origin and evolution of life
CLAUDIA C. JOHNSON Associate Professor of Geological Sciences | Geobiology
Claudia’s research in evolutionary paleoecology takes her and students to the Caribbean where they in-
vestigate the composition of ancient reefs and the health of corals’ modern counterparts. Data on coral
species, disease, depth, temperature and geographic location are folded into a database investigated
first for associations, and then for causal relationships emerging from data-driven hypotheses. Rudist
bivalves, the Cretaceous reef builders of the Caribbean, are back in the forefront of research with new
methods of addressing classification and phylogeny.
On the other side of the world and far up from the Cretaceous in the geologic column are investigations
into Tanzania’s Pleistocene fossils that disclose their riverine affinities, and rocks that reveal their fluvial
and volcanic histories from exposures and cores extracted from Olduvai Gorge.
Closer to home and back down the geologic column are class field trips for students to learn field meth-
ods of measuring stratigraphic sections, and collecting fossils for laboratory processing of fossil identifi-
cations and paleoecologic analyses.
Claudia’s Geology of Invertebrates Lab website: http://earth.indiana.edu/claudia/invertebrates/index.html
Above: Students in the G411 Invertebrate Paleontology class measure section and col-
lect fossils at the Upper Dillsboro Formation, Upper Ordovician, Madison, Indiana in
Above and opposite: Student divers learning to take com-
pass orientations and written notations on coral species, all
while maintaining neutral buoyancy.
Students are members of the K492 and K550 Research in
Underwater Science course led by Professor Charles Beeker,
with guest participation by Claudia who teaches coral iden-
tifications and coral reef ecology.
Photos of cannon and anchor are from the 1724 Guadalupe
Underwater Archaeological Preserve in the Dominican Re-
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