Research Statement

The central idea of our work is that each location on the earth has a history. That history controls what plants and animals live at that location. We use pollen and diatom microfossils from sediment accumulating in lakes and wetlands to reconstruct this history.  This research into the history of lakes is called “paleolimnology”.  Recently, advances in analytical techniques have allowed paleolimnologists to ask questions about sources of contamination to lakes.  The sedimentary record can be used to reconstruct long-term changes in pollution levels caused by human activities. 

Our lab is studying lead (Pb) pollution in a local lake, Horseshoe Lake.  The site has received Pb from anthropogenic sources since 1850 – soon after the development of the Pb mines in SW Missouri by French colonial miners.  We have used the isotopic composition of the Pb to determine sources to the lake sediment. We have now begun to trace the Pb contamination through the biota of the lake. 

Description: HorseshoeMadison 008

Figure: Horseshoe Lake