The focus of our group’s research is the development and understanding of past records of environmental change, centred regionally in northwestern Canada and Alaska. In short, developing a robust framework for the evolution, controls and impacts of Arctic climate at timescales from the last few decades to the last few million years. We are particularly interested in permafrost and how it has responded in the past, and is responding today, to climate change.
Students and researchers who work in the lab study diverse problems using an equally diverse set of approaches- in short- we are far more topically-driven than strictly methodological. In keeping with this, much of our research is strongly interdisciplinary with ongoing collaborations with several groups working in evolutionary biology and ancient DNA, microbiology, geochronology, geophysics, geochemistry, soil science and paleoecology. Much of northern research, and in particular understanding past environmental changes, requires diverse points of view and these collaborations, including work with indigenous groups in northern Canada, provide our group with additional expertise to tackle these problems.
At present, I co-lead Theme 1 Characterization of Ground Ice within PermafrostNet where we are looking to develop better laboratory and field estimates of ground ice, and improve our understanding of how permafrost thaws at a landscape scale. Several students in my group work on this project, and it is a central activity of our newly built Permafrost ArChives Science Laboratory (PACS Lab). PACS is a $4M facility dedicated to the characterization and analysis of permafrost materials, including non-destructive methods (computed tomography and multi-sensor core scanning), clean labs for biogeochemical and ancient DNA sampling and extractions, and analytical facilities (elemental, isotopic and physical samples). The facility is a multi-user facility.