Global paleo-science community: an interview with Pal(a)eoPERCS

Rehemat Bhatia (RB): hello I’m Rehemath. I am a geochemist and micropaleontologist by education. I completed my BA at Royal Holloway (University of London) (UK) and my PhD at University College London (UK). My PhD and subsequent postdoctoral research focused on using the trace element and isotope geochemistry of Cenozoic planktonic foraminifera to understand more about their paleoecologies and responses to dramatic intervals of climate change. After completing my postdoctoral course at the University of Bristol (UK), I changed career direction and now work outside of academia, but still participate in several initiatives related to academia in my spare time – such as Pal(a)eoPERCS ! On the Pal(a)eoPERCS committee, I currently lead the collection of our funding bids and the search for avenues of financial support. I am also on the Associate Board of Directors of the Women’s Earth Science Network as their co-chair of member events and regularly participate in science outreach initiatives. I love paleo-science and really can’t imagine my life without it!

Jana Burke (JB): Hi, I’m Yana. I am a micropaleontologist and paleoceanographer working primarily with planktonic foraminifera based at Michigan State University. I am particularly interested in the ways in which individual organisms, species and communities change in response to changes in their environment, which is probably a good thing given the transient nature of ECR ‚Äč‚Äčlife. I first fell in love with the pal(a)eo-sciences as an undergraduate at Smith College and recently completed my PhD at Yale University. I’m passionate about contributing to a strong, supportive, inclusive community of pal(a)eo-ECRs, and I’m also a fan of wisdom, crafts, and screaming karaoke.

Pedro Godoy (PG): Hi, I’m Pedro, a vertebrate paleontologist and evolutionary biologist interested in the systematics and macroevolution of tetrapods. I completed my BA and MA in my native Brazil. During my PhD at the University of Birmingham (UK), my research focused on macroevolutionary patterns during the evolutionary history of Crocodylomorpha. Then I did two postdocs, one in the US and one in Brazil. On the Pal(a)eoPERCS Committee, I am responsible for video editing and uploading the recorded talks to our YouTube channel. In addition, I am also the current Phylogenetics Editor of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Chrissy Hall (CH): Hi, I’m Chrissy. I am an invertebrate paleontologist interested in how life has responded to changing environments in the past. I completed my BA at the College of William and Mary and my MA and PhD at the University of California, Riverside. My MSc research was on Ediacaran fossils with threefold symmetry, but my focus has since shifted to ostracods (small bivalve crustaceans) from various periods of climate change during the Cenozoic. I am working on these questions as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Connecticut and the University of Haifa, and I am starting a visiting assistantship at Lafayette College in the fall. On the Pal(a)eoPERCS committee, I am responsible for scheduling the speakers we decide to invite and keeping our schedule up to date.

Natasha Sekon (NS): hi I’m Natasha, I’m a speleologist and karst hydrologist. I use geochemical proxies for stalagmites (calcite deposits in caves) to discern past climate change. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine. My PhD at the University of Texas, Austin, and current postdoctoral research at Brown University focus on the association of climate extremes such as Holocene floods in the United States and the Philippines. I have the great pleasure and feel very fortunate to be able to explore caves in remote parts of the world. During these field campaigns, we placed instruments in caves to monitor the geochemical variability of cave drip waters, which helps inform our interpretations of paleoclimate. On the Pal(a)eoPERCS committee, I am responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Pal(a)eoPERCS website.

Elizabeth Siebert (Spain): Hi, I’m Elizabeth. I am a micropaleontologist and oceanographer interested in how marine ecosystems respond to global change. I specialize in ichthyolites, microfossils of fish teeth and shark scales preserved primarily in deep-sea sediments, and use these small fossils to reconstruct the evolution of fish and sharks and their roles in marine ecosystems over long periods of time. My work is inherently interdisciplinary, using geological tools to address fundamental questions in biology and oceanography. I received my BS in Biology from UC San Diego and my MS and PhD in Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. My first postdoctoral position was as a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows at Harvard University, and I am currently a Hutchinson Postdoctoral Fellow through the Yale Institute for Biosphere Studies at Yale University. On the Pal(a)eoPERCS Committee, I manage the email list and send out workshop announcements twice a week. I also serve as the “go-getter,” developing the agenda for leadership team meetings and keeping track of all ongoing projects.

Pal(a)eoPERCS Committee (PC; Fig 1): The initial leadership team for Pal(a)eoPERCS also included Andy Fraas, now Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria, and Catherine Davis, now Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University, both of whom contributed significantly to the initial phases of this series. Our current committee member, Jana Burke, from Michigan State University, is currently on family leave.

Fig. 1: The image is a collage of images of 8 people organized into 2 connected rows of 3 images and a third row of 2 images.


The first 6 images are of current steering committee members. The top left image is a headshot of Elizabeth Siebert, a white woman with brown hair in a ponytail wearing glasses. She is wearing a black jacket and has a gray 3D printed trilobite on her shoulder that points. The top middle image is a photo of Rehemat Bhatia, a brown-skinned woman wearing a globe costume depicting the Earth. Her hair is tied in a ponytail and she is standing on a wooden box in a pedestrian shopping area. The top right image is a photo of Jana Burke, a white woman wearing a baseball cap and pink jacket on a mountain in Flims, Switzerland. Her arms are outstretched and she is grinning, with clouds and mountains in the background. The left image in the second row is a photo of Pedro Godoy, a brown eyed, dark haired and bearded man wearing a dark gray T-shirt. He is smiling and sitting in front of a blackboard on which the names of two species of crocodylomorphs can be read. In front of him on a wooden table are three skulls of fossil crocodylomorphs. The middle image in the second row is of Chrissy Hall, a white woman wearing a dark jacket. She is in a room with museum collections, painting with liquid latex on fossils, using a lamp to help them dry. The image in the second row on the right is Natasha Sekon, a brown-skinned woman, wearing glasses and wearing a pink rain jacket, brown pants and a red backpack. She wears a cave helmet with two headlights and nitrile gloves. She stands in a cave in southeastern New Mexico. The images below are of former committee members. The lower left image is of Andy Fraas, a white-skinned man wearing a green shirt, gray hat, sunglasses, and a wedding ring. He has a young girl with white skin on his shoulders in a pink t-shirt with two white stripes on the sleeves and jeans. He also has a white-skinned baby strapped to his chest in a black and white baby basket. They are walking on a sidewalk in a city. The lower right image is of Kathryn Davis, a white woman with brown hair wearing a red shirt and sunglasses on her head. She stands on a muddy bank of the PeeDee River, holding a belemnite and smiling.

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