Dr. Stephen Kaczmarek
As a carbonate petrologist, I employ a wide variety of analytical instruments and scientific approaches to study the genesis of sedimentary carbonates. More specifically, nearly all of my projects aim to tackle fundamental scientific questions about the timing, environments, and processes responsible for dolomitization and calcitization of carbonate sediments. This work has broad implications for deep time geochemical proxy records and a wide range of industries. I conduct my research in the field and in the laboratory. The work requires a holistic and integrative approach that I have developed during my training in graduate school (Michigan State University 2000-2005), experiences as an industry researcher (ExxonMobil Upstream Research 2005-2011), as a university academic (2011-present), and as a journal reviewer and editor (Journal of Sedimentary Research 2015-present). I really enjoy my profession, especially working in collaboration with talented graduate and undergraduate students toward their goal of conducting impactful scientific research.
As lead of the CPCL, I am responsible for the mentoring, scientific training, and professional development of all team members. My goal is to help students find purpose in their work, and to assist them in their professional goals. The training that I provide is rooted in an authentic, hands-on approach to learning and developing competencies in the methods of science, effective written and oral communication, and research ethics. My approach is based on the desire to foster a community of scholars that are dedicated to honestly investigating the Earth through scientific inquiry. As a team lead, I value and promote being proactive and open to collaboration, and respecting one another and the process of scientific inquiry.
My approach to mentoring and training is student centered, and focused on producing graduates that are competitive in the professional world. This means that students are expected to work with me to develop a unique thesis project. They are expected to use and integrate various geological datasets, learn the theory and operation of a variety of analytical instruments, and work independently. I ask students to take ownership of their projects, to seek external funding to help support their efforts, and identify and pursue external collaborations so that they can connect to the broader scientific community.
Although students work on individual thesis projects, the CPCL team meets regularly to present and discuss research, professional opportunities, and how to be good citizens of the scientific community. The team dynamic is maintained through professional interactions, as well as off-campus activities that promote team cohesion through understanding and compassion for one another. Ultimately, I believe that people are most productive when they are happy and fulfilled in their professional lives. I have observed that such feelings come from a sense of being supported, respected, trusted, valued, and accepted as a team member. My goal is to give students agency over their success, and I believe this leads to happy, more competent, and productive scientists. Our work is challenging and demanding, so I strive to promote a work environment where all members can thrive, have fun, and be successful.
As a community of intellectuals, members of the CPCL are expected to practice:
PROFESSIONALISM: We strive to conduct ourselves in a professional manner while engaged in research and teaching.
RESPECT: We treat one another fairly and professionally. We assume competence, are motivated by knowledge, and bring unique and important perspectives.
INTEGRITY: We maintain the public trust by conducting our work in an ethical manner. Proper scientific conduct is expected from all team members. We strive for accuracy, clarity, precision, logic, and relevance in our work.
COOPERATION: We work collectively toward a common goal of answering fundamental scientific questions. We make an effort to learn about the research of others, and we contribute ideas and assistance when solicited.
COURIOSITY: We encourage ourselves and those around us to be intellectually curious about the world around us. Admitting ignorance, and asking questions are the only gateways to really learning.
EDUCATION: We mentor and guide one another in our shared endeavors whenever possible. This particularly applies to more experienced team members teaching those with less experience.
RECOGNITION: We practice intellectual humility by recognizing the ideas and contributions of others, including our peers, our scientific predecessors, our students, and other academics.
SKEPTICISM: We practice skepticism of data (observations) and interpretations (explanations), and are open to skepticism from others. Members are compelled to respectfully question data, interpretations, logic, and points of view so that true knowledge is gained.
HEALTH: We will keep ourselves healthy. We cannot practice good science and be helpful to our colleagues if we don’t take good care of our minds and bodies. The scientific enterprise is not more important than the people, and none of us will sacrifice ourselves for the work. We will take breaks, go for a walk outside, sit in meditation, play games, and prioritize friends, family, and hobbies.
Links to Learn More
Journal of Sedimentary Research:
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