscience, PhD candidate
Office: Beach Hall 

Jon Smolen

Chemistry, PhD candidate
Office: Chem

Affiliated Students

Dave Auerbach (Yale)

Katharine Loughney (University of Michigan)

Tim Gallagher (University of Michigan)

John Richey (UC Davis)

Galen Griggs (UC Davis)

Undergraduate Students

Silas Jackson

Dyaln Robbins

Jeffery Phu

Mackenzie Poskus

Danielle Beaupre

Anna Terrill

Former Students

Jaci White

M.S. (Geoscience) 2015

Thesis Title: Climatic and Hydrological Change in Montana during the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum

Kellyn Patros

B.S. with Honors (Chemistry) 2014

Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the Indiana University

Thesis: "Climate and precipitation patterns in NE Spain during the past 65 Million years: A compound-specific stable isotope record"

Awarded Roland Ward Thesis Award for outstanding senior thesis in Chemistry