Our Group

Leanne Elder, PhD

Researcher 2017-Present

Postdoctoral Associate 2016-Present

Laboratory Manager 2013-2015

I currently study how climate change, both past and present, impacts the biology and ecology of foraminifera. I developed methods for semi-3D digitization of microfossils used in the Hull lab’s brute-force community morphometrics technique (AutoMorph). We are quantifying the contributions of macroevolutionary and ecological processes in the context of environmental change to determine the drivers of morphological change. I am also interested in how body size evolution is influenced by temperature and oxygenation and how those factors impact organismal metabolic rates.

Donald Penman, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate 2017-Present

Flint Postdoctoral Fellow 2014-2016

My research focuses on the interplay between Earth’s climate and the fluxes of carbon from the lithosphere into the atmosphere, ocean, and finally into sediments. As the oceans represent the largest surficial reservoir of carbon, characterizing the marine carbon cycle is crucial to understanding the long-term regulation of atmospheric pCO2 and climate. 

I am trained in a suite of inorganic proxies for carbonate chemistry and climatic parameters preserved in geological archives, particularly deep-sea sediment cores from the Cenozoic.

Charlotte O’Brien, PhD

YIBS Donnelly Postdoctoral Fellow, Former Pagani Group, 2015-Present

My work involves applying geochemical proxy techniques in order to evaluate paleotemperatures, paleoenvironments, and paleoceanographic conditions for warmer climates in the past. My research at Yale explores how global sea surface temperatures responded during the late Oligocene (ca. 30-23 million years ago), a time of declining atmospheric CO2.

Robin Canavan

PhD Student, Former Pagani Group, Former Affek Group             2012-Present

My research focuses on the late Cretaceous Greenhouse climate. I use carbonate clumped isotope geochemistry on a variety of fossil material including mollusks, vertebrates, and planktonic foraminifera to understand the evolution of meridional temperature gradients and sea surface temperatures from the peak greenhouse (~100 million years ago) to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction (~65 million years ago).

James Super

PhD Student, Former Pagani Group                   2012-Present

My research focuses on the use of organic proxies and light stable isotopes to study past climates. I principally focus on climates during warm intervals of the past, with a particular focus on the Miocene, using a variety of organic and inorganic proxies for parameters including temperature, precipitation, pH, and CO2.

Janet Burke

PhD Student            2014-Present

My areas of interest include paleoecology, oceanography and macroevolution. My goal is to study the effects of climate change events on evolutionary trajectories and community structure and function throughout time. I also hope to gain knowledge of the biology and ecology of planktonic foraminifera as well as the methods for analyzing foraminiferal assemblages from the past and present.

Sophie Westacott

PhD Student            2016-Present

I’m interested in mass extinctions, their recovery intervals, and the interplay between the biosphere and the geosphere surrounding those events. I’m also interested in fossil preservation and how it affects our understanding of the fossil record.

Daniel Gaskell

PhD Student            2016-Present

I am broadly interested in how marine ecosystems respond and adapt to environmental pressures, with a view towards understanding how to best manage modern-day marine ecosystems and natural resources. In particular, I am interested in developing and using high-throughput techniques to analyze foraminiferal assemblages and geochemical data on a global scale. My past work has centered around using fossilized teeth to investigate how fish populations respond to abrupt climate change.

Jack Shaw


I am broadly interested in understanding evolutionary patterns in the fossil record and their links with extinction events. In particular, I am fascinated by sexual selection, and when, how, and why it evolved.  I am also interested in the effects of hyperthermal activity on planktonic foraminifera, and how such events affect the isotopic composition of foraminiferal tests.

Independent study/ Thesis students:

Maddie Shankle 2013-present Volcanic glass in marine sediments

Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Christiana Hart 2016-present

Former Postdoctoral Researchers & Graduate Students:

Michael Henehan 2014-2017 current info & whereabouts linked here
Shuang Zhang 2015-2017 current info & whereabouts linked here
Allison Hsiang 2014-2016 current info & whereabouts linked here
Simon D’haenens 2014-2016 current info & whereabouts linked here
David Evans 2015-2016 current info & whereabouts linked here
Luke Strotz 2016 current info & whereabouts linked here

Former Interns & Independent Study Students:

Mahima Kumera (Summer Independent Research 2017: MECO temperature evolution),  Jack Shaw (Independent Research 2016-2017: PETM stable isotopes), Romy Carpenter (Research 2016: Long Island Sound Invert. Physiology), Casey Culligan (Independent Research [high schooler] 2015-2016: Planktonic foraminiferal shape evolution),  Chris Bowman (Research & Thesis Student 2015-2016: Isotopic sensitivity of Eocene foraminifera),  Paige Breen (Research & Thesis Student 2014-2016: Middle Eocene isotopic community structure),  Sara Kahanamoku-Snelling (STARS II Fellow & Thesis Student 2014-2016: Macroecology of foraminifera and limpets),  Rain Tsong (Research & Thesis Student 2014-2016: Middle Eocene paleoceanography & Li Isotopes), Megan Mikenas (Summer Intern & Independent Study 2014-2015: Ecological response to the K-Pg),  Volkan Özen (Summer Intern 2014: Boron isotopes across the K-Pg),  Yusu Liu (Independent Study 2013-2014: Bioinformatics of shape),  Liana Epstein (Thesis Student 2013-2014: Geochemistry of the K-Pg),  Samantha Lichtin (Independent Study 2013-2014: High throughput shape),  Frances (Yuchen) Lui (Independent Study 2013-2014: Atlantic foraminifera)


Former Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Francine Rois-Fetchkno (2016-2017), Than Minh Tran (2014-2017), Molly Mullen (2013-2016), Emma Tipton (2013-2016), Corrin Laposki (2014-2016), Rachelle Graham (2014-2016), Rebecca Dendy (2013-2015), Joanne Zhenheng Li (2013-2015), Saad Syed (2014-2016), Sergio Lopez-Valdez (2015), Katherine Bradley (2014), ​Kevin Ennis (2014), Jason Entgelmeier (2014)Ivy Nyayieka (2014), Susan Rundell (2014), Adam Sokol (2014), Nicholas Shintaro Ten (2014), Sophia Kecskes (2013-2014), Yumi Koga (2013-2014), Emma Speer (2013-2014), Juan Aragon (2013), Sofia Carrera (2013), Shalila de Bourmont (2013), Mina Himwich (2013), XinXin Xu (2013), Sarah Gilbert (2012-2013)


Former Evolutions Students & Mentors:

Evolutions 2017: Carina Andrea, Kyndall Hailey

Evolutions 2016: Gabriela Villanueva, Aaliyah Shabazz

Evolutions 2015: Ahmad Keita, Janae McMillan, Juhi Nath, Diego Ospina

Evolutions 2014: Zariah Altman, George Baldwin, Meeshali Patel, Sywia Zambrycka

Evolutions 2013: Jenna LaFontaine, Kurt LoPresto, Amanda Plaza

Evolutions Undergraduate Mentors: Matt Ormrod (2013-2014), Jennifer Messervy (2015), Georgienna Driver (2016)