Reed Scherer

Reed Scherer

Micropaleontology and Biostratigraphy
Office: 301A Davis Hall
Phone: (815) 753-7951


Microfossil Separation Lab

Educational Background

BS in Geology; Southampton College (Long Island University)

MS; University of South Carolina

Ph.D; The Ohio State University

Research Interests

Most of my research relates to history of the Antarctic ice sheet and other studies of climate change through time.

Research Activities >

Recent Publications >

Teaching >

Research Activities

I am, in essence, a micropaleontologist, but the arc of my career spans the spectrum from the smallest fossils (diatoms) to the largest fossils (dinosaurs).

Most of my research relates to history of the Antarctic ice sheet and other studies of climate change through time. I use assemblages of fossil diatoms (microscopic siliceous algae) as tools for evaluating these changes. My students and I work with diatoms in sediments recovered by stratigraphic drilling and piston coring along the Antarctic continental margin and the circum-Antarctic ocean, and sediments recovered from beneath the Ross Ice Shelf and grounded West Antarctic Ice Sheet. I also use diatoms as tracers of ice sheet processes, using the physical properties of diatoms to help evaluate sediment mixing and subglacial shearing in tills.

In addition to these projects I work on a variety of applications of diatom fossils as Pleistocene and Holocene paleoenvironmental tracers in both marine and non-marine settings, including projects in the Midwest.

My students drew me into the exciting world of dinosaurs, including research on Jane, Burpee Museum of Natural History's famous juvenile T. rex, and other significant finds from the Upper Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation in southeastern Montana, and a haul of Morrison Formation Jurassic fossils from Utah.  I’m also a Board of Trustees member of the Rockford IL museum.

Jeol JSM-5610LV Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope 

Byrd Polar Research Center

NIU Biological Sciences Vertebrate Paleontology, Ecology, and Evolution program

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Inititiative

Recent Publications

2012 Sjunneskog, C., Riesselman, C., Winter, D, and Scherer, R. Fragilariopsis diatom evolution in Pliocene and Pleistocene Antarctic shelf sediments. Micropaleontology. 58(3), 273-290.

2012 Konfirst, M., Scherer, R., Kuhn, G., and Hillenbrand, C.D., A marine diatom record from the Amundsen Sea – Insights into the response of West Antarctic oceanography and climate to the Mid-Pleistocene Transition in the West Antarctic sector of the Southern Ocean. Marine Micropaleontology. 92/93, 40-51. doi:10.1016/j.marmicro.2012.05.001.

2012 Wilson, G.S., Levy, R.H., et al., (Scherer, R.P.). Neogene tectonic and climatic evolution of the Western Ross Sea, Antarctica — Chronology of events from the AND-1B drill hole. Global and Planetary Change.

2012 Konfirst, M. A., Kuhn, G., Monien, D. and Scherer, R.P. The influence of siliciclastic input on Chaetoceros abundance in an early Pliocene segment of the ANDRILL AND‑1B drill core. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. V.346-347, pp. 87-94

2012 Konfirst, M.A. and Scherer, R.P. Low amplitude obliquity changes during the early Pliocene reflected in diatom fragmentation patterns in the ANDRILL AND-1B core, Marine Micropaleontology, 46, 82-83. Published, 10.1016/j.marmicro.2011.10.00.

2012 McKay, R., Naish, T., Powell, R., Barrett, P., Scherer, R., Talarico, F., Kyle, P., Monien, D., Kuhn, G., Jackolski, C. and Williams, T. Pleistocene variability of Antarctic Ice Sheet extent in the Ross Embayment, Quaternary Science Reviews, 34, pp. 93-112.

2011 Konfirst, M., Sjunneskog, C., Scherer, R., Doran P. A diatom record of environmental change in Fryxell Basin, Taylor Valley, Antarctica, late Pleistocene to present. Journal of Paleolimnology, 46(2): 257-272.

2011 Konfirst, M., Kuhn, G, Monien, D., and Scherer, R. Correlation of Early Pliocene diatomite to low amplitude Milankovitch cycles in the ANDRILL AND-1B drill core. Marine Micropaleontology, 80, 114-124.

2011 Fricker, H., Powell., R., Priscu, J., Tulaczyk, S., Anandakrishnan, S., Christner, B., Fisher, A., Holland, D., Horgan, H., Jacobel, R., Milkucki, J., Mitchell, A., Scherer, R., Severinghaus, J., Siple Coast subglacial aquatic environments: The Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling Project. In: Antarctic Subglacial Aquatic Environments, AGU Geophysical Monographs, Vol. 192, 199-219.

2011 Winter, D., Sjunneskog, C., Scherer, R., and Maffioli, P. Pliocene–Pleistocene diatom biostratigraphy of nearshore Antarctica from the AND-1B drillcore, McMurdo Sound. Global Planetary Change.

2011 Winter, D., Sjunneskog, C., Scherer, R., Riesselman, C., Maffioli, P., and Harwood, D. Diatom-based correlation of early to mid-Pliocene drillcores from the southwestern Ross Sea, Antarctica. Global Planetary Change, doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2009.12.004.

2011 Peterson, J., Scherer, R., and Huffman, K., Methods of microvertebrate sampling and their influences on taphonomic interpretations. Palaios, 26, 81-88.

2010 Peterson, J.E., Lenczewski, M.E., Scherer, R.P. Influence of Microbial Biofilms on the Preservation of Primary Soft Tissue in Fossil and Extant Archosaurs. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13334. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013334.

2009 Peterson, J., Henderson, M., Scherer, R., and Vittore, C. Face biting on a juvenile tyrannosaurid and behavioral implications. Palaios. 24: 780-784.

2009 Naish, T., Powell, R., Levy, R., Wilson, G., Scherer, R., et al. Obliquity-paced Pliocene West Antarctic Ice Sheet oscillation. Nature. 458, 322-328; doi:10.1038/nature07867

2009 Olney, M, Bohaty, S., Harwood, D., and Scherer, R., Creania lacyae gen. nov. et. sp. nov. and Synedropsis cheethamii sp. nov., fossil indicators of Antarctic sea ice? Diatom Research, 24(2) 357-375.

2009 Naish, T., Powell, R., Levy, R., Wilson, G., Scherer, R., et al. Obliquity-paced Pliocene West Antarctic Ice Sheet oscillation. Nature. 458, 322-328 (19 March 2009); doi:10.1038/nature07867

2009 Scherer, R. P., Bohaty, S., Dunbar, R., Esper, O., Flores, J., Gersonde, R., Harwood, D., Roberts, A., and Taviani, M. Antarctic records of precession-paced insolation-driven warming during early Pleistocene Marine Isotope Stage 31. Geophysical Research Letters. 35, doi:10.1029/2007GL032254.


On a regular basis I teach Introduction to Ocean Science (Geol 104), Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology (Geol 322), plus upper level and graduate courses in Invertebrate Paleontology, Micropaleontology, Scientific Writing and Presentation, and seminar courses in diatom paleoecology and biostratigraphy. I also direct internships in plaeontology at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.