Photo credit: Becky Strauss
Karla examining a shell in the Domincan Republic.
- Bachelor of Arts, Beloit College, 1983
- Master of Science, University Rochester, 1987
- Doctor of Philosophy, University Rochester, 1993
My main research focus has been on the processes of preservation (taphonomy) particularly of molluscs and echinoderms. I have been a member of a larger research group studying modern processes such as dissolution, epibiont overgrowth, and mechanical destruction of shells in a wide variety of environments from the shallow shelf, to the deep continental slope in both the Gulf of Mexico and in the Bahamas. Our research group is called the Shelf and Slope Experimental Taphonomy Initiative (SSETI). The goal of this research is to understand the timing of fossilization processes on the continental shelf. An important way to do this is to measure destructive processes in modern settings and extrapolate to ancient fossil assemblages. Our experiments were placed on the bottom by submersible in 1993 and have been collected at regular intervals since then. Our last collection was in 2006 after 13 years of exposure on the sea floor.
As an extension of this research, I have developed an interest in the paleoecologic implications for encrusting organisms and bacteria and fungi that bore into shells. They may prove to be excellent indicators of paleobathymetry, nutrient levels, and other physical and chemical conditions acting on any particular organism during its life and after it dies and becomes fossilized.
Other research interests include hurricane effects on tropical coastlines including impacts on coral reefs, beaches, and the overall sediment budget in reef systems. I am also working on the ecology and paleoecology of hydrocarbon seeps and brine seeps. This interest also stems from my work with the SSETI project where some of our experiments are running near seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, I have done some comparative work on Cretaceous hydrocarbon seeps of the Pierre Shale exposed in Colorado.