Study of Ancient Earth Makes News

Posted on 08.23.2015

"Illinois is becoming one of the strongest campuses in the country for paleo-related research." A story in the LAS Newsletter notes the newfound focus on "paleo"earth for research in statistics, biology, atmospheric sciences and anthropology as well as geology. It goes beyond paleontology and looks for ways to apply past earth's lessons to today.

Feng Sheng Hu, head of the Department of Plant Biology and member of the Department of Geology, hasorganized a lectureship in honor of Tom Phillips, professor emeritus of paleobotany, in part to recognize Phillips’s vast contributions to the field, but also to help highlight the growing paleo-related programs at Illinois. Andrew Knoll, a highly respected paleobiologist from Harvard University who has called Phillips his “hero,” will be the first lecturer, on October 30.

"Interest in climate change is fueling much of the growth in paleo-related fields." Steve Marshak, Director of SESE adds, however, that there are other factors raising interest in the paleosciences. For example, the question of whether there’s life on Mars is adding intrigue to what the earliest life on Earth looked like. There’s also interest in ancient mass extinctions, and whether the extinctions of recent years means that modern Earth is actually in the midst of a so-called “Sixth Extinction.”