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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

Final Public Oral Examination for Nicholas L. Swanson-Hysell
Sept. 15, 2011

Final Public Oral Examination for Nicholas L. Swanson-Hysell

“Stratigraphic Records of Paleogeography and Global Change from Two Late Proterozoic Basins”

The examining committee members are
Adam Maloof, Blair Schoene
Gerta Keller and Michael Bender

A copy of the dissertation is available for

On the passing of Dr. Donald Baird, longtime curator of the Princeton Natural History Museum
Aug. 25, 2011
Curator of natural history at the New Jersey State Museum and Princeton alumnus David Parris ’70 has notified the Department of Geosciences that Dr. Donald Baird, a longtime curator of the Princeton Natural History Museum, has passed away.
Aug. 24, 2011
EXPLORE THE EARTH OPENHOUSE poster and announcement: A date has been set for the Department of Geosciences fall open house on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 from 2:00-3:00 p.m., at Guyot Hall, in the Great Hall.
Prof. Jeroen Tromp statement on yesterday's Virginia earthquake posted on PrincetonU Facebook
Aug. 24, 2011
Published on the Princeton University Facebook account this morning was Prof. Jeroen Tromp's statement on yesterday's Virginia earthquake. Appearing along side the statement was a Global ShakeMovie documenting the earthquake and an array of comments coming in from all facets of Facebook life.
Global ShakeMovie reporting on today’s Virginia 5.8 magnitude earthquake
Aug. 23, 2011
Global ShakeMovie reporting on today’s Virginia 5.8 magnitude earthquake.