Enrique Del Castillo, 2019, Undeclared

I worked with the Maloof Group researching the relationship between reefs and the paleoenvironment during the Cambrian and Ediacaran periods. I focused on understanding the ecological conditions, structure, and biological relationships of Stromatolite/Thrombolite reefs from the Ediacaran period and Archaeocyath reefs from the Cambrian period. My research in particular involved Cloudina, a hardshelled tubular organism, which may have grown attached to a Stromatolite reef framework and hence have been the earliest metazoan reef builder. I assisted in the reconstruction process of Cloudina using a grinder machine and destructive tomography methods, and statistically described the reconstructed specimens in an effort to comprehend their morphology and growth patterns. Using statistical methods, I was able to determine the presence of at least three different subgroups with different anatomical properties within Cloudina conglomerations. Additionally, I helped constrain Cloudina’s temporal distribution by participating in the radiometric dating of various ash samples that bounded the occurrence of Cloudina fossils in the stratigraphy of the Nama Group in Namibia. My internship helped me develop a feeling for research in geosciences and showed me the power and importance of programming, spatial statistics, and image analysis techniques.