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Steph is interested in the effects of diet and trophic position on extinction selectivity. She is designing projects to investigate how diet (trophic level, dietary niche breadth) of marine gastropods influenced survival during the end-Cretaceous extinction.


I will be looking for a new PhD student to begin in September 2019. Applications will be due in early January, so please contact me (at if you are considering applying. I work closely with students to design projects that excite them, rather than assigning topics, so I look forward to discussing research ideas with you! I also encourage students to pursue other interests in addition to research, including pedagogy and education, mentoring, projects to support diversity and inclusion, or outreach and science communication. For more details about my mentoring goals and about what I look for in an application, read here.

I'm looking for motivated and passionate students who are interested in developing innovative methods of assessing physiological and ecological traits in extinct taxa and testing their importance during ancient global change events. My admission decisions are strongly influenced by evidence for creativity, resilience, scientific curiosity, and other important characteristics, for example from letters of recommendation, prior research experience, and applicants' personal statements. I strongly support students from diverse backgrounds and I don't consider the prestige of your undergraduate institution when I am recruiting students. I prefer students with broad coursework experience and some prior research, but I also take into account the opportunities available and other commitments (work, family) in those assessments. Our department requires GRE scores (for now; I'm working to change this) but I don't place any weight on them for my own admission decisions.


Graduate Researchers

Dan Killam (PhD 2018; bivalve sclerochronology and the physiology of growth, calcification, and photosymbiosis)

Marko Manojlovic (MS 2017; substrate changes and the decline of Mesozoic brachiopods)

Priscilla Vázquez (MS 2014; fish and shark extinctions during the Permian and Triassic)

Jered Karr (MS 2013; long-term trends in the taphonomy of fossil insects)

Kira Badyrka (MS 2012; paleoecology of brachiopod communities during the late Paleozoic ice age in Bolivia)

Undergraduate Researchers

Kristina Okamoto (2014-2018; competitive release of nautilid morphology following the Cretaceous extinction)

Ryan Thomas (2017-2018; isotopic evidence for habitat differences in Red Sea giant clams)

Andrew Kruger (2015-2016; pyrite framboids during the Toarcian anoxic event in Spain)

Matt Testo (2015-2016;  sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy of the Yokut Formation at New Idria)

Afghana Khan (2012-2013; sclerochronology of the Permian bivalve Eurydesma)

Anthony Bai (2010-2011; trilobite morphometrics during the Late Devonian mass extinction)

Kathryn Kynett (2009-2010; microfacies and extinction during the end-Permian in South China)

Nathan Unangst (2009-2010; Permian brachiopods from Bolivia)