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Ryan Manzuk

Department: Geosciences
Faculty Adviser: Adam Maloof
Year of Study: G4
Undergraduate School: University of Chicago
Undergraduate Major: Geophysical Sciences

Personal Bio

I am originally from Greenfield, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. During my undergraduate years, I split my extracurricular time between running the 400 meter hurdles for the track team and doing my thesis research, which focused on quantifying morphological differences between species of fossil trilobites. I am so grateful to be doing my graduate work in Princeton because it is a place where I feel surrounded by excellent and talented people, but at the same time, everyone I interact with is very approachable and down-to-Earth. This well-balanced atmosphere really makes Princeton a special place in my opinion. Once on-campus life resumes, you might find me going for a run on the tow path or trying to take pretty pictures of the buildings and trees on campus.

Fun Fact

Prior to starting my PhD, I spent 2 years living in Guinea, West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer. I still maintain a very close relationship with my host family and get to talk on the phone with them most weeks.

Research Pitch

As we look to predict the future of climate and life on Earth in the face of human impacts, our greatest source of information is the 4.5 billion year history preserved in rocks and fossils. My research aims to tell rich stories of animal evolution at moments of large-scale environmental and climatic change millions of years ago. Specifically, I investigate ancient reefs because they have been hot-spots of animal abundance and diversity for over 500 million years, but little is known about how reefs create biodiversity or how sensitive they might be to perturbations. My projects begin with field work, hiking and camping in the mountains, where I use drone photography and dGPS data to create a high-resolution geospatial framework for observations and samples. Back in the lab, I work with a one-of-a-kind serial grinding and imaging machine (https://giri.princeton.edu) to create 3D models of my samples to discover the structure of ancient reef surfaces and their potential to facilitate animal evolution and respond to climatic changes. At every step of my research, I am concentrating on making quality image data and analyzing those images with machine learning techniques to make unprecedented insights regarding Earth's environmental history as told by rocks.

Plans for Summer 2022

Confirmed pairing; no longer looking for a mentee.

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