Michael Urban Michael Urban

Ph.D. student


I am a Ph.D. in the Program of Ecology, Evolution and Conservation. My educational background includes an M.S. in Botany from the University of Wyoming along with B.S.'s in Ecology and Geology from the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally I have strong interests in the history and philosophy of science, which has permeated much of my work. The focus of my present research is on evolution and expansion of C4 grass and grassland biomes from the Eocene to the Miocene (~37 to 5 million years BP) and how it relates to the evolution and diversification of mammalian grazers. I am using a novel technique called SPIRAL (Single Pollen Isotope Ration AnaLysis), devised in the Hu lab, in order to differentiate individual C3/C4 grass pollen grains. This allows me to utilize pollen assemblages extracted from Tertiary sediment to pinpoint the origin of C4 grasses and map out their expansion and dynamics on a number of continents while correlating with the mammal fossil record and independent climate records. I also have a secondary project dealing with the phylogeography of the western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) in its beginning phase.

updated 08/06/2013