Student Vignettes

Kara Vadman

About my research

My Ph.D. research utilizes the geologic record to advance our understanding of ice-ocean interactions taking place in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. I am conducting a study of the water column temperatures near the Totten Glacier System, which drains one eighth of the interior of East Antarctica via the Aurora Subglacial Basin. I utilize a variety of sedimentologic, micropaleontologic, and geochemical tools such as diatom assemblages, foraminifer stable isotopes (d13C, d18O), and foraminifer (Mg/Ca) and organic (TEX86) paleothermometry. These proxies allow us to develop a history of ocean warming in the region over the past ~16,000 years and enable us to determine the role that warm water masses have on ice-sheet stability. This research is relevant today because ongoing warming is destabilizing Antarctica’s marine-based ice sheets, resulting in global sea-level rise.


I chose the College of Marine Science for graduate school because of the opportunity to continue studying Antarctic marine geology and paleoceanography with Dr. Amelia Shevenell. At CMS, I have expanded my analytical capabilities in the lab, improved my scientific writing skills, mentored undergraduate researchers, and conducted outreach in the community. Because CMS is a marine science institution that houses biological, physical, chemical, and geological oceanographers on our small, waterfront campus, it is easy to seek out interdisciplinary perspectives from fellow classmates and professors. St. Petersburg is also host to a number of other marine science institutes and agencies (USGS, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Florida Institute of Oceanography), which offer further collaboration and career opportunities.

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