Dr Oscar Branson

Research Fellow
Researcher - Biogeochemistry
 +61 2 6125 9965

Profile

Biography

Education

  • 2014 PhD Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
  • 2010 MSc Oceanography, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
  • 2009 BSc (Hons) Biology, University of Bristol

Employment History

  • Sept 2016 -                  Research Fellow, ANU
  • July 2014 - July 2016   Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Davis

Research

Research interests

My research focuses on developing and applying novel, complementary techniques from material science and geochemistry to advance our fundamental understanding of the formation and dissolution of biominerals, the controls on their trace element composition, and their role in the oceanic biogeochemical response to past and future climate changes. Recent examples of this include using Atom Probe Tomography (APT) measure the atom-scale chemistry of biological templating structures embedded within carbonate biominerals, and using Synchrotron X-Ray Microscopes to measure the distribution and chemical state of boron and magnesium in the calcium carbonate shells of foraminifera. These experiments advance our fundamental understanding of bio-mineral interactions in biomineralisation, and probe the mechanisms behind two important palaeoceanographic proxies: the Mg/Ca palaeothermometer, and the B-based carbon system proxies.

My current research focuses on the biomineralisation of marine calcifying organisms, with specific interests in:

  1. Biological and mineralogical influences on the 'recording' of palaeoceanographic proxies.
  2. The role of organic components in controlling intra-skeletal chemical heterogeneity.
  3. The geochemical impacts of metastable precursor phases during biomineralisation.
  4. The sensitivity of marine calcifiers to climate change.

This involves laboratory-based mineral precipitation experiments, LA-ICP-MS and solution ICP-MS chemical measurements, Nano-SIMS and Atom Probe Tomography chemical mapping, synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopy, diffraction and imaging techniques, and extensive field work and culturing of foraminifera, coraline algae and coral specimens.

Publications

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