Coral paleoclimate  |  Climate Science  |  GIS  |  Data Visualization 


Thanks for checking out my website! I am a Geosciences PhD candidate at the University of Arizona, working with Dr. Diane Thompson in the Tropical Climate and Coral Reefs Lab. For my research, I analyze the geochemistry of coral skeletons from the equatorial Pacific to piece together past climate variability. I am interested in working with climate data, and have recently started to develop expertise in geographic information systems (GIS). I am passionate about finding ways to visualize data, geospatial or otherwise, in the most understandable, aesthetically-pleasing, and intuitive ways. 

Graduate work:

I am developing a new coral-based proxy for trade-wind behavior, the manganese-to-calcium ratio (Mn/Ca) of the skeleton. First, I identify the mechanism behind how this coral proxy works (i.e., how wind patterns translate to changes in coral Mn/Ca), which constitutes Chapter 1 of my dissertation. Second, I investigate how the crystal structure of coral aragonite may influence the trace elements it incorporates as a function of changes in the coral's environment (Chapter 2), which was the topic of my fellowship in the Mineral Sciences Department of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where I worked with Dr. Gabriela Farfan.  I apply the coral Mn/Ca proxy to a suite of coral records from across the equatorial Pacific to develop a composite coral-based wind reconstruction (Chapter 3). Finally, I compare this reconstructed record to instrumental wind observations, modeled wind data, and reanalysis wind records to see how well these products are able to resolve westerly wind events in the past (Chapter 4). This project is extremely interdisciplinary, and has given me the opportunity to conduct field work and lab work, and analyze climate model products. 


Data visualization:

Throughout my PhD, my favorite moments have been those spent making site maps and figures for my manuscripts. I love the challenge of finding the best way to communicate data and a specific message/argument via a visualization. For this reason, in my 4th year, I decided to pursue a Professional GIS Technology Certificate at UA to learn how to use ArcGIS Pro to effectively visualize geospatial data. I have loved the coursework and class projects thus far, and you will find examples of my work in my GIS Portfolio. I hope to apply my passion for data visualization and GIS to climate change/sustainability-focused work after completing my PhD. 

Photograph taken by Bess Koffman.