Raymond Bartolucci, 2017, Chemical and Biological Engineering

The two principle goals of our field research group were to collect geological samples of hard-bodied Ediacaran fossils (specifically Cloudina) for three-dimensional morphological analysis back at Princeton, and to observe the context in which these samples were found, in order to gain an understanding of the climatic environment in which these organisms lived. We contextualized the samples we took from two primary sites in southern Namibia by taking stratigraphic sections, creating digital elevation models through drone flights, and mapping the thrombolitic reefs in which Cloudina fossils were found. By being in the field for two months, I developed keen skills of observation and a better understanding of how different rocks formed and what different features may indicate about the paleoclimate of the region. The experience of camping and actually living in my research for two months was life-changing for me. It taught me how to go about planning and carrying out research, and also taught me the importance of truly observing and gaining a context for my subject. All of these skills will help me to continue analyzing the data from this trip back at Princeton, and to carry out my own research in the future.