Project Overview

A paleontological window into climate change impact on marine shells

Faculty Sponsor

Rebecca Metzler (


Physics and Astronomy


How will biomineralizing marine organisms (e.g., corals, mollusks, arthropods, and others) be affected by current and future climate change? One way to answer this question is to examine how these groups of animals have responded to increasing temperatures and decreasing pH in the past. For this project, we will use samples of marine mollusk shells collected in the Northern Gulf of Mexico to examine the long term impact of climate change on shell microstructure and morphology. The shells of marine mollusks can be preserved in seafloor sediment for millennia and dated using radiocarbon methods, which allows us to compare shells over time and among regions in response to changing climatic conditions in the coastal ocean. The project is a collaboration between Professor Rebecca Metzler (Physics) and Professor Paul Harnik (Geology). The student involved in the project will be involved in sample preparation, data collection (visual light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction, etc.), and data analysis.

Student Qualifications

Interest in interdisciplinary science

Number of Student Researchers

1 student

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2022 and close on 02/04/2022

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (