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Research Interests

The research interests in the Sperling Lab are Earth history and the evolution of life, and the interactions between the biosphere and the geosphere. As such this research can generally be considered paleontology, insofar as paleontology encompasses all aspects of the history of life.

Consequently, we define our research agenda by the questions we are interested in, rather than the tools used. This research incorporates multiple lines of evidence, and multiple tools, to investigate questions in the history of life. These lines of evidence include fossil data, molecular phylogenetics, sedimentary geochemistry, and ecological and physiological data from modern organisms. Ultimately, the goal is to link environmental change with organismal and ecological response through the lens of physiology. This work across multiple time scales, from ancient to modern global change. 

Information on the Sedimentary Geochemistry and Paleoenvironments Project (SGP) can be found here:



Historical Geobiology graduate students Tom Boag and Rich Stockey, along with Payne group member Will Gearty (all co-first authors) have published a paper in Current Biology looking at the relationship between global temperatures and the latitudinal diversity gradient. A news article on the paper can be found here. In the modern ocean, the highest diversity is found in the tropics.

First year doctoral student Andy Marquez has received the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation--congratulations Andy!!!

The first paper from the Sedimentary Geochemistry and Paleoenvironments Project (SGP) has been published early online at Geochemical Perspectives Letters. The paper, which is available here, was led by Alex Lipp and Oliver Shorttle, and investigated changing records of provenance and weathering through geologic time.