Two Geology Majors off to Vienna for Paleontological Research

Hannah Drummond '15 and Rudy Bentlage '16 have been awarded a research grant from CIIS to go to Austria over the winter break. They will be part of a project assessing the impact of human activity in the Persian Gulf called “Conservation Palaeobiology of oil-polluted tropical marine biota in the Arabian Gulf”.

They will spend a few weeks processing samples and collecting data on mollusks from five different sites around the oil fields in the Southern Arabian Gulf and now housed at the University of Vienna. Hannah and Rudy are trying to determine if oil exploration has changed the benthic communities by comparing recent assemblages to much older material representing a pristine environment and baseline for the project. To collect data they will measure bivalves and gastropods and look for traces of predation in the material; then they will learn statistical methods to meaningfully compare the modern data against the baseline data.  Their work will be part of an ongoing research project funded by the European Union and they will be working side by side with a group of established international researchers.