Dr Michael Rampino , Associate Professor of Biology, New York University
My research spans many areas of the earth sciences, especially the inter-relationships between the Earth's changing environments and the evolution of life. A major long-term project involves the causes of mass extinctions, including the end-Cretaceous extinction 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs and many other forms of life died out. The evidence for a large asteroid or comet impact at that time led to work on a general theory of large-body impacts and mass extinctions, research into impact cratering and its environmental effects and into the possible astronomical causes for periodic comet showers in Earth's history. This work has taken me to impact craters and geologic boundaries on six continents. Recently, I have been focusing on the causes of the Permian/Triassic mass extinction (250 million years ago)—the most severe mass extinction of life—with field studies in Europe, Japan and South Africa. Dr Rampino is currently Associate Professor of Biology at New York University. He received his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Columbia University in New York City in 1978. He has been with NYU since 1985 and is also a Research Consultant at NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies. From 1980 to 1985 he was an Associate Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University based at the Goddard Institute, and from 1978 to 1980 he held a post-doctoral research position at Goddard under Dr Robert Jastrow.