John Groves, assistant professor of geology, (319) 273-3072
James O'Connor, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Grants received by a University of Northern Iowa professor will enable him to continue research on possible survivors of a major mass extinction.
John Groves, assistant professor of geology at the University of Northern Iowa, has received a three-year grant of nearly $50,000 from the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the $8,700 W. Storrs Cole Memorial Research Award for 2002 from the Geological Society of America. The latter award is given annually in recognition of research excellence in the field of micropaleontology.
The money will be used to support Groves' research on whether or not a particular group of microfossils survived a major mass extinction, when almost all life on earth was wiped out, at the end of the Permian system about 250 million years ago. Groves says his research goal is to document which species became extinct and which survived, and then speculate on why the survivors lived.
Groves visited Turkey each of the past two summers in order to collect microfossil samples from the critical rock interval associated with the mass extinction. He explains that the particular phenomenon he is researching is found in a belt extending from Greenland through the Alps, into the Himalayas, and into south China. Rocks above the boundary that mark the event contain few fossils, but rocks directly below the boundary contain a normal amount of fossils. The ACS grant will enable Groves to visit the southern Alps in Italy next summer to expand the geographical range of his collections.
Part of the three-year grant will provide funding for undergraduate research. Currently, junior geology major, Matthew Boyce of Cedar Falls is assisting Groves with the laboratory preparation of the microfossils.