People in the Leaf Wax Lab

Join us

Sarah Feakins
Sarah Feakins photo

Graduate Researchers

Rachel So
BA Northwestern (Dual major: Earth Sciences & Environmental Studies) 2020
August 2020 – Provost Fellow.

Rachel’s interests are in reconstructing Cenozoic paleoclimate using organic geochemical techniques. She is researching the warming and subsequent cooling in the Miocene and its relation to the organic carbon cycle, paleoclimate and paleohydrology.

Rachel So
Chan Mao Chen
rotation project on biomarkers in landslide deposits

Undergraduate Researchers

Betelhem Assefa
Biochemistry major, senior
Biogeochemistry research internship
Betelhem Assefa photo
Britney Vu
Health and Human Sciences major, sophomore
Biogeochemistry research internship
Britney Vu photo
Angelina Usibelli
Earth Sciences major, senior
Senior thesis research on vineyard leaf traits
Out in the field!

Lab Alumni

Mark Peaple
PhD candidate USC Earth Sciences – defended May 2022!
MEarthSci Oxford (Earth Sciences) 2016

Mark’s research interests are in paleoclimate and human evolution. Project 1: Reconstructing Pliocene environments at Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia. Fieldwork February 2018. article in Nature Project 2: Climate of the past 200,000 years from Searles Lake, California. Plant wax interpretations using machine learning, article in Organic Geochemistry Multi-proxy reconstructions, preprint at ESSOAR Pliocene record coming soon. He is heading onto a postdoc at the University of Southampton, UK, to work on tropical Pacific hydroclimate.

Mark Peaple

Dr. Emily Tibbett
PhD USC (Geology) 2022 – defended Feb. 2022!
BSc UC Davis (Env. Science and Management) 2016

Emily’s research interests are in reconstructing high latitude climate during warm times in the geologic past. She worked on biomarker reconstructions of the last 3 million years before the EOT in Prydz Bay Antarctica as part of an NSF-funded project – article in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimate; sediments from the Sabrina coast article in Geobios;  SHALDRIL cores off the Antarctic Peninsula (article in review at PP) and comparisons with DeepMIP-EOT (article in submission). She has been active in Skype-a-Scientist, the USC SACNAS chapter, the USC Science Policy Group, as well as #scicomm on Twitter (@ejtibbett) and at the NHM. As NSF PD recipient she is heading on to UMass for a postdoc and switching to the Arctic!

Emily Tibbett
Dr. Christoph Häggi
SNF Postdoctoral Fellowship 2019-2021
PhD Bremen 2017
MSc ETH Zurich 2013
BSc ETH Zurich 2011

Christoph Häggi is an organic geochemist and paleoclimatologist working in the Amazon and Cerrado. During his 2-year postdoc at USC, he has conducted soil sampling across the Cerrado in 2019. Selected to sail on IODP Exp 387 Amazon Margin and is a member of the ICDP TADP science party. Christoph heads to ETH with an SNF homecoming fellowship – and will be based in Tim Eglinton’s lab.

Christoph photo
Sharon Tu
Biology major, freshman
Biogeochemistry research internship
Sharon Tu photo
Dea Kurti
Env Eng & Pol Sci, freshman
Biogeochemistry research internship
Dea Kurti photo

Dr. Anne Tamalavage
BSc Penn State, MSc TAMU, PhD TAMU 2021, now postdoc U Montreal. Visiting student Summer 2016, 2017 and 2019. Project: Bahamas Late Holocene Paleoecological and Paleoclimate Reconstruction. article

Annie Tamalavage
Hyo Sun (Sunny) Lee
Biochemistry Undergraduate.
Lab internship on plant wax biochemistry. URAP fellowship awardee, summer 2019. Fall 2019
Sunny photo
Lindsay Luchinsky
Environmental Studies Undergraduate
Provost Fellowship. Fall 2019.
off for study abroad in Spring 2020!
Jonnie Dolan
Earth Science Undergraduate
Research experience. Fall 2019.
graduated May 2020!

Dr. Daolai Zhang
Daolai Zhang is an organic geochemist working on coastal marine settings and soils.
CSC Scholar Nov 2018-Oct 2019.

article in GCA

Daolai Zhang photo
Chris Rincon
High School student
Lab internship on plant wax biochemistry. Summer 2019.
Chris photo
Weiwei Hua
Undergraduate coursework in Earth Science at USC and continuation on the Progressive Masters track. Master’s thesis on tropical trees and their carbon isotopic composition. MSc June 2019!
Weiwei photo
Dr. Hyejung Lee
PhD (Geology) 2019, Provost Fellow.
BA University of Pennsylvania (Earth Science) 2013.
Hyejung is an isotope biogeochemist. She specializes in experimental determinations of fundamental isotopic fractionations. Her thesis “Isotopic fractionations in plant biomarker molecules with application to paleoclimate” comprises:
Project 1: Arabidopsis thaliana. article
Project 2: Derivatization conditions. article
Project 3: Lignin methoxyl method development article Project 4: Woody reconstructions from the Bengal Fan spanning 19 million yrs! article in PNAS  Now Scientist I at Beyond Meat in El Segundo, California.
Efrain Vidal
Environmental Studies Undergraduate.
Lab internship on Bengal Fan project, wheat wax and Serengeti soils. KCM Undergraduate Grant and Anita Brown Wilson Scholarship awardee.

Graduated May 2019! Starting a PhD in Chemistry at University of Oregon, August 2019! Google scholar

Efrain Vidal
Yannick Matia
Undergraduate, Economics major & Environmental Studies minor.
Lab internship on Bengal Fan and Serengeti soils project.

Graduated May 2019!

Yannick Matia
Dr. Xiuwei Liu
PhD Chinese Academy of Sciences (Agroecology)
BSc Binzhou (Ecology)
postdoc TAMU, postdoc at the Noble Research Institute, now faculty at Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China.

Visitor October 2016, August 2017, remotely August 2018. Conducting experimental studies of leaf wax response in winter wheat cultivars to drought conditions. article1, article2, article3

Xiuwei Liu
Dr. “ChristineMong Sin Wu
PhD (Geology) 2019. Christine is an isotope biogeochemist and paleoclimatologist. Her PhD thesis entitled “From tree tops to river runoff – tracing plant wax biomarkers across the Peruvian Andes and Amazon.” comprises 3 published manuscripts:
Project 1: Leaf wax carbon isotopes in a tropical forest elevation gradient, GCA article.
Project 2: Catchment integration of plant wax biomarkers, GCA article.
Project 3: Soil biomarker profiles, OG article.

MSc USC (Geology) 2014: Paleoclimate reconstructions from Lake Elsinore, California, using leaf wax hydrogen isotopes. EPSL article.

BSc, MSc Hong Kong University (Earth Science) 2012.

Christine Wu
Aleesha Bakkelund
MSc 2018 University of Toronto Mississauga
visitor June 2017
Modern calibration and Holocene Arctic reconstructions, Organic Geochemistry. article
Aleesha Bakkelund
Gerard Otiniano
current masters student University of Toronto Mississauga, visitor May 2017. Project: Pliocene Arctic reconstructions
Patrick Cho
Earth Sciences Undergraduate.
Graduated May 2018.
Senior thesis on the Bengal Fan.
Provost fellowship: Bengal Fan research.
JPL intern in the Williford lab, summer 2017.
Next masters in Climate & Society at Columbia! Now PhD student at Notre Dame!

watch Patrick in the lab
Patrick Cho
Shreya Agrawal
Earth Sciences Undergraduate.
Freshman lab internship on Bengal Fan project.
“Lina” Woorin Lee
Environmental Science and Health Undergraduate. Provost Fellowship.
Lab internship on Bengal Fan project. Mini GC teaching/outreach project development.
Ariel Borsook
Earth Science Undergraduate. Provost Fellowship.
Lab internship on Bengal Fan project.Heading to WHOI for an intership in the Galy lab, summer 2017.
Dr. Hannah Liddy
PhD USC 2017
BA Bard College (Environmental Studies) 2010
USC July 2011-May 2017 College Merit Fellow & Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship 2013-2014, reconstructing Pliocene NE African environments from marine sediments of DSDP Site 231, article in EPSL. Miocene grass fossil from Red Rock State Park article. Then IODP Expedition 355 drilling the Indus Fan. 
watch Hannah in the lab
Now Executive Liason Officer for AIMES at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
Hannah (231x350)
“Jay” Jun Ho Paek
Chemical Engineering Undergraduate.
Lab internship on Bengal Fan project.
Graduated May 2017
Now a project analyst at Danone, New Jersey
Jay (250)
Dr. Jess Hinojosa
postdoc Caltech, visitor September 2016
Southern Hemisphere Paleoclimate article at EPSL.
Now Organic Geochemist at Shell, Houston
Alexandra Figueroa
Earth Sciences Undergraduate.
Lab internship working on Peru, Indus and Bengal Fan projects. WiSE fellowship recipient 2015. Senior thesis in 2015 on Indus Fan.
Graduated May 2016.
Now O’Neill Service Group in Seattle.
Ali Figueroa (540x640)
Elias Karkabi
BSc University of California, Los Angeles (Earth Science) 2014
Graduate Student Provost Fellow.
August 2014-July 2015 Bay of Bengal Neogene plant wax reconstructions of vegetation and monsoon change.
Elias Karkabi_small
Tom Peters
MSc University of Amsterdam 2015. Visitor at USC Jan-Jul 2015. Project: leaf wax traits in tropical forest elevation gradient. Now working in Tech!
Jeremy Sunwoo
Environmental Sciences Undergraduate. Lab internship assisting with Peru project. Graduated 2015. Worked at Los Angeles waterboard with CalEPA. Now heading to graduate school!

Dr. Camilo Ponton
Postdoctoral researcher January 2013 – June 2015. PhD MIT/WHOI. 

River biomarker studies in Andean-Amazonian catchment. article. NSF funded, January – December 2013.

Lignin methoxyl hydrogen isotope proxy development. PRF funded, 2014.

Bengal Fan IODP Exp. IODP funded, February – June 2015 watch Camilo onboard Exp 354 here.

Subsequently postdoc at Caltech, in John Eiler’s group. Now Assistant Professor at Western Washington University.

Lindsay Arvin
Earth Sciences Undergraduate, Graduated December 2014.SURF and WiSE fellow. Estwing Pick Prize winner. Senior Thesis in 2014: Leaf waxes and plant waters in a tropical montane forest in Peru NSF GSRF recipient: Masters from U Wyoming
Now at Trihydro, environmental consulting, Laramie WY
Lindsay thru lines (640x416)
Clara Hua
Undergraduate Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Major. Lab internship assisting with Peru project.
Krista McPherson
Earth Sciences Undergraduate. Awarded SURF and ESRAP funding for work on the Peru project. WiSE fellow.
Graduated 2015.
Masters at USC in GIS, now works at ESRI.
Krista McPherson (400x289)
Dr. Bernhard Aichner
Postdoctoral researcher, DAAD Tibetan lakes. January 2013 – April 2014. Research published in Climate of the Past article
and GRL article. Next DFG-funded Research Associate U Potsdam, and now IGB-Berlin.
Bernhard at Karakul (220x158)
Dr. Bernd Hoffmann
Visiting Graduate Student, University of Potsdam
May-July 2012 Hydrogen isotopes recorded by plant leaf waxes across an elevational gradient in Nepal. Hoffmann et al., 2016 EPSL
Miguel Rincon
Technician. Now technician for the USC Earth Science Department.
Miguel (220x150)
Alexa Sieracki
Earth Sciences Chemistry minor. Graduated Summer 2013. WiSE fellow Provost fellow SOAR funding African paleoclimate. Senior Thesis in 2013: Unraveling our human history: habitats of early hominin evolution. Analysis of the d13C of plant leaf waxes in a marine sediment core.
Research published in Geology in 2013. article
Now at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Dr. Paulina Pinedo
Graduate Student
lab rotation 2011. Diagnosing the products of pyrolysis of methyl iodide – for the lignin methoxyl hydrogen isotope proxy. Published in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. article
Evan Rosca
Undergraduate in Engineering. Lab internship assisting with Peru project.
Evan Rosca (293x400)
Jacob Leonard
Undergraduate in Environmental Science. Lab internship assisting Bernhard Aichner.
Kyle McAhlaney
Undergraduate Chemistry Major. Lab internship assisting with sample processing for the DSDP Site 231 project.
Zhilin (Jeff) Zhang
Petroleum Engineering Masters. Organic Geochemstry internship on Zaca Lake, ANDRILL and DSDP Site 231 projects. Graduated 2012. *Now working for Baker-Hughes, Bakersfield as a Petroleum Engineer.
Megan McDonald
Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate. Field and lab assistant on Zaca Lake project.
Graduated 2012.
*Now working as an engineer and manager
Jack Seeley
Earth Sciences Undergraduate.
SOAR awardee. African tephra. Graduated 2012. Senior Thesis in 2012: hereNow masters student in Ohio.
Susan Oh
Earth Sciences Undergraduate. Avidly reading about geoforensics techniques and applications whilst learning organic geochemistry lab skills.
Graduated 2012.
Now a CPA!
Vincent Nguyen
Biology Undergraduate. Lab internship assisting with sample processing for the DSDP Site 231 project.
Kristan Culbert
Earth Sciences Undergraduate. Graduated from USC December 2011. Field assistant at Carpinteria Salt Marsh and assisting with Zaca sample preparation.
Lesley Petrie
Earth Sciences UndergraduateField assistant at Zaca Lake. *WiSE fellow 2009 *Honorable mention 2010 *Now PhD student at UCSC.
Dr. Isabel Romero
Postdoctoral Researcher
2009-2010. Research published in Organic Geochemistry article
Now postdoctoral researcher in David Hollander’s Lab at USF.