Lab Manager

Michael DaSilva is a laboratory technician in the Department of Environmental Science and manager of the Past Climate and Ecosystems Lab. He earned his undergraduate and masters degrees at Montclair State University, where his research was focused on the fractionation processes of magmas in the southern Patagonian Andes and used to develop geodynamic models to better understand the triple junction tectonics.

Before joining William Paterson University he was a technician at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, where he assisted in curating the petrology collection and mentoring visiting scientists in the use of electron microprobe analyses. He is particularly interested in the geochemical applications of Earth and Environmental Science, particularly the use of ICPOES, Xray Diffraction, and CHN instrumentation. He is also passionate in undergraduate teaching and mentoring where he has played a lead role in advising undergraduate researchers. Outside the lab, he enjoys mountain biking, coaching little league baseball, and training for his next triathlon.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Alliya Akhtar is currently an NSF postdoc working with Elizabeth M. Niespolo (Princeton University) and Michael Griffiths on the use of U-series geochronology and stable isotope proxies for trophic level dynamics (e.g. d44Ca and d26Mg) to better understand the time scale, extent and impact of paleoclimate and human evolution on Southeast Asian megafaunal tooth assemblages during the Quaternary. Alliya also studies the evolution of climate and ecosystems over earth history, by focusing on the interactions between physiology, biosphere, climate, and ocean geochemistry. Her work spans a variety of temporal (several hours to hundreds of millions of years) and spatial (local and regional environments and ecosystems to global ocean) scales, across a variety of substrates (shallow water carbonates, reef assemblages, elasmobranch and terrestrial megafaunal tooth assemblages, and speleothems). By analyzing the geochemical signatures recorded by these archives, she hopes to address questions related to paleoecology, paleoceanography and paleoclimatology. Alliya completed her PhD at Princeton University, where she studied the calcium isotope signature of modern and ancient shark teeth and carbonates. Additionally, she served as a Diversity Fellow with the Office of Access, Diversity and Inclusion and was an organizing member of PWiGS (Princeton Women in Geosciences). Before that, she was an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College, where she was a member of the Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Teams.

Dr. Annabel Wolf joined UC Irvine as a postdoc after completing her Ph.D. at Northumbria University Newcastle, where she studied past and present hydroclimate variability of Vietnam using stable isotopes and trace elements in cave deposits. During her undergraduate, Annabel studied  geosciences at the Ruhr-University Bochum, focussing on lake sediments  from Eastern Anatolia. Currently, she continues to research the hydroclimate variability of Southeast Asia using multi-proxy speleothem records and climate model simulations of the past.

Dr. Elizabeth Patterson is currently a postdoc at William Paterson University. For her postdoctoral research, she aims to improve modeled estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity by constraining cloud parameterizations in a perturbed parameter ensemble (PPE) of the GISS ModelE2.1 climate model with paleoclimate records. Her previous work largely focused on generating new speleothem and coral records using trace elements (Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca) and stable isotopes measurements (d18O, d13C, d44Ca). She obtained her PhD from the University of California, Irvine in 2023 where she used speleothems from Vietnam to reconstruct 45,000 years of Southeast Asian hydroclimate. She completed her MSc from the University of Arizona in 2018 where she worked on coral records from northern Australia. In 2016 she graduated from Bates College with a BS in geology.

Ph.D./M.S. Students

Changhai Hou is a Ph.D. student in Earth Sciences at the University of Birmingham working with Dr. James Bendle and Dr. Michael Griffiths. He earned his M.S. from the China University of Geosciences (Beijing) and his B.E. from the China University of Mining and Technology. He is reconstructing paleoclimate by biomarkers extracted from terrestrial archives in the USA and Europe. He is also developing a new paleoclimate proxy, 3-hydroxy fatty acids, and applying it to these archives.

Randy Flores (he/him) is a Ph.D. student in Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) working with Drs Robert Eagle and Aradhna Tripati, and Drs Michael Griffiths and Marty Becker from WPU. Randy transferred to UCLA in 2016 from Pasadena City College, and graduated in 2018 as a co-valedictorian of the department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences with a Bachelors of Science in geology. He is interested in the varied applications of clumped isotope paleothermometry including reconstructing past climates and determining the thermoregulatory abilities of extinct animals. His current research involves investigating relationships between the clumped isotope signature and formation temperature of biominerals in foraminifera and shark teeth. Randy is an Early Career Fellow with the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science and is involved with peer mentoring and facilitating lab tours.


Jade Knighton (she/her) is a Ph.D. student at UCLA studying geology as a member of the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences and working with Drs Robert Eagle and Aradhna Tripati, and Drs Michael Griffiths and Marty Becker from WPU. She hopes to use clumped isotope geochemistry to study Paleozoic and Mesozoic vertebrate fossils. Jade earned her B.S. in Geosciences from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2017, and her M.S. in Environmental Geosciences from Mississippi State University in 2019. At UCLA, she is a Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellow and hopes to use her experiences to pursue a career in academia as a professor. When she’s not working, Jade enjoys music, video games, and watching horror and action movies.


Undergraduate Students

Jack Etterbeek  is a Junior at William Paterson University where he is majoring in environmental science. His research involves analyzing oxygen and carbon isotopes. along with concentrations of Sr/Ca and Ba/Ca, in modern and fossil (last millennium) corals from Bangladesh and the Maldives to gain insight into past environmental conditions (i.e., ocean temperatures and monsoon rainfall).

Sabrina Ryan is a Junior at William Paterson University studying Environmental Science and is currently in the Biology Honors program. Her research involves the bulk sedimentary and biogeochemical analysis of soil and lake sediments from the eastern U.S. to reconstruct the paleoclimate history of the region since the last ice age.

Lab Alumni


Ksawery Biskup (Water Treatment Officer, City of Westminster, Colorado)
Jessica Bonilla (Environmental Scientist, TRC Companies, Inc.)
Adanny Camacho (York Analytical Laboratories, Inc.)
Chelesia Clarke (Environmental Specialist, Triumvirate Environmental)
Austin Degen
Tara Ekiert (Industrial Hygienist, Garden State Environmental, Inc.)
Seth Getch
Chris Gocklin (Teacher, Barnstable Academy)
Bryan Gonzalez (Natural Resources Specialist, United States Marine Corps)
Kyle Hansen
Erica McNally (Environmental Scientist, Matrix New World Engineering)
Allison Neumann (Ph.D. student, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Troy Nixon (Lab Technician, Columbia University)
Drew Pedersen (Teacher, Crocket Middle School)
Richard V. Plattel (Teacher, Manchester Regional High School)
Fatima Popcakova (Doctor of Dental Surgery)
Randall Sanders (Teacher, Passaic Valley Regional High School)

Graduate students

Rachel Chan (MS UC Merced, 2022)
Molly Karnes (MS UC Merced, 2022)
Emma Kast (Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Cambridge)
Jessica Wang (Assistant Professor, Bellevue College)
Christopher Wood (Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Waikato)
Hongying Yang (Senior data scientist, Apple)


Riovie Ramos (Research Fellow, Earth Observatory of Singapore)

Other Collaborators

Nicole Davi, William Paterson University
Brendan Buckley, Columbia University
Richard Mortlock, Rutgers University