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Elizabeth Olson

Elizabeth Olson is a Ph.D. student with research interests in high-resolution geochemical proxies for climate change events on human time scales. Before coming to NIU, Elizabeth graduated summa cum laude with dual degrees in Geology and Anthropology from the University of Florida (2010) and completed her Master’s degree at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute (2013). While completing her Master’s research, she travelled throughout Peru participating in both geologic and archaeological investigations. This experience inspired her interests in South American climate records and, as a result, she began her Ph.D. at NIU in the fall semester 2013 where she is continuing her work with annual research trips to the Chilean Andes.

Under the guidance of Justin Dodd, Elizabeth is developing a 10,000-year record of water availability in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile using tree-ring isotope values. Since starting at NIU, Elizabeth has presented her research at the LOTRED-PAGES conference in Medellín, Colombia, thanks to funding provided by the Geology Department Goldich Fund. She also presented at the Goldschmidt Conference in Sacramento, California. This coming fall semester Elizabeth we be returning to the Atacama to conduct fieldwork with a team from NIU. During the field expedition she will be a part of a multidisciplinary project investigating groundwater geochemistry, fault-controlled groundwater circulation and Prosopis tamarugo dendroclimatology. In addition to these projects Elizabeth will be leading the team in coring peat bogs, which are locally called bofedales. The bofedal coring project will be funded in part by grants Elizabeth received in 2014, including a GSA Student Research Grant and the Tilford Field Studies Scholarship from the AEG Foundation.

In addition to opportunities abroad, Elizabeth plays an active role as a student in the department. Last year she served as a student advisor to the department chair where she helped organize student departmental involvement. She also served as the graduate assistant to the lab manager, allowing her to get hands on experience working with numerous analytical instruments, including the Thermo Scientific MAT 253 and Delta Plus XP mass spectrometers. This coming year Elizabeth will serve as the President of the Sigma Gamma Epsilon honors society that facilitates departmental service projects and community outreach. Elizabeth was also selected to represent the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on the 2014-15 Graduate Student Advisory Committee.

Thesis Research

Geochemical Proxies of Holocene Climate Change in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Publications and Abstracts

Olson, E., Dodd, J. and Rivera, M. 2014. Mid-Holocene Water Availability in the Atacama Desert, Chile Recorded in Tree Ring Oxygen Isotope Variability at the Ramaditas Archaeological Site: Evidence for Climate Change and Anthropogenic Landscape Alteration, PAGES (Past Global Changes) LOTRED-SA 3rd symposium on Climate change and human impact in Central and South America over the last 2000 years: Observations and Models Conference Abstracts with Programs, Medellín, Colombia.

Olson, E., Dodd, J. and Rivera, M. 2014. Holocene Water Availability in the Atacama Desert as Recorded by Seasonal Tree Ring Oxygen Isotope Variations, Goldschmidt Conference Abstracts with Programs, Annual Meeting, Sacramento, CA.

Olson, E., Emery, K. & Krigbaum, J. 2014. Head to Tail: Maya Dog Breeds and Diet, Midwest Mesoamericanist Meeting Abstracts with Programs, Annual Meeting, Dekalb, IL.

deFrance, S. and Olson, E., 2013. Late Prehispanic Coquina Quarrying and Tomb Construction in Coastal Southern Peru; Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology, Vol. 8(1), p. 3-16.

Emery, K.F., Cunningham-Smith, P., Olson, E.J. and Wing, E.S. 2012. Best in Breed: Digg on Site, 22-25.

Olson, E. 2011. Geoarchaeology of the Salinas de Chao Paleoembayment: Northeast Conference on Andean Archaeology and Ethnohistory Abstracts with Programs, Annual Meeting andover, MA.