Shortcut Navigation:

Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

C.O.A.S.T. and W.R.P.I. Research Poster Reception

Dr. Rhodes, President Garcia, and graduate student Robert Leeper

Graduate student Robert Leeper and his advisor Dr. Brady Rhodes, presented a poster “Evidence for abrupt subsidence in the Seal Beach Wetlands, Southern California” at the student-faculty research poster reception at the C.S.U. Chancellor's Office in Long Beach on March 24, 2015.  This reception was co-hosted by the C.S.U. Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) and the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (W.R.P.I.).  The poster session coincided with the C.S.U. Board of Trustees meeting, and afforded an opportunity for COAST and W.R.P.I. grant recipients (only 1 from each C.S.U. campus) to showcase their research to the trustees, C.S.U. campus presidents, and C.S.U. Chancellor.  Robert’s poster drew special interest from Chancellor White who lives quite near Seal Beach and frequently kayaks along this section of coast.  C.S.U.F. president Dr. Mildred Garcia also spent several minutes listening to Robert’s story.


Chancellor White and graduate student Robert Leeper.The Seal Beach wetlands (S.B.W.) are located along the Newport-Inglewood fault zone (N.I.F.Z.). Coseismic subsidence along the fault should cause sudden changes in sediment of the marsh. Based on multiple analyses of sediment cores, we identify four stratigraphic units in the S.B.W.: (1) very fine to fine sand from 426-350 cm; (2) organic-rich mud from 350-225 cm; (3) fine to coarse silt and clay from 225-100 cm; and (4) organic-rich mud with interbedded mud laminae from 100-0 cm. We hypothesize that unit 2 represents a relic marsh surface that subsided coseismically. Fossil diatoms suggest unit 4 is an intertidal deposit, unit 3 is a fresh/slightly brackish water deposit, and unit 2 is an intertidal deposit. Units 2 and 3 are separated by a sharp, irregular contact. These observations are consistent with the marsh subsiding abruptly during an earthquake on the N.I.F.Z. As a result of the earthquake, the intertidal environment abruptly changed to an environment dominated by fresh to slightly brackish water. We suggest that the marsh did not flood by seawater because coseismic uplift of the southwest segment of the N.I.F.Z. temporarily isolated the S.B.W. from tidal influence. Radiocarbon dates constrain this event to <1957 cal year B.P.

C.S.U.F. Represented at A.G.U.

Cal State Fullerton Represented at American Geophysical Union


Ten faculty members from across campus joined staff members, students and alumni in co-authoring a number of posters or serving as session chairs during last month's American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco. Among the campus members were:

  • Mathew E. Kirby, associate professor of geological sciences, geology majors Holly Eeg, Ricardo Lucero, Rosa Murrieta, Andrea Arevalo and Jennifer Palermo, and teaching associate Christine Hiner were co-authors of the poster "Late-Glacial to Holocene Hydroclimatic Change in the Mojave Desert: Silver Lake, CA."
  • Kirby, Hiner and Palmermo were among the co-authors of the poster "Late Holocene Hydrologic Variability Reconstruction of the Coastal Southwestern United States Using Lake Sediments from Crystal Lake, CA."
  • Kirby, Hiner and Joanna Fantozzi, lecturer in geological sciences, were co-authors of an invited presentation, "Tropical Pacific Forcing of Late-Holocene Hydrologic Variability in the Coastal Southwest United States."
  • Brady Rhodes, professor of geological science, Kirby, Nicole Bonuso, associate professor of biological science, and alumni Dylan Garcia and D'lisa O'hara Creager '14 (B.S. geology) were co-authors of "Evidence of Coseismic Subsidence Along the Newport-Inglewood Fault Zone During the Late Holocene."
  • Sean Loyd, assistant professor of geological sciences, chaired a session on "Clumped Isotope Geochemistry: From Advances in Methodology to Applications in the Geosciences I Posters." Loyd also was co-convener of the session "Clumped Isotope Geochemistry: From Advances in Methodology to Applications in the Geosciences II"; author of the poster "Carbonate concretions as a significant component of ancient marine carbon cycles: Insights from paired organic and inorganic carbon isotope analyses of a Cretaceous shale"; and co-author of "Investigation of the Origins of Modern Firm Grounds in Walker Lake, Nevada: Implications for Lacustrine Climate Records and Hardgrounds in the Rock Record," "Carbon Associated Nitrate (CAN) in the Ediacaran Johnnie Formation, Death Valley, California and Links to the Shuram Negative Carbon Isotope Excursion."
  • Phillip A. Armstrong, chair and professor of geological sciences, was among the co-authors of the poster "Diverse Approaches USED to Characterize the Earthquake and Tsunami Hazards Along the Southern Alaska Continental Margin."

Graduate student profiled

pkloess1Many kids have a fascination with dinosaurs.

Cal State Fullerton geology teacher and paleontology graduate student Peter Kloess was one of those kids and is now making his dream of digging up dinosaur bones a reality.

“My mom and dad read books to me about dinosaurs and it’s just something that stuck,” he said. “I was one of these kids that would read an encyclopedia and remember everything about every dinosaur.”

Kloess spends his summers conducting dinosaur expeditions in the Four Corners region of the United States for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont.

During each expedition, which lasts between two weeks and three months, Kloess and his crew camp out in tents, wake up with the sun and hike in specific areas based on the geology of the land.

“We are looking for rocks of certain age, of a particular depositional environment and places that have historically had fossils before,” Kloess said.

Then it’s eyes to the ground, he said. To the untrained eye, it may seem like just wandering.

“You are looking for fossils that are sticking out of the ground and once you find one then you start poking around that area,” said Kloess. “It’s not just those paintbrushes, dental picks, like stuff you see at the dentists’ office; (it’s a) hammer and chisel and sometimes if you are in really tough rocks, jackhammers – so there is a lot of heavy lifting that’s involved.”

In New Mexico, Kloess has found teeth of tyrannosaurids, the family group that includes the Tyrannosaurus rex.

“We are only finding portions, but a whole tooth could be several inches long and tends to have a bit of curve to it and lots of serrations,” said Kloess. “Just like a steak knife, the serrations help cut through the meat.”

In Utah, Kloess has found fossils of hadrosaurs, also known as duck-billed dinosaurs.

“(Hadrosaurs) get called the cows of the cretaceous because they are these large herbivorous dinosaurs that to some extent become fodder for our big predators that everybody is so intent on finding, like the T. rex.”

For his thesis project as a Titan graduate student, Kloess is identifying about 300 bird specimens found throughout Orange County.

The bird specimens, which Kloess says are derived from dinosaur lineage, are stored at the Cooper Center.

Based on those identifications, his intent is to determine how the bird population responded to the tectonic and climatic events during the Miocene period, which ranged from five to 23 million years ago, he said.

The Orange County native bird that caught Kloess’ interest is the pelagornithid, also known as boney-toothed birds.

“They had these tooth-like projections off their beak, (but they are) not true teeth – they are not made of enamel and dentin like our teeth,” he said. “They go extinct right in the middle of the period time that I am looking at. What happened to them? What changed that made them disappear? I’m hoping to find some more information about them.”

Kloess incorporates fossils into the three Geology 101-lab classes he teaches. He plans to graduate in spring 2015. Kloess has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Montana State University.

Article from Orange County Register

Parham Lab Students at W.A.V.P.


Parham Lab Cooper center W.A.V.P.


Lab members of faculty curator Dr. James Parham represent the John D. Cooper Center at the Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting (held at Cal State Stanislaus this year). Five students are presenting original research on Cooper Center fossils. Pictured from left to right are Dr. Jorge Velez-Juarbe (postdoc in the Parham Lab and curator at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles), Isaac Magallanes (undergraduate presenting research on fossil walruses), Gabriel Santos (graduate student presenting research on a bonebed from San Clemente), David Morales and Peter Kloess (undergraduate and graduate student respectively presenting on fossil birds from Orange County), and Crystal Cortez (presenting on a fossil white shark from Orange County).

Undergraduate headlines article about High-impact learning

crystalcortezCrystal Cortez was born and raised in East Los Angeles and never thought she would be where she is at today.

Cortez is a junior geology major at Cal State Fullerton studying great white shark fossils with Dr. James Parham, she has presented at two national geology conferences, and she plans to conduct research in Thailand this summer with Dr. Brady Rhodes.

“I am just a little girl from East L.A.; I guess I never really expected myself to be in a position that I am now,” Cortez said.

(STEM)² “helped me find my confidence,” she said.

Cal State Fullerton’s (STEM)² program – Strengthening Transfer Education & Matriculation in STEM – is designed to encourage science, technology, engineering, and math degrees, retain students in STEM fields, produce more community college STEM transfers to four-year institutions and, ultimately, increase the number of Hispanic/Latino and low-income students attaining STEM baccalaureates.

Cortez was introduced to the program while attending Citrus College in Glendora. Santiago Canyon College and Cypress College are also included.