Bárbara Rodrigues de Almeida received her Master’s of Science degree in Geology at the Graduate School Commencement ceremony on Saturday, where she was recognized as a Spring 2021 Alumni Association Outstanding Master’s Graduate.
She has also been selected as the recipient of the Spring 2021 Richard G. Neiheisel-Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Endowed Graduate Award in Liberal Arts, Arts, and Sciences. This award was created in 1997 to honor the memory of Dr. Richard Neiheisel, a distinguished member of our History faculty, and is presented each semester to a graduating Master's student from one of the classical Arts and Sciences curriculum.
Her thesis advisor, associate professor Dr. Brian Schubert, praises her ability to complete the substantial laboratory analyses required for her thesis despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic.
“She has painstakingly dissected, by hand, 305 paper-thin slices of fossil wood collected previously from far northeastern Siberia, and dated to more than 5 million years ago. She then spent many weeks, alone in the lab, chemically purifying cellulose from these tiny samples in preparation for stable isotope analysis,” Schubert says.
From the hundreds of measurements she made, Bárbara produced a record that could be used to determine historical seasonal temperatures.
“She concluded that elevated CO2 levels millions of years ago caused substantial warming in the Arctic and led to longer growing seasons and a more moderate climate than today. These data support model results showing enhanced warming in Arctic regions in response to rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere,” Schubert says.
Bárbara virtually presented her work at the 2020 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, the world’s largest Geosciences gathering. She also presented at the 2021 Virtual LSU Shreveport Regional Student Scholars Forum in March.
With her thesis completed, Bárbara is preparing her research for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Bárbara is also known for her collegiality and service to the University and community.
“She brought everyone in the lab up, and never shied away from helping others, despite the incredible research load of her own,” Schubert says. “I certainly will miss Ms. Almedia’s leadership in the lab and at our weekly (virtual) lab meetings.”
Bárbara is a member of local and national geoscience organizations and was elected as the Vice President (2020 to present) and Social Chair (2019-2020) of the UL Lafayette Student Chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
She plans to return to her native Portugal and pursue work as a geochemistry technician.