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Insights into Organic Geochemistry with Dr. Megan Rohrssen This Week

EES welcomes Distinguished Speaker Dr. Megan Rohrssen, Central Michigan University.

"Organic geochemistry: Insights into the invisible world of ancient microbial ecosystems"

Microbes are central to biogeochemical cycling in the environment and the history of life on earth; however, the fossil record of microscopic, vaguely-spherical, soft-bodied organisms is challenging to interpret. Consequently, in order to better understand the evolving interactions between microorganisms and earth systems, we must apply all of the tools at our disposal, preferably synergistically. Molecular organic geochemistry, or the study of “lipid biomarkers,” is one such tool. Molecular organic geochemistry can be considered a form of paleontology, but utilizing the distinctive molecules organisms produce, rather than body or trace fossils. Like other paleobiological approaches, molecular organic geochemists must contend with source attribution and taphonomy. Nonetheless, we can derive insights into the form and function of ancient ecosystems that would otherwise be invisible. In this presentation, I will take you back on a tour of the exciting life and times of the Silurian Period and provide examples of how molecular organic geochemistry can enrich our knowledge of the secret world of microbes throughout the last half billion years of earth history. 

Join us for new insights into ancient microbial ecosystems on Friday, February 8, 2019 at 12:30 PM in Room 204, Natural Science Building on the East Lansing campus.

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