Welcome!  I am an organic and isotope geochemist who studies the history of our Earth through the rocks and sediments that accumulate on land, in lakes and at the bottom of the ocean.  I have recenlty moved in 2019 to the Ocean Sciences Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

My research centers around the history of Earth’s climate, flora, and fauna that is locked inside ocean, lake and terrestrial sediments.  As human activity increasingly affects our planet and the Anthropocene is recognizable as a stratigraphic epoch, Earth’s geologic history has never been more relevant.  Why has climate changed in the past?  How sensitive is the earth system to perturbation? What are the tipping points in the Earth system?  These are the fundamental questions my research seeks to answer through studies of the elemental, molecular and isotopic composition of sediment archives.  I am particularly focused on the geologic history of the water cycle and the application of novel isotopic approaches to understanding this history.  Much of this research uses the organic components of sediments and their molecular and isotopic character.

I am also interested in the application of organic geochemistry to solve novel problems in geology and the development of new instrumentation for isotopic analyses.

Check out detailed descriptions of these and other projects.


Curriculum Vitae

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Paleoceanography, Paleoclimatology, Organic Geochemistry, Isotope Geochemistry

EDUCATION

  • 2005 Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Geosciences.
  • 1999 M.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Geosciences.
  • 1995 B.A., Hampshire College (Massachusetts), Geology and Environmental Science.


ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS

  • 2019–present Associate Professor, Department of Ocean  Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • 2017–2019 Lamont Associate Research Professor (Senior Staff), Division of Biology and Paleo Environment, LDEO of Columbia University
  • 2014–2017 Lamont Associate Research Professor, Division of Biology and Paleo Environment, LDEO of Columbia University
  • 2010–2014 Lamont Assistant Research Professor, Division of Biology and Paleo Environment, LDEO of Columbia University
  • 2010–2013 Research Associate, Department of Earth & Planetary Science, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • 2009–2010 Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Earth & Planetary Science, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • 2005–2008 Postdoctoral Fellow, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) , Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2002–2005 Research Associate, Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 1996–2002 Graduate Student Research Assistant, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Contact Information:

University of California, Santa Cruz
Department of Ocean Sciences
Earth and Marine Science Building A441 (Office)
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
phone: (831) 459-5864 (office)
polissar-at-ucsc.edu

ORCID ID orcid.org/0000-0001-5483-1625


Sampling the Champlain Thrust fault for thermal maturity measurements.