Laura Peterson has been a professor in the Environmental Studies program since 2008, and is also affiliated with the Chemistry department. As an Earth scientist with a research background in paleoclimatology and paleoceanography, her interests include climate science and the history of the Earth system. Some of her course topics include Environmental Geology, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, and Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet. She also teaches field geology courses as part of Luther's Earth & Environment in Italy study abroad program.
Peterson's research entails generating records of past changes in ocean temperature in order to understand how the climate system has changed over the last several million years, which in turn is one way to provide insight into current and future climate behavior under anthropogenic influence. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Peterson and student researchers are currently at work generating a 6 million year long record of sea surface temperature change in the southwest Pacific Ocean, the first of its kind from this region.
Fedorov, A.V., N.J. Burls, K.T. Lawrence, and L.C. Peterson, 2015. Tightly linked zonal and meridional sea surface temperature gradients over the past five million years, Nature Geoscience, v. 8, p. 975-980, doi: 10.1038/ngeo2577.
Herbert, T.D., G. Ng, and L.C. Peterson, 2015. Evolution of Mediterranean sea surface temperatures 3.5-1.5 Ma: Regional and hemispheric influences, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 409, p. 307-318, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.10.006.
Herbert, T.D., L.C. Peterson, K.T. Lawrence, and Z. Liu, 2010. Tropical ocean temperatures over the past 3.5 million years, Science, v. 328, p. 1530-1534, doi: 10.1126/science.1185435. (pdf)
Cleaveland, L.C. and T.D. Herbert, 2009. Preservation of the alkenone paleotemperature proxy in uplifted marine sequences: a test from the Vrica outcrop, Crotone, Italy, Geology, v. 37(2), p. 179-182, doi: 10.1130/G25148A.1
Cleaveland, L.C. and T.D. Herbert, 2007. Coherent obliquity band and heterogeneous precession band responses in early Pleistocene tropical sea surface temperatures. Paleoceanography, v. 22, PA2216, doi:10.1029/2006PA001370.