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Academic Appointments

2019-Present: Postdoctoral research associate, Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona

Education History

2015-2018: PhD, Geosciences, University of Adelaide       

2014: Honors, Geosciences, University of Adelaide                                            

2011-2013: B.Sc., Geosciences, University of Adelaide

I am a research scientist in the Department of Geosciences working with Dr. Barbara Carrapa on geochemistry and tectonics of the Western USA and Central Asia. I am interested in physical processes involved in the formation of mountain topography. One can look at mountains and assume that they are static, however over million-year time scales they are a hugely dynamic and inter-connected system that represents the current expression of the ongoing evolution of our planet. In order to understand the topography of mountains, I focus on three lines of research: 1) The chemistry of minerals and rocks and how that changes in response to geological processes, 2) structure and tectonics, or how the topography changes as a result of plate interactions, and 3) the interaction between mountains and the global climate. Through mentoring and research, my work seeks to improve our understanding of Earth’s surface evolution; but also to provide a basis to a range of Earth sciences applications such as mineral exploration, past and modern climate, even the spread of society.

Research group members: Welcome


PhD candidate - January 2020-Present

I am a PhD student working with Dr. Barbara Carrapa to study the tectonic evolution of the southwestern region of the North American Cordillera. I combine sedimentology with geochronology and low-temperature thermochronology to understand paleodepositional environments and the tectonic evolution of sedimentary basins. Currently, I am researching

the depositional history of the McCoy Mountains Formation in southern California and Arizona to constrain the mechanisms and role of tectonics on basin development. In addition, I am working to constrain the timing of Laramide-style deformation in Wyoming using synorogenic sedimentary deposits from the Moncrief Formation and basement rocks from the Bighorn Mountains. 

When I'm not out in the field or in the lab, I enjoy sipping coffee, hiking, and volunteering with local animal rescues. 

Research group members: About


PhD candidate

Research group members: Courses

August 2020 - Present

Caden Howlett (PhD student) is integrating traditional field-based geology and low-T thermochronology to determine the magnitude and timing of crustal shortening in the southern central Andes.  In addition, he is working to constrain the timing of Laramide-style deformation in central Montana, USA.  In both regions, new data will be used to create and/or test tectonic models for the evolution of Cordilleran-style orogenic systems.
During free time, Caden enjoys climbing mountains, skiing (not so much since moving to sunny AZ; not complaining!), rafting, playing kendama, reading, and writing.  He created and runs a science and philosophy discussion forum with >100k followers (




August 2022 -

Hi! I am working alongside Dr. Barbara Carrapa to reconstruct the Miocene Climate Optimum (MCO) continental climate record in the Central Andes. I integrate both geological and geochemical records of climate variability across the MCO to provide insights into the mechanisms driving this prolonged warming event. From these insights, we can better understand mechanisms of global warming, its relationship with CO2, and inform future climate predictions.

I am also committed to advocating for equity, accessibility, and justice to be at the center of geoscience research, discourse, and policy through an intersectional approach. In my downtime, I enjoy reading poetry, painting, running, and cooking Salvadoran food with friends and family.

Research group members: Publications



August 2020 - Summer 2022 (graduated!)

Hello! I am a first year masters student in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona and my focus area is in structural geology. I’m currently working on structural analysis of the Maria Fold and Thrust Belt to look at the overall tectono and thermal evolution of the region located along the border of California and Arizona. The main ranges I’m focusing on are the Little Maria Mountains, Mule Mountain and parts of the McCoy Mountains. I’ll also be applying low temperature thermochronology to the hanging wall of these structures to determine timing of exhumation as a proxy for the timing of deformation in the region. Other than hiking out in the middle of nowhere, some of my hobbies include reading, writing, playing tennis, and hanging out with my very large family!

Research group members: Publications
Research group members: Members_Page
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