Skip Navigation
*To search for student contact information, login to FlashLine and choose the "Directory" icon in the FlashLine masthead (blue bar).

Profiles Detail Page (Do Not Delete)

Alison Smith

Professor and Assistant Chair

Paleolimnology is the study of past terrestrial aquatic records. Here in the Geology Department at Kent State, the focus is on late Cenozoic records, especially those of Pleistocene and Holocene age.  Paleolimnology is a subject area with many specialties. My research areas include:

  • Ground water surface water interaction zones
  • Lakes as indicators of climate change
  • Environmental & paleohydrologic records of wetlands
Ostracodes (microscopic crustaceans) serve as a fundamental tool in all these areas of research. Nonmarine ostracodes live in most aquatic environments and produce bivalved calcite shells.  The shells are easily fossilized, with the result that nonmarine ostracodes are the primary calcite microfossil in continental records.   In order to better understand the ecological, climatic, and geochemical signature of ostracodes in the late Cenozoic fossil record, modern species must be studied for their environmental tolerances and biogeography.  A modern database of ostracode biogeography and environmental ranges (NANODe) is underway here, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Illinois Geological Survey.

My research program is centered on the development of the modern and fossil non-marine ostracode record as a tool in determining changes in water quality and climate through Holocene time.  I focus on the role of ground water-surface water interactions in mediating the terrestrial climate record, and in identifying paleohydrologic changes using the ostracode ecology and ostracode shell geochemistry. This program involves independent research as well as collaborative efforts with researchers at other institutions.  The general areas of this research program include:

  • Paleohydrology and Drought History on the Great Plains: Holocene climate records from lacustrine ostracodesHolocene Lake Level and Paleolimnology of the Great Lakes
  • Calibration of ostracode shell geochemistry (stable isotopes, trace elements) against hydrogeochemistry
  • Construction of a modern environmental dataset of limnologic/climate/ostracode distribution records in the continental U.S., designed for public access
  • Hydrology of springs and seeps using ostracodes as bioindicators.     
Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities
Selected Papers (see CV for full listing)

Smith, Alison J., 2012. Evidence of environmental change from terrestrial and freshwater paleoecology, Chapter 12, vol 1, IN ( Matthews, J. A. et al., Eds.) Handbook of Environmental Change, Sage Publishing.

Smith, Alison J. and Delorme, L.Denis, 2009. Ostracoda, Chapter 19, IN (Thorp, J. and Covich,A., Eds.) Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates, Third Edition, Academic Press,pp. 811-849.

Smith, Alison J., 2007. Century scale Holocene processes as a source of natural selection pressure in human evolution: Holocene climate and the Human Genome Project, The Holocene, v.17, no. 5, 689-695.

Donovan, J.J., Smith, A.J., Ito, E., Engstrom, D.R., and Panek, V., 2002. Quaternary Science Reviews 21/4-6,  pp. 605-624.

Smith, A.J., Donovan, J.J., Ito, E., Engstrom, D.R., and Panek, V., 2002. Quaternary Science Reviews 21/4-6 pp. 625-646.

Smith, A.J. and Horne, D., 2002. in The Ostracoda: Applications in Quaternary Research, Geophysical Monograph Series, edited by A. R. Chivas and J. A. Holmes, AGU Monograph Series, Volume 131, Ch.2, Washington, D.C.

Smith, A.J., Davis, J., Palmer, D., Forester, R., and Curry, B., 2003. Paleontology Society Special Papers, v. 9, pp. 203-222.

Research Areas
  • Paleolimnology
  • Micropaleontology
  • Holocene Climate Change

American Geophysical Union

American Quaternary Association: AMQUA council member 2002-2006

Geological Society of America

  • GSA Session Chair, 2005 Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City Session T-10: Chemistry, Ecology and Groundwater Hydrology of Lakes, Streams, Playas and Springs: Observations at the Interface
  • GSA 2003 Annual Meeting - Workshop Convenor (with Lisa Park, U.Akron), Paleontology Society Workshop, 2003 Bridging the Gap: Trends in the Ostracode Biological and Geological Sciences

International Quaternary Association: INQUA U.S. National Committee

  • USNC Member 2008-2011
    • Vice-Chair 2012-2015
Alison Smith
Department of Geology

Spring 2014 office hours:
McGilvrey Hall 219
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
9:45 - 11:00 am
or by appointment

Phone: 330-672-3709
Fax: 330-672-7949