I work on cutting-edge method development in stable isotope geochemistry for applications in paleoenvironmental, paleoecological, and archaeological research.
My research includes understanding the isotope systematics of hydrogen and calcium isotope ratios. Bone and other calcified tissues are influenced by an individual's diet and environment, and measurement of their stable isotope ratios can help understand life in the past. I am studying the extent that hydrogen isotopes in bone collagen inform about trophic levels of humans.
In addition, part of my current work focuses on hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in proteins and their potential as recorders of the past environment, including precipitation isotope ratios.
Persistent and important archaeological questions, such as the extent of meat eating and dairy consumption have not been answered adequately with current techniques, so new method developments are key, as well as a more thorough understanding of current techniques such as nitrogen isotope ratios. I am also working on integrating multi-isotope measurements to better constrain diets, and to understand dietary breadth in the past, particularly at critical times in human history, such as just prior to the adoption of agriculture.
In addition, I am interested in chemical preparation techniques for radiocarbon dating of bones and tree rings. I have also worked on calcium isotope ratios for applications in low-temperature geochemistry, particularly in understanding calcium carbonate precipitates in the cave environment.