Dr. Andrea Erhardt, Principal Investigator and Director

I have applied geochemical techniques to a range of paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic questions. As such, I have worked in a range of trace element and isotope systems, including lead, calcium, strontium, molybdenum, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen.  My current interests involve carbonate diagenesis and high resolution analysis of carbonate chemistry through laser ablation and microprobe studies. My students and I are utilizing isotopes to address geochemical questions on topics including paleoceanography, environmental geochemistry, diagenesis, petroleum geology, groundwater methane, and speleothems. Visit my research website at for more information!

Dr. Jordon Munizzi, Research Facility Manager

I completed my undergraduate (2011) degree at the University of Central Florida and received my PhD from the University of Western Ontario in 2017 under the co-supervision of Dr. Lisa Hodgetts and Dr. Fred J. Longstaffe. My research experience includes the application of light stable isotopes to examine modern and ancient faunal ecology and migration in Indonesia and the Canadian Arctic, arctic plant physiology/carbon and nitrogen cycling, and arctic hydrology and surface water-plant water relationships.

Dr. Vanessa Fichtner, Postdoctoral Researcher

After receiving my Diploma degree (Dipl. Geol.) at University of Cologne, Germany, in October 2012, I started my PhD studies in Münster, Germany, in the work group for Historical Geology supervised by Prof. Harald Strauss and Prof. Adrian Immenhauser. In July 2017, I defended my PhD thesis (Dr. rer. nat.) with magna cum laude. My research focuses on the development and application of stable sulfur isotopes in carbonates as proxy for paleoenvironmental conditions and tracer for diagenetic processes. To get a detailed picture about sulfur in the rock samples, I use different wet-chemical extraction techniques in combination with non-destructive methods.

I am fascinated by the interplay of biological and geological processes that have been shaping the Earth’s face for more than 3.5 Ga and I enjoy imaging how Earth might have looked like during its past epochs.

Elizabeth Avery, PhD Student

I received an M.S. from California State University, East Bay in 2013. The focus of my research there was using natural and introduced tracers to explore surface water – groundwater interaction in the Sierra Nevada. In the fall of 2017, I entered the PhD program in Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Kentucky. My current research uses reactive transport modeling to examine the effects of fluid injection in the San Andres formation.

Alex Reis, PhD Student

My geoscience experience has focused primarily on paleoceanography and sedimentary geochemistry. My interest in the subject stems from my time as a student lab assistant and laboratory manager in the Fisk Laboratory of Sedimentology at the University of Cincinnati. Through this position, I was able to analyze and interpret several data sets from around the globe, primarily focusing on the Permian-Triassic Boundary in East Greenland and the Late Pennsylvanian Mid-continent Sea in Kansas and Iowa.Following my graduation and a year working as an environmental consultant, I have returned to the field of paleoceanography, this time honing in on the Midland Basin.  My current focus involves using stable isotopes and bulk rock geochemistry to understand the processes leading to dolomitization in the Wolfcamp Formation.

Eva Lyon, PhD Candidate

My research makes use of geochemical and physical analyses of sedimentary records to discern climatic and environmental change at various temporal and regional scales. My current project explores late Holocene paleoproductivity and hydroclimatic changes of the Eastern Sierra Nevada region using the sedimentary record of June Lake, CA. My prior work as a Lecturer in Geology at Concord University was perhaps the greatest driving factor in my decision to pursue a PhD. As such, after completing my dissertation at UK, I hope to earn a faculty position that allows me to both teach and mentor undergraduate research.

Frank Tamakloe, M.S. Student

I graduated from the College of William and Mary in the summer of 2015. At the College, I studied Geology with a minor in Mathematics. Upon graduation, I accepted a Post-Baccalaureate Intern position at Los Alamos National Laboratory. There, I worked as part of a Geochemistry Group where I helped to characterize a Chromium Plume using particle size analysis and various geochemical methods. I'm excited to be here at UK. My research interests lie primarily in paleoclimate, sedimentology, and sequence stratigraphy. I will be using high resolution chemostratigraphic analysis to reconstruct the conditions that led to the deposition of the Wolfcamp D in the Midland Basin. I will be focused on the late Pennsylvanian to early Permian timeframe and the cyclothems present in the Wolfcamp Formation.

Cris Alvarez Villa, M.S. Student

I earned a B.S. in Geology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At UIUC, I researched and worked in the development of a method to determine the stable chlorine isotopic composition of samples with low-Cl-abundance. I am interested in aqueous geochemistry, hydrogeology and their applications to environmental issues. The aim of my research project at UK will be to evaluate methane in groundwater in relation to oil and gas production and various geochemical conditions in Eastern Kentucky.

Jon Wilson, M.S. Student

My study and research interests are mainly hydrology and low temperature aqueous geochemistry. I am currently conducting research on the effect of changes in the Licking River in Eastern Kentucky on isotopes of freshwater mussel shells and variability of pore-water geochemistry across a backwater wetland in an Appalachian watershed in West Virginia. Much of the research so far has been using the GasBench GC-IRMS system to analyze inorganic carbon and oxygen isotope ratios.

Bailee Morrison, Undergraduate

I’m currently a junior working to get my bachelor of science in geology here at the University of Kentucky.  I work as a research assistant to the graduate students in the geochemistry lab, as well as deal with any work that comes into the lab from other facilities. This includes weighing samples and prepping them for isotopic analysis, cleaning glassware, management of the moisture trap, etc etc. I’m looking forward to learning more as I progress through the geology major! I'm interested in studying volcanology and paleoclimatology. 

Rowan Rich, Undergraduate

I am an undergraduate research assistant here in the Kentucky Stable Isotope Geochemistry Lab. I am a third year undergraduate aspiring to obtain a bachelor of science in Geology at UK. Some of my responsibilities include sample preparation for isotopic analysis, simple maintenance of the lab, and helping the graduate students with their research. I am excited to learn as much as I as can while I am here, and am very thankful for the opportunity to work in the lab with everyone!

Riyam Al Riyami, Undergraduate

I am a senior geology student at University of Kentucky. I am interested in petroleum and petrology, and I am thinking about finishing my grad school in one of these subjects. I did an internship in my country Oman, and I worked with a conventional oil exploration team to provide a detailed fracture gradient that can be used to make a well plan to avoid any mud loss.

April Collins, Undergraduate

I’m currently a first year student at the University of Kentucky aiming to get a bachelor of science in chemistry. I’m also a lab assistant for the Kentucky Stable Isotope Geochemistry Lab. My responsibilities as a lab assistant include weighing samples and helping the graduate students with their research. I’m very excited to continue working here for the rest of my college career. After graduating I hope to continue my education and receive a master’s degree in chemistry and eventually find a nice lab to work in.

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