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Dr. Lee Kump
Department of Geosciences, Penn State University (USA)
Lee R. Kump received his A.B. degree in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago in 1981 and his Ph.D. in marine sciences from the University of South Florida in 1986. He has been on the faculty of the Department of Geosciences at Penn State since 1986, where he now serves as Professor of Geosciences and Department Head. He is the former co-editor of "Geology" and the senior author of the textbook "The Earth System," now in its third edition. Other books include “Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming,” co-authored with Michael Mann and “Mathematical Modeling in the Geosciences: A Primer” with Rudy Slingerland. He has published over 100 refereed papers and book chapters on a wide range of Earth science topics. His research has been featured in documentaries that have aired on NOVA Science Now, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, BBC, Australian Broadcast Corporation, and the History Channel.
Kump is a fellow of the Geological Societies of America and London and of the Geochemical Society, and received the Distinguished Service Medal from the Geological Society of America in 2000. He is the Distinguished Alumnus of the University of South Florida (2009). He is Associate Director of the Earth System Evolution Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and a member of the American Geophysical Union. He is an affiliate of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and Penn State's Earth System Science Center.
Kump's research interests include the evolution of ocean and atmosphere composition on geologic time scales, biogeochemical cycling in aquatic environments, the behaviour of nutrient and trace elements in natural environments, human impact on coastal environments including coral reefs, and environmental change during extreme events (mass extinctions, extreme warm periods, glaciations) in Earth history.
The boundaries between geological periods often mark major losses of biodiversity, i.e., mass extinctions. Geochemistry is used to investigate these events, both to determine the trigger for the event (asteroid/comet impact, volcanism) and the event’s cause (abrupt warming, anoxia, trace metal poisoning, loss of habitat by sea-level fall, etc.). For the Cretaceous-Paleogene event, although the trigger is well established to be asteroid impact, the kill mechanism is less clear, and trace metal poisoning may have played a role. For the end-Permian, evidence for oceanic anoxia and the spread of sulfidic waters into the photic zone is widely associated with the extinction horizon in marine sediments. Detailed studies of the spatio-temporal distribution of geochemical and isotopic proxies together with numerical simulations of these events is leading to a clearer picture of the cause and consequence of mass extinction in Earth history.