My research interests lie in the area of organic geochemistry. Within this interdisciplinary field, I currently have two main areas of emphasis listed below.
1. Climate and environmental change: Organic matter is especially sensitive to changes in environmental and climate conditions. The organic matter found in fresh-water and marine sediments records all of the changes that have occurred within the water column and watershed regions. The amount and type of organic matter can provide general data on depositional and preservational parameters. Analyzing for specific organic compounds contained in sedimentary organic matter (i.e. n-alkanes, PAHs, and fatty acids) enhances our understanding about variations in environmental and climate systems. Funding for this type of research has been provided by the Ocean Drilling Project for sediment samples collected off the coast of Peru by Dr. Thomas Naehr (J. Silliman: Co-PI).
2. Differences in organic geochemical practices: Sediment samples are not prepared consistently from lab to lab. Due to differences in sample preparation and extraction procedures, organic geochemical results can vary from study to study. Such differences are important to understand in order to compare results of one study to another. A comparison analysis is being carried out by contrasting results acquired from sediments collected from a northern temperate fresh-water lake to results obtained from a marine sediment collected in a subtropical setting with identical variations in sample pretreatment and extraction techniques. This research is being funded by a University Research Enhancement Grant from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (J. Silliman: PI).