Geosciences at Virginia Tech

Adjunct Faculty

Michal J. Kowalewski
Adjunct Professor of Geobiology

3061C/D Derring Hall
+1.540.231.5951 (Phone)
+1.540.231.3386 (FAX)

Mailing Address:
4044 Derring Hall (0420)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Ph. D., 1995, University of Arizona, Tucson
M.S., 1990, University of Warsaw, Poland


Awards and Fellowships

Professional Service and Recognition

Research Interests

I focus on processes at the interface between the biological and geological sciences and collect data over a wide range of spatio-temporal scales. Projects range from non-applied studies devoted to theoretical paleobiology to more applied investigations in conservation biology and environmental sciences. The key themes include taphonomy, evolutionary paleoecology, and conservation paleobiology. Statistical approaches (especially computer-intensive strategies such as bootstrapping) are the underlying methodological theme, including development of quantitative methods for exploring and assessing empirical data retrievable from the geological record.

Keywords: Paleoecology, Taphonomy, Morphometrics, Ichnology, Computer-Intensive Statistical Methods, Lingulid Brachiopods, Benthic Mollusks, Drilling Predators, Trace Fossil Makers, Modern Macrotidal/Deltaic Environments of Baja California, Mexico, Holocene History of the southern Brazilian shelf, Miocene Marine Bioprovinces of Europe, Paleozoic Fossil Record of Parana Basin, Brazil


Earth and Life through Time (Geos 1014)
Paleontology (Geos 3604)
Quantitative Paleobiology (Geos 5374)
Morphometrics (Geos 5384)
Taphonomy Field Course (Zool 577 - Friday Harbor Labs)
Predation Field Course (Biol 533 - Friday Harbor Labs)

Recent Funding

National Science Foundation (EAR) (2009-2012) website under constr.
National Science Foundation (OCE) (2006-2009) project homepage
Petroleum Research Fund (2004-2006)
Virginia Water Resources Research Center (2004-2005)
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2003, 2005)
National Science Foundation (EAR) (2002-2003)

Students and Post-Docs

Post-doctoral researchers
Claudio de Francesco (2007)
John Huntley (2007-2008)
Richard Krause (2006-2007)
Yurena Yanes (2005-2007)
Daniele Scarponi (2003-2005)

Former students

John Huntley (Ph.D., 2007) (Post-Doctoral Researcher, Virginia Tech)
Susan Barbour Wood (Ph.D., 2006) (Assist. Prof., East Carolina U.)
Richard Krause (Ph.D., 2006) (Humboldt Research Fellow)
Jennifer Stempien (Ph.D., 2006) (Post-Doctoral Resercher, UC Boulder)
Michelle Casey (M.S., 2005) (Ph.D. Student, Yale) (co-advisor: N. Fraser)
Megan Brown (M.S., 2004) (Instructor, Virginia State University)
David Rodland (Ph.D., 2003) (Assist. Prof., GWU)
Alan Hoffmeister (Ph.D., 2002) (Assist. Prof., SUNY Oswego)
Monica Carroll (M.S., 2001) (Research Technician, Illinois)
Matthew Powell (M.S., 2000) (Assist. Prof., Juniata College)

Current students
Jackie Wittmer (Ph.D. candidate, since 2009)
Majken Schimmel (M.S. candidate, since 2008)
Amy Smith (Ph.D. candidate, since 2007) (co-advisor: N. Fraser)
Carrie Tyler (Ph.D. candidate, since 2007)
Troy Dexter (Ph.D. candidate, since 2006)
Peter Voice (Ph.D. candidate, since 2005)


  1. Kelley, P. H., Kowalewski, M. and Hansen, T. A., eds. (2003) Predator-Prey Interactions in the Fossil Record: Topics in Geobiology Series, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, xvi + 464pp. (ISBN: 0-306-47489-1).
  2. Kowalewski, M., and Kelley, P. H., eds. (2002) The Fossil Record of Predation: Paleontological Society Special Papers, v. 8, Paleontological Society, Yale Printing Service, New Haven, CT, 398pp. (ISSN 1089-3326).

Selected Recent Publications

  1. Kowalewski, M.,  Kiessling, W., Aberhan, M., Fuersich, F.T., Scarponi**, D., Barbour Wood*, S.L., and Hoffmeister*, A.P. (2006) Ecological, taxonomic, and taphonomic components of the post-Paleozoic increase in sample-level species diversity of marine benthos. Paleobiology 32: 533-561.
  2. Kowalewski, M., Hoffmeister, A.P., Baumiller, T.K., and Bambach, R.K. (2005) Secondary evolutionary escalation between brachiopods and enemies of other prey. Science 308: 1774-1777.
  3. Kowalewski, M. (2004) Drill holes produced by the predatory gastropod Nucella lamellosa (Muricidae): Paleobiological and ecological implications. Journal of Molluscan Studies 70:359-370.
  4. Kowalewski, M., and Rimstidt, J. D. (2003) Lifetime and age spectra of detrital grains: toward a unifying theory of sedimentary particles. Journal of Geology 111:427-440.
  5. Kowalewski, M., Simões, M.G., Carroll, M., and Rodland*, D.L., (2002) Abundant brachiopods on a tropical, upwelling-influenced shelf (Southeast Brazilian Bight, South Atlantic). Palaios 17:277-286.
  6. Kowalewski, M., Gürs, K., Nebelsick, J.H., Oschmann, W., Piller, W.E., and Hoffmeister, A.P. (2002) Multivariate hierarchical analyses of Miocene mollusk assemblages of Europe: Paleogeographic, paleoecological, and biostratigraphic implications: Geological Society of America Bulletin 114:239-256.
  7. Kowalewski, M., Avila Serrano, G.E., Flessa, K.W., and Goodfriend, G.A. (2000) Dead delta's former productivity: Two trillion shells at the mouth of the Colorado River. Geology 28:1059-1062.

Selected Recent Publications of Students/Post-Docs

  1. Huntley, J.W., and Kowalewski, M., (2007) Strong coupling of predation intensity and diversity in the Phanerozoic fossil record. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 104: 15006-15010.
  2. Brown, M.E., Kowalewski, M., Neves, R.J., Cherry, D.S., and Schreiber, M.E. (2005) Freshwater mussel shells as environmental chronicles: Geochemical and taphonomic signatures of mercury-related extirpations in the North Fork Holston River, Virginia. Environmental Science and Technology 39:1455-1462.
  3. Scarponi, D., and Kowalewski, M., (2004) Stratigraphic paleoecology: Bathymetric signatures and sequence overprint of mollusk associations from the upper Quaternary sequences of the Po Plain, Italy. Geology 32: 989-992.
  4. Krause, R.A. (2004) An assessment of morphological fidelity in the sub-fossil record of a terebratulide brachiopod. Palaios 19:460-476.
  5. Rodland, D. L., Kowalewski, M., Dettman, D.L., Flessa, K. W., Atudorei, V., and Sharp, Z. (2003) High resolution analysis of delta-O-18 in the biogenic phosphate of modern and fossil lingulid brachiopods. Journal of Geology 111:441-454.
  6. Carroll, M., Kowalewski, M., Simões, M.G., and Goodfriend, G.A., (2003) Quantitative estimates of time-averaging in brachiopod shell accumulations from a modern tropical shelf. Paleobiology 29:382-403.
  7. Powell, M.G., and Kowalewski, M. (2002) Increase in evenness and alpha diversity through the Phanerozoic: Comparison of Early Paleozoic and Cenozoic marine fossil assemblages. Geology 30:331-334.
  8. Hoffmeister, A.P., and Kowalewski, M. (2001) Spatial and environmental variation in the fossil record of drilling predation: A case study from the Miocene of Central Europe. Palaios 16:566-579.

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