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Elizabeth Niespolo, Assistant Professor of Geosciences

Research Summary:  Niespolo combines field work with applications in isotope geochemistry to anchor climatic, fossil, and archaeological records to precise timescales and in relation to environmental changes. The “tool kit” of her group emphasizes radioisotopic dating with additional activities in light stable isotope geochemistry, petrology, field geology, and archaeological excavation. A major focus of her research addresses outstanding questions on the timing and tempo of human evolution, including the development of modern human behaviors and the timing of global-scale human colonization. Other research foci include using petrology and isotopes to understand paleoenvironments, crustal processes, development of new isotopic applications, and in situ measurements to investigate geochemical heterogeneity in natural materials. Niespolo is setting up a laser ablation ICP-MS and U-series geochronology laboratory at Princeton.

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Elizabeth Niespolo
Assistant Professor
of Geosciences

Biography:  Elizabeth Niespolo is an Assistant Professor in Geosciences. She is also Associated Faculty of the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI), a member of the Executive Committee for the Certificate in Archaeology program (Art & Archaeology), and is a Research Associate with the Human Evolution Research Institute (HERI) based at the University of Cape Town (South Africa). Elizabeth completed her undergraduate study (2009) at the University of California Berkeley with a double major in Astrophysics and Classics. After traveling for field work, and teaching, she returned to school to complete a M.S. (2014) in Geology at California State University Long Beach and a Ph.D. (2019) in Earth & Planetary Science at Berkeley. She is from Oakland, California

Related News: 

Discarded ostrich shells provide timeline for our early African ancestorsThe Leakey Foundation (2021)

How a geochronologist learns to “read rocks,” The Human Evolution Research Institute (HERI) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) (2020)

In The News


Happy Holiday Greetings!
Dec. 20, 2011
Wishing you a happy holiday! From the Staff at the Department of Geosciences.
Princeton Undergraduate Geosciences Society (PUGS) invite middle school students to learn about Earth Science
Dec. 14, 2011
This past Thursday, December 8, 2011, local middle school students from the Community House After School Academy (CHASA) came to Guyot Hall to learn a bit about Earth science.
Research on erratic climate relied upon as expert commentary
Dec. 13, 2011

Over the weekend, research fellow Claudie Beaulieu (AOS), was interviewed on Canada's national public broadcaster Radio-Canada “Les années lumières” weekly scientific radio show.

Princeton Undergraduate Geosciences Society holds first meeting
Dec. 5, 2011
The Princeton Undergraduate Geosciences Society (PUGS) will be holding its first meeting on Dec. 9 at 3:30pm in Guyot 155.
Postdoctoral scholar Kevin Lewis to join NASA's latest Mars mission
Nov. 30, 2011
Postdoctoral scholar Kevin Lewis has been selected to join the team of NASA's latest Mars mission, the Curiosity rover. Having launched successfully over Thanksgiving weekend from Cape Canaveral, Curiosity begins a 9 month journey as the largest and most complex rover ever sent to the red planet. After landing next summer, the rover will begin a 2-year long exploration of its landing site at Gale crater in search of past or present habitable environments.
Chair Bess Ward to receive 2012 Procter & Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Nov. 30, 2011
Department Chair Bess Ward has been selected to receive the 2012 Procter & Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology of the American Society of Microbiology. This award recognizes distinguished achievement in research and development in applied (non-clinical) and environmental microbiology.
Graduate Student Symposium showcases the holistic nature of Geosciences
Nov. 21, 2011

On Friday, November 11, the graduate students in the Department of Geosciences hosted a collaborative Graduate Research Symposium at Lewis Library. Sponsored by the Department of Geosciences and the Princeton University Graduate School, but organized exclusively by the graduate students, the symposium was intended to showcase the holistic nature of the geosciences by encouraging contributions in atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology, Earth history, climate dynamics, geology, geoche

Spring Term Courses 2011-2012
Nov. 14, 2011
The spring term schedule is available for download on the Geosciences "Courses" tab.


More recent articles - 2011

Undergrad/grad-led meeting to discuss new Geosciences Club, field seminars, and opportunities in the Department of Geosciences
Sept. 30, 2011
All undergrad majors and graduate students in the Department of Geosciences are welcome to attend a "Capstone Field Seminar Planning Session" to be held this Wednesday, October 5, at 4:30 PM, in the Guyot Great Hall.
In the open ocean, eukaryotes matter!
Sept. 26, 2011

In the first of work of its kind, Princeton Geosciences graduate student Sarah Fawcett has forced a partial reversal against the prokaryote-dominated paradigm of the open ocean and, in the process, showed one important way in which the genetic diversity of the plankton relates to functional diversity (that is, not all the phytoplankton are doing the same thing!). In a recent paper, Fawcett and her colleagues show that small eukaryotic phytoplankton are far more important for taking up upwelled n

Geosciences graduate students conduct lab tours at orientation
Sept. 16, 2011
Graduate students, Kyle Samperton, Xuefeng "Nick" Peng, and C. Brenhin Keller give a lab tour of the Princeton Isotope Geochemistry Lab to first year graduate students at orientation.
Geosciences orientation greets new students from dawn to dusk
Sept. 16, 2011
On Tues., Sept. 13, the Department of Geosciences started its academic year by greeting new students with a breakfast in the Great Hall at Guyot. This was followed by educational presentations throughout the day; and then, an inviting outdoor picnic at the grove behind Eno Hall.