(Aug. 6, 2019) -- UTSA geology assistant professor Alexis Godet has received more than half a million dollars to study the resilience of ancient reef systems to contribute to the understanding of the threats on modern reefs. Experts predict that 100% of coral reefs, the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems, will be threatened by 2050. Godet hopes to help reverse this trend.
Godet has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award of $550,462 to support his five-year project, “CAREER: Environmental forcing on the resilience of carbonate platforms during the Early Cretaceous super greenhouse period”. The funding will allow him to expand on his research into the impact of ancient environmental conditions on shallow marine ecosystems.
The UTSA researcher reports that about 75% of coral reefs are currently in danger due to human activity, pollution and climate change. He believes that studying the Earth’s history has the potential to identify mitigation processes for similar crises.
“About 120 million years ago, the atmospheric content of greenhouse gases increased dramatically. Under such conditions, reef ecosystems dominated by large bivalves either survived, adapted or disappeared,” explained Godet, who is an assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Geological Sciences. “This project will test the hypothesis that the resilience of reef ecosystems was favored at low latitudes by examining four locations along a transect from the ancient equator to subtropical latitudes. It will bring some insights about how modern ecosystems could adapt, or not.”
During the course of this grant, a total of five master’s students will conduct field work in France, Italy and Oman, while most of the laboratory work will be done on UTSA Main Campus. Godet and his students will gather rock samples to produce data (rock slabs, thin sections, pictures, geochemical data, etc.). Godet plans to integrate this new data into his teaching curriculum.
To complete the project, Godet will collaborate with researchers at UTSA, the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), the University of Ferrara (Italy), the University of Perpignan (France) and Texas A&M University, College Station.
The CAREER project also includes an educational component. Godet will train a diverse pipeline of future researchers in the geology field.
Each summer, over the next five years, two undergraduate students from the Alamo Colleges District will be invited to intern in Godet’s research group on the UTSA campus for one month. In total, 10 undergraduate students will get early research experience through the program.
“Diverse perspectives are so important to advancing science,” said Godet. “This will hopefully give the students a sense of belonging and will retain them in a geology major, a field of STEM with a pretty low diversity.”
Godet studies how carbonate rocks are formed (sedimentology) and how they have been transformed (diagenesis) since their deposition in ancient oceans. He is particularly interested in rocks dated back to the Cretaceous period. This CAREER project advances previous research Godet performed in Tunisia, where he studied the record of environmental changes during the same time-period and the impact on marine ecosystems.
In addition to this project, Godet will lead the university’s efforts to test, use and teach MOVE software at UTSA. This geological software will facilitate the study of the geometry of rock deposits in the subsurface while also helping UTSA students and researchers better identify underground fluids such as groundwater, oil and gas. UTSA received this in-kind software donation estimated at $2.2 million from Petroleum Experts, a European company.
The NSF CAREER Award supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Unlike most research grants, this award requires both strong scholarly research and a significant plan for education and mentorship. Godet joins four other UTSA faculty who recently were awarded an NSF CAREER Award, one of the NSF’s most prestigious programs.
Learn more about UTSA Department of Geological Sciences.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Roadrunner Days events welcome UTSA's newest students and helps our returning Roadrunners learn strategies for success in the new year.Various locations, Main and Downtown campuses
Join the UTSA contingent as we honor the memory and work of Martin Luther King Jr. in this citywide march. The City of San Antonio has sponsored this march on the east side of the city down MLK Drive since 1987.MLK Academy, 3501 MLK Drive, San Antonio
This exhibition, curated by Libby Rowe and Scott Sherer, presents the work of women artists who are compelled by their commitments to investigating and transforming social and cultural legacies and contexts.UTSA Art Gallery (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
UTSA will further honor King with the university's annual MLK Day of Service. Roadrunners are encouraged to participate in the service day, located in various locations, including helping to beautify campus.Various locations, Main Campus
Celebrating the Year of the Rat, the 33rd annual Asian Festival will feature a wide spectrum of Asian cultures with family-friendly events and performances. Enjoy authentic Asian foods with a menu including Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Pakistani, Chinese and Filipino cuisines. Vendors will sell clothing, artwork, dolls, silk items, jewelry and other exotic gifts.Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., San Antonio
Peniel E. Joseph, founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at UT Austin, will discuss his book “The Sword and The Shield,” which focuses on the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.Student Union, Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
The Heart Walk will be held at all three campus locations starting at the same time. Support Go Red for Women Day by wearing red.All UTSA campuses
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