Research Profiles


Elizabeth A. Webb
Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences

Dr. Webb specializes in stable-isotope biogeochemistry focusing on the interactions among the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. She develops paleoclimate models based on the isotopic analysis of ancient plant materials (organic molecules and biogenic minerals like phytoliths) preserved in soils in order to learn about climate change and biogeochemical cycles with implications for carbon sequestration, water resource availability, fire frequency and ecosystem resilience in regions with high rates of natural or anthropogenic vegetation change. During a post-doctoral position at McMaster University she developed a procedure to identify residues of ancient maize preserved in humin, the oldest fraction of soil organic matter. This technique has been successfully applied to soils of the Maya sites of Minanha, Caracol and Motul de San Jose to distinguish soils that were used for ancient agriculture.

She has been an assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario since 2005 where she continues to use stable isotopes to investigate carbon preservation in soils, iron biomineralization in plants and climate signals preserved in the oxygen isotope composition of phytoliths. Within the department of Earth Sciences she teaches courses related to environmental science including a first year course “Resources, Environment and Sustainability in a Material Society”, a third year geochemistry course “Water and Geochemical Cycles” and a fourth year course “Isotope Geochemistry in Earth and Environmental Sciences”. She also offers two graduate courses in the application of stable isotopes to the study of low-temperature environmental systems. She is currently a member of the PAC for the Environment and Sustainability Graduate Program.

This page was last updated on October 9, 2009
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