Student Success Stories

Jennifer L. Cumpston

ShellJen Cumpston is a Doctoral student who likes integrative science with an international flavor. She began her studies at NIU after completing a B.A. in geography at the University of Illinois and working as an intern at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. Jennifer’s research is a unique combination of anthropology, archaeology, earth and ocean sciences, and aims to better understand paleoclimate and its effect on the ancient peoples of coastal Peru.

Jennifer has worked as a teaching assistant and an NSF-supported research assistant since her arrival at NIU in the fall of 2007. As part of her appointment she traveled to Peru and conducted research with a team of scientists from the Proyecto Arqueológico Norte Chico (PANC). This group includes scientists from the NIU Department of Anthropology and the Chicago Field Museum. Together with these colleagues, Jen participated in archeological excavations and collected mollusk shells that coastal-dwelling ancient peoples tossed aside after eating their contents. The record of paleoclimate that Jen will unravel is trapped in these shells in the form of oxygen isotopes.

View Jen's Slideshow

Dissertation Research

An analysis of oxygen isotopes from shells of Mesodesma Donacium as a proxy for paleoclimate and paleo-oceanic processes.

Abstracts and Publications

  • Cumpston, J.L. and Loubere, P., 2008, Testing theories on ENSO response to climate change: seasonal records of SST variation along the coast of Peru at key Holocene time periods: American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California.
  • Cumpston, J.L. and Loubere, P., 2008, Tracking ocean-atmosphere conditions in the eastern equatorial Pacific: shell preservation and the record: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Annual Meeting, Houston, Texas.