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New Geology Professor Brings New Research Area to Baylor

Aug. 11, 2009

A Yale University researcher has joined Baylor University's geology department to head up the newly constructed Thomas W. Goforth Paleomagnetic Laboratory in the Baylor Sciences Building.

Dr. Daniel Peppe, assistant professor of geology at Baylor, was recently hired after spending several years at Yale. Peppe is an expert in paleomagnetism, paleobotany and paleoclimatology to reconstruct past ecosystems to study climate change on land.

"I am excited to come to Baylor for almost too many reasons to name," Peppe said. "Over the next few years, Baylor will become one of only a handful of institutions in the world with several faculty members and students conducting research focused on terrestrial paleoclimatology."

Peppe will conduct his research in the newly constructed Thomas W. Goforth Paleomagnetic Laboratory, which was made possible by a generous donation from Baylor alumnus Dr. Ken Carlile and his wife, Celia Carlile. The new lab will house a superconducting rock magnetometer, which measures the magnetism in the rock samples that will allow Baylor researchers to determine the magnetic direction of the samples, which in turn helps date the rocks.

The new lab also will house an automated sample changer, which increases the lab's output and allows Baylor researchers to measure up to 180 samples in a single run. When the lab is complete, it will be one of the few in the world with these capabilities.

Peppe's research focuses on integrating the study of the earth's magnetic fields, past remains of plants and past climates to reconstruct past ecosystems, which will allow him to study how ecosystems respond to climate change and the variations in climate on a local, regional and global scale.

"Although we know a great deal about changes in climate through geologic time, most research has been focused on oceans," Peppe said. "This research will give us insights into things like the dynamics of continental climates in the past and how changes in temperatures at the poles and the equator will affect temperature and rainfall patterns at the mid-latitudes."

Peppe has been awarded the Philip M. Orville Prize for outstanding research and scholarship in the earth sciences and has dozens of authored research publications to date.