Paul Olsen

The evolution of continental ecosystems (including their external and internal controls and their biological and physical components) is my overall area of research. I am especially interested in the pattern, causes and effects of climate change on geological time scales, mass extinctions, and the effects of evolutionary innovations on global biogeochemical cycles.

In recent years my students and I have engaged in multidisciplinary projects including: drilling and recovering more than 20,000 feet of core from Triassic lake deposits in New Jersey to understand the influence of variations of the earth's orbit on tropical climate, detailed analysis of the great mass extinction 200 million years ago that set the stage for the dominance of the dinosaurs, excavations at major fossil vertebrate sites throughout eastern North America and Morocco, and the evolutionary processes mediating global carbon cycling.

My approach is to use whatever techniques are available to understand ancient earth's biological and physical systems, and consequently, students involved in these areas have used a broad range of disciplines including structural geology, palynology, geochemistry, geophysics and paleontology.