"The creation of wealth is certainly not to be despised, but in the long run the only human activities really worthwhile are the search for knowledge and the creation of beauty" (Arthur C. Clarke, 1962).
In the Paleobotany Laboratory at Weston Observatory we are investigating the origin and early evolution of land plants. Emphasis is on the collection and description of early land plant fossil remains. These include microscopic spores and cryptospores, in addition to problematic macrophytes, such as Nematothallus and other interesting plant-like fragments. Current projects include field work in Cambrian strata inthe southern Appalachians, Wisconsin and elsewhere in Central North America in addtion to Precambrian fieldwork in Utah, Michigan UP and the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. Other projects include:
• Acritarch diversity curves and their correlation with secular trends in geochemical systems,
• The study of marine trophic collapse as a possible cause of the later Devonian extinctions,
• Various projects in acritarch systematics, taxonomy and paleoecology,
•Paleoecology of estuarine sediments in the Middle and Upper Cambrian Conasauga Group, eastern Tennessee.
Please go to the Weston Paleobotanical LaboratoryPaleobotanical Laboratory website or, even better, Palaeobotany Laboratory Research Resource Pages for further information about our research activities. If you are a prospective student, you get a better feel for what we do at that site.
In addition to field work and classical taxonomic and systematic work, the research at Boston College involves innovative approaches to microscopy. The setup includes both B&W and color digital cameras fed into a Macintosh computer. Current projects inlude basic shape analysis of fossil spores and analysis of palynomorphs in infrared light.
I teach a science core course at Boston College during the spring semester - GE 146 : Origins and Evolution of Life on Planet Earth. This is an introductory science course using the scientific study of the origins of life as a central point from which to examine science as a process. The interdisciplinary curriculum touches on biology & biochemistry, geology & paleontology, a bit of physics and astronomy - students get to see how basic science background is used across disciplines. We examine the different hypotheses on life origins, starting with the theories of A. I. Oparin and continuing on with the Miler Urey experiments and more recent studies in RNA-based enzymes and chemical evolution. The origin of life is presented not as an event dividing the physical and biological worlds, but as a natural component of the evolution of our planet.
In the spring semester, I teach GE 330, Paleobiology or Topics in Geobiology (GE335). The courses alternate each year, Geobiology will be offered in 2011.
I served as webmaster for the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists AASP, www.palynology.org, for a number of years, and am current President. This organization, founded in 1967, publishes the journal Palynology and functions to promote the science of palynology. I also managed software development for two NSF-funded science education projects during the late 1990s: WhaleNet, and the Princeton Earth Physics Project ( PEPP ).
Weston Observatory of Boston College
Department of Earth & Environmental Science
381 Concord Road
Weston MA 02193-1340 US
telephone & fax:
office 617 552-8395 (campus 552-1967)/ laboratory 617 552-8304 / fax 617 552-8388
home telephone: 617 926-4081
I play bass in a local rock band called the Reverberators. They play occasionally Sally O'Briens in Union Square Somerville. I have a project band called Dolly (with guitarists Bob Metzger & Pete Weatherbee, and drummer Richard Malcolm). Uncertain future.Theold time music play occasionally in upstate NewYork. More info on myspace.
The last days of Twang. How good were they? We'll just never know, but listen to this version of Spider John Koerner's Skipper and his wife to get a taste.
Update: 21 October 2010.