The Geology Department is pleased to welcome Dr. Judith Nagel-Myers to St. Lawrence University.
Dr. Nagel-Myers will fill our tenure-track position in paleontology. She is a graduate of the Ph.D. program at Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany. She comes to us from the Paleontological Research Institute in Ithaca, New York where she has served in several capacities since 2007. In addition, she has served as an adjunct lecturer at the State University of New York at Cortland recently.
Dr. Nagel-Myers’s research focuses on fossil marine mollusks. She is especially interested in their form and function and the circumstances of the evolution of their traits, incorporating the relationships of species with habitat and climate as well as species with each other. She examines identifiable traces in the fossil record (e.g., scars of healed injuries induced by crushing predators) and species traits (e.g., body size) through time. These data provide information on structure and function of ancient communities, which are fundamentally shaped by organisms and their interactions with their biotic and abiotic environments.
She works with Carl Brett (University of Cincinnati), Greg Dietl (PRI), and John Handley (PRI) on the trace fossil record of durophagous predation in the Middle Devonian Hamilton Fauna of New York State. This benthic mollusk assemblage has demonstrated faunal stability over more than 5 million years. This study is testing if this stability can also be observed in the biotic interactions between the organisms in this community. The results of this project are adding a new perspective to the debate over what is, in this particular time interval, also known as ‘coordinated stasis’.
Another collaborative project with Dr. Rich Aronson (Florida Institute of Technology) and Dr. Greg Dietl (Paleontological Research Institution) focuses on Eocene mollusk faunas from Antarctica. In the center of this collaboration is naticid drilling predation within these Eocene units. This biotic interaction is especially interesting, because it took place during a time of extreme climate fluctuations, which marked the start of the long cooling leading to the establishment of present-day oceanographic and atmospheric circulation. This project is using drilling predation as an ecological proxy to test what effect the drop in predation pressure and temperature has had on the trophic structure of this ecosystem.