My research program in paleobotany is broadly concerned with the study of permineralized fossil plants and their paleoenvironments from the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic of Antarctica. Within this general framework are several current avenues of research, including:
- Utilization of plant fossils as past climatic and environmental indicators, especially the use of fossil tree rings as proxy climate records;
- Evolution of high latitude terrestrial floras in Antarctica;
- Evolution of Permian and Triassic plants from Antarctica, based on their anatomy and morphology.
In addition, I have a long-standing interest in the structure and evolution of conducting systems in the fossil record, including both xylem and phloem. This work is concerned not only with Permo-Triassic plants from Antarctica, but with representatives from other permineralized floras as well.
High latitude fossil floras are an important resource in understanding past climates and plant growth. Since these plants are often living at the limits of their tolerance, they exhibit a sensitive response to climatic variables. The Antarctic fossil plants are preserved as silica permineralizations in fossil peat deposits, so it is possible to study the cell and tissue systems of the plants for comparison with other fossil and living plants. These peat deposits have provided a wealth of new anatomical and morphological information about several Paleozoic and Mesozoic seed plant groups, especially the Glossopteridales (Permian) and the Corystospermales (Triassic).
- Fossil tree ring growth and paleoclimate interpretation
- Biological input for paleoclimate models
- Adaptations of high latitude fossil floras
- Permian and Triassic permineralized plants from Antarctica
- Distribution and diversity of Permian and Triassic floras from Antarctica
- Fossil phloem--structure, function and phylogenetic trends