Claudia C. Johnson
Associate Professor of Geological Sciences
- Ph.D., 1993, University of Colorado, Boulder
- M.S., 1984, University of Colorado, Boulder
- 1982, University of West Indies, Jamaica, Coral Reef Ecology Course
- B.A., 1981, University of Colorado, Boulder
- 1979, Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico, Study Abroad Program
The focus of my research is to evaluate evolutionary processes in the paleotropics. The tropical reef ecosystem provides the empirical database that I analyze using statistical methods. I then synthesize patterns and processes affecting reef evolution and demise, and evaluate the biotic changes in the context of the tropical ocean-climate system. At present, I examine reefs that evolved under Cretaceous “greenhouse”, Pleistocene “icehouse” and Oligocene transitional climate states.
Questions driving my research initiatives include the following: Why do biotic replacements of one group by another occur in tropical ecosystems? What are the rates and magnitudes of the replacements, and what are the processes involved? Will a similar biotic replacement occur in our future reef ecosystem as we move toward a “greenhouse” state?
As Distinguished Lecturer for the Paleontological Society, I’ve had the privilege of disseminating my research results to 17 institutions in three countries across geology, biology and geography departments.
I am the recipient of three major NSF grants on the subject of ancient ocean-climate systems, and I co-edited two research volumes and numerous papers on the topic. The peer-reviewed, federally funded grants demonstrate the significant support received for my Geobiology research program. Currently, two Ph.D. and two M.S. students are studying integrated geological aspects of the paleoocean-paleoclimate system. My graduate students received grants from The Paleontological Society, Sigma Xi, the Geological Society of America and the Latin American Foundation, as well as additional private and federal agencies.
My research area is focused in the Caribbean region, and my students and I pursue field investigations in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Barbados. We travel to museums such as the National Museum of Natural History, the Paleontological Research Institute, and the Texas Memorial Museum to acquire specific paleontological specimens for research.
The future focus of my work is to understand the complexity of paleobiologic and ecologic factors that combined to allow the reef ecosystem to persist over 600 million years of Earth's history. With this knowledge, I anticipate that I will be able to make predictions about the future health of our modern reef ecosystem.
- G114, Dinosaurs and their Relatives
- G334, Principles of Sedimentation and Stratigraphy
- G404, Geobiology
- G410, Undergraduate Research in Geology
- G561, Paleoecology
- Evolutionary Paleoecology
- Form, Function and Evolution
- Evolution of Ecosystems
- Evolution of Reefs
- G690, Reefs and Global Change
- G588, Paleobiogeography
Graduate seminars and team-taught courses
- G700, Oligocene Reefs
- Geologic Problems: Interpreting Paleoclimatic Tools
- Cenozoic Climate Variations
- Cretaceous Ocean-Climate System, co-taught informal graduate seminar
- Processes Influencing Earth's Surface
Theme 1: The Holocene
Theme 2: Origins and Envelope of Life
- Marine Micropaleontology and Paleoceanography
- Stratigraphic Linkage between Continental and Marine Records of Cretaceous Climate Change
My philosophy and basic teaching methodology is to work with students through the levels of learning, from memorization of facts through comprehension, analysis and synthesis of disparate data sets, in order to demonstrate that there is a tangible process to learning science. My goal is to bring scientific research information to the classroom, and to develop informative, interactive classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. A subsidiary goal is to provide field training to students in order that they may pursue independent studies for graduate degrees. My research emphasis on reefs lends itself easily to these goals, for reefs have immediate name recognition and provide a diversity of geologic topics for discussion and investigation from empirical and theoretical aspects.
At the undergraduate level I teach geology courses to both non-science students and geology majors. I’ve supervised the completion of at least five undergraduate research projects for Undergraduate Research in Geology in which the scientific method and the importance of data collection, analysis and interpretation were emphasized. In the past years I’ve been involved with the IU STARS program for which I worked with a student researcher in my laboratory, interviewed students for the program, and judged year-end poster presentations.
At the graduate level I teach courses that are related to my research, and team-teach seminars and courses that require information integrated from paleontology, geology and related scientific fields such as chemistry, physics and biology. A recent course resulted in an abstract co-authored by the class participants, a poster presentation for the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, and a manuscript in review for a peer-reviewed journal.
Recent Research Projects
Graduate Student Projects
Ecology and ichnology of a Early Pennsylvanian tidal flat
An integrated multidisciplinary approach to evaluate the effects of environmental fluctuations on Late Cretaceous reef ecosystems, Caribbean Region
Quantification of taphonomic processes and low preservation potential of chitons (Mollusca, Polyplacophora): Applications and implications for interpretation of the fossil record
Carbonate sedimentology of an Oligocene reef ecosystem, Puerto Rico
Undergraduate Projects and Opportunities
Opportunities exist for laboratory research to address questions related to reef evolution or reef ecology. In-house samples from Pleistocene, Oligocene and Cretaceous scleractinian corals and for Cretaceous rudist bivalves can be utilized for undergraduate research projects.
Puchalski, S. S., and Johnson, C. C., in press. Preservation potential of Katharina tunicata and Mopalia muscosa (Mollusca, Polyplacophora) on two rocky shores of San Juan Island, Washington, USA. Lethaia. DOI 10.1111/j.1502-3931.2008.00125x
Elswick, E. R., and Johnson, C. C., (2009, in press) A siliciclastic diamictite from the Maya Mountains, Belize. Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 35 ms pp.
Puchalski, S. S., Johnson, C. C., Kauffman, E. G., and Eernisse, D. J., in press. A new genus and two new species of multiplacophoran chitons, Mississippian (Chesterian), Indiana, Journal of Paleontology, 28 ms pp, 7 figs.
Johnson, Claudia C., 2008. Association of paleoenvironment and evolutionary grade of reef constructors through the Phanerozoic. Abstract, 2008 Joint Meeting Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Assoc. Geol. Societies with Gulf Coast Section SEPM.
Budziak, A., Beeker, C. de Leon, R., Johnson, C., and Kauffman, E., 2008. From barrels to augers: Managing a transition in the mooring buoy systems of Bonaire National Marine Park. Abstract, International Coral Reef Symposium, Reefs for the Future, July 7-11, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Please note: even though I’m third author, I initiated the research presentation, wrote the abstract and prepared the entire poster. I also co-presented the poster at the conference.
Puchalski, S. S., Eernisse, D. J., Johnson, Claudia C., 2008. The effect of sampling bias on the fossil record of chitons (Mollusca, Polyplacophora). American Malacological Bulletin 25, p. 87-95.
Kauffman, Erle G., and Johnson, Claudia C., 2009. Cretaceous warm climates. In, Gornitz, V., Editor, Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments, Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series, Springer, p. 213-217.
Johnson, C. C., and Kauffman, E. G., 2007. Notes on the Perkins Rudist Collection at PRI. American Paleontologist, vol. 15, no. 3, p, 21, Not listed on 2007 FSR
Hirano, H. and, Co-Editors, 2003, Land-Ocean Interactions of Carbon Cycle and Bio-diversity Change during the Cretaceous in Asia, Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, Special Issue V. 21, Issue 8, p. 803-977.
, 2002, The Rise and Fall of Rudist Reefs. American Scientist, v. 90, p. 150-155.
, Sanders, D., Kauffman, E.G., and Hay, W. W. 2002, Patterns and processes influencing Upper Cretaceous reefs. In Kiessling, W., Flugel, R., and Golonka, J (eds.) Phanerozoic Reef Patterns. Society for Sedimentary Geology, Special Publication 72, p. 549-585.
, and Kauffman, E. G., 2002, Cretaceous evolution of reef ecosystems; A regional synthesis of the Caribbean tropics. In Stanley, G. D., Jr. (ed.) The History and Sedimentology of Ancient Reef Ecosystems. Topics in Geobiology Series, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, p. 311-349.
Awards and Honors
Academic Honors and Awards
The Paleontological Society, Distinguished Lecturer, 2000-2002, 2002-2004
Fulbright-Hays Award to Peru 1986 (declined award for Univ. Puerto Rico Instructorship)
Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Honorable Mention, co-authored paper, 1984
American Association of University Women, Boulder Branch Award, 1991, 1990
Association for Women Geoscientists Award, Denver Chapter, 1994
Federal Research Grants
NSF EAR 0224868, $20,382,, 7/1/2002-6/30/2003. Title: Sequence stratigraphy and paleocommunity analysis of an Oligocene reef tract, Lares Limestone, Puerto Rico.
NSF EAR 0203452, $15,000,, 12/31/2001 - 6/30/2002. Supplemental award.
NSF EAR 0074603, $75,000,, 8/1/2000 – 6/30/2002. Title: Comparative role of scleractinian corals and ancient rudist bivalves in Cretaceous reefs: Implications for changes in reef composition in a future greenhouse world.
NSF EAR 9418081, $200,000,, E.J. Barron, M.A. Arthur, 2/95-12/97. Title: Testing the hypothesis of a Cretaceous supertropical climate zone in the Caribbean Province: Do climate simulations and observational data support the concept of tropical stability?
Other Grants and Awards
Paleontological Society Research Grant-in-Aid, 1993, 1989
Geological Society of America Research Grant, 1989, 1988
Zena Hunter Andrews Fellowship, University of Colorado, 1992, 1991
Graduate School Protected Class Fellowship, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1987
Graduate School Dean's Small Grant Award, 1991-1987, 1983
Department of Geological Sciences Competitive Research Grants, 1989, 1988, 1983
Longley-Wahlstrom-Warner Award, University of Colorado, 1991
Research Assistantships: Gulf, Arco, Amoco, Marathon, Shell
Academic Scholarship, University of West Indies, Jamaica, 1982
Teaching Awards and Recognitions
Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana University, 2000
Fellow, Faculty Learning Program, Indiana University 2004 to present
My interest in teaching extends beyond the college classroom to the greater geologic community and to the general public interested in geology. Many of my service-related works to professional societies and communities are oriented toward educational activities.
Departmental service includes membership in the Graduate Committee, Chair of the Owen Award Committee, Faculty Advisor for Sigma Gamma Epsilon and Departmental Representative for Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. Beyond the departmental level, service for Indiana University includes sponsoring Dr. W. W. Hay as an External Academic Visiting Fellow in 1999 through IU's Institute for Advanced Study, participating in the Honors Division Exploring Majors Series and in the Careers in Geology Program for IU’s JobTraks initiative. I've worked with a group to develop the science curriculum for IU’s Global Village Living and Learning Community, and participated in the selection process for the Cox Scholars Program. Professional society service includes committee membership on the Research Grants Committee of the Geological Society of America, Panel Member for the Earth Science Post-Doctoral Research Fellowships Program, a two year membership on the Paleontological Society Strimple Awards Committee and as noted above in the Research section, Distinguished Lecturer for the Paleontological Society.
In our local Bloomington community my students and I participate in Wonderlab's Fossil Days Program, the Kids Coalition Event in Salem, Indiana, the Fossil Event for the Science Olympiad, and the IU-sponsored Brownie Math and Science Event for the Girl Scouts. I am the contact person for Paleontology and Geobiology on our departmental website, and through this position I am able to answer 20-30 questions per year from local fossil collectors, teachers, parents and children.
Sample preparation laboratory and associated equipment; namely, thin section lab, rock saws, polishers, & shale washing and processing facilities * Microscopes, including a SMZ1500 Zoom Stereo Optical Microscope with a 0.75x to 11.25x zoom range (15:1 zoom ratio) and a DXM 1200 digital camera all attached to a Dell OptiPlex GX400, Pentium 4 with 1.0 GB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive.
SEM, cathodoluminescence, organic geochemistry laboratory, and mass spectrometers are also available to geobiological researchers
Specimen repository; teaching and research collections; extensive fossil collections from Indiana and beyond
Access to field vehicles
A dedicated, extensive geology library in the building - one of the most comprehensive geology libraries in the nation