Dept. of Earth and
Lane Hall, Room 003
Medford, MA 02155
Paleontology and Historical Geology
B.S. 2000 University of Chicago
M.S. 2003 University of California, Riverside
Ph.D. 2008 University of Georgia
The Dynamic Earth
Dr. Heim is a paleobiologist interested in reconstructing the history of
Earth's marine biosphere, including ongoing Anthropogenic change. Of particular
interest is understanding how that history was shaped by environmental, physiological,
ecological, and evolutionary processes. Dr. Heim analyses large databases, such as
the Paleobiology Database and Macrostrat, in order to develop robust, quantitative
trends across 600 million years of geological time. However, interpreting process
from large-scale trends is often difficult. To better understand the underlying
processes driving macro-scale trends, Dr. Heim uses local and regional scale field
studies to reveal the potential roles of environmental change and biotic interactions.
Although most of Dr. Heim's research is on fossil organisms, he is also interested
in quantifying Anthropogenic change of the recent past in order to predict how
biodiversity will change in the future. Ongoing projects include deploying large
databases of insect body sizes, ecological characteristics, and historical observations
to predict extinction risk, and quantifying change in species distributions and community
compositions that result from climate change, particularly in rocky intertidal environments
of the Pacific coast of North America.
The aim of my research is to understand the interactions between
the physical and biological Earth systems using data derived from
living organisms, fossils, and the sratigraphic record. The
principal driving questions are: How are biological signals filtered
through the stratigraphic record? How did past environmental changes
influence the diversity, abundance, and ecology of marine animals?
What is the role of physiology in structuring marine animal ecosystems
through time? Developing robust, quantitative trends across 600 million
years of geological time requires using large databases, such as the
Paleobiology Database and Macrostrat. I am also interested in field-based
paleobiology, particularly when it involves undergraduate students.
Research projects focus on local and regional scale extinction dynamics
and community paleoecology.