(March 8, 2016) -- Marina Suarez, assistant professor of geology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. It includes a $478,000 grant to support her top-tier research in paleoclimatology.
Suarez’s passion since childhood has been dinosaurs. In 2011, a new species of dinosaur, Geminiraptor suarezarum, was named after her because she discovered it at a site in Utah with her twin sister and fellow paleontologist, Celina Suarez. The animal lived 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, a critical time in Earth’s history.
“The Cretaceous Period is really cool because it was this big transition from an archaic terrestrial ecosystem to something more modern,” she said. “During this time, we had more diversification in flowering plants, which had never been seen before. Then we started to get birds and more modern mammals. It was a really important time for life.”
During the Cretaceous, many of the dinosaurs seen in the Jurassic Park films were roaming the Earth. There wasn’t any ice on the Earth’s poles, and submarine volcanic eruptions caused dramatic climate fluctuations.
“What I’m really interested in is how the climate has changed, and how the Earth functions with high levels of carbon dioxide,” Suarez said. “I’m also going to get into how the Earth comes back to equilibrium from these extreme conditions, and how that effects life.”
The period also saw the planet’s climate fluctuating between wet and dry conditions. This led to the formation of isolated environments that Suarez calls “genetic islands,” wherein new species of plants and animals formed in very specific conditions.
“For plants, temperature and precipitation are very important,” Suarez said.
She plans to study Cretaceous rocks in Utah, China, Spain and Texas. Many of the rocks found in San Antonio are from the same period.
“These fossil soils are fascinating because there’s an interaction of many different processes,” she said. “If you can understand them, you can work back toward understanding the climate of the Earth millions of years ago.”
Suarez also hopes her research will impact current studies on climate change, an issue of considerable concern to world leaders.
“If you want to know how the Earth is going to function in these more extreme conditions, we need to know how the climate has behaved in the past,” she said. “You really have to go millions of years back in time.”
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Geological Sciences.
Learn more about the NSF CAREER Award.
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.
Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
This conference focuses on trending themes among toda's rural communities. The UTSA Institute for Economic Development, South-West Texas Border SBDC Network and Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center hosts the annual event.
New Braunfels Civic Center, New Braunfels, TX
San Antonio area high school and undergraduate students who participated in UTSA’s TRiO Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search and McNair Scholars programs will present their summer research projects and compete for top honors at the 8th annual symposium.
H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
This event guides seniors and graduate students on the last phase of their college career and prepares recent alumni within one year of graduation for the world of work. Workshops and sessions will provide information on interview skills, job search strategies and networking.
Student Union, University Career Center, 2nd floor, Main Campus
The gala brings together UTSA alumni, friends and guests to celebrate the association's 41 years of scholarships, services, programs and the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.
Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio
Dozens of fun and free events to welcome new and returning Roadrunners.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Join Roadrunner Nation for this season's home opener versus Big 12 foe Baylor. Come early to tailgate then cool off inside the Alamodome and enjoy cheering on your 'Runners!
Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.