Matthew L. Staitis

Matthew L. Staitis


I am a geoscientist that utilises litho-, bio-, and chemostratigraphy to identify and investigate the biotic and environmental changes associated with past climate events in the geological record. My research specialises in the application of foraminiferal micropaleontology and geochemistry to better resolve early Cenozoic abrupt warming events known as ‘hyperthermals’. My PhD is based within the School of Environmental Sciences and the Stable Isotope Laboratory (ENVSIL) at the University of East Anglia, under the supervision of Dr Mark Chapman, Dr Nikolai Pedentchouk, Prof Paul Dennis, and Dr Alina Marca.

I graduated with a BSc Honours in Geology from the University of Glasgow, before undertaking a MScR Palaeontology and Geobiology at the University of Edinburgh. While there, I worked between School of GeoSciences and University of St Andrews Isotope Geochemistry (STAiG) lab under the supervision of Prof Dick Kroon and Dr James Barnet. I received specialist training in petrophysics and downhole logging, through my participation in the 5th ECORD Summer School: Downhole-Logging for IODP Science. I am affiliated with The Geological Society of London (GSL), The Micropalaeontological Society (TMS) and the International Association of Sedimentologists (IAS). I am also a Web & Social Media officer for the UK Paleoclimate Society.

Matthew L. Staitis

PhD title: A geological analogue for the future: the rapid climatic warming 56 million years ago

As one of several ‘Paleoclimate Reference Periods’ in the latest IPCC AR6 report, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM): a period of abrupt global warming ~56 million years ago, provides one of the best analogues for investigating the impact of anthropogenically released carbon on the Earth system.

Previous research has primarily focused on the comparison of independent palaeontological or geochemical records from different PETM sites which introduces increased uncertainty from the influence of local processes, preservation, and age constraints.

Therefore, there is currently a paucity of PETM records that integrate palaeotemperature and palaeontological data, specifically from shallow marine settings that are particularly sensitive to the rapid climatic and biotic changes associated with the PETM excursion.

This project will use material collected from the Kheu section in the Caucuses to reconstruct the impacts of PETM sea surface and bottom water temperature change using a multi-proxy approach: (i) foraminiferal population data, (ii) δ18O, (iii) Mg/Ca, and (iv) Δ47.

The findings of my PhD research will contribute to our growing understanding of identifying the climatic and biological responses to abrupt global warming events like the PETM in the stratigraphic record.


    Barnet, J. S. K. et al. A high-resolution chronology of biological pump recovery following the K/Pg mass extinction. In preparation.

    Judd, E. J. et al. The PhanSST global database of Phanerozoic sea surface temperature proxy data. In preparation for Scientific Data.

    Staitis, M. L. et al. Investigating Deccan-induced environmental changes, prior to the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) mass extinction. In preparation for Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology.


  • Faculty of Science Studentship (£17,668 p.a.) 2022-2025.
  • Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) (£1000 p.a.) 2022-2025.
  • UK-IODP student travel bursary (£130 p/n) 2nd-3rd November 2022.


  • UK-IODP Workshop 2022 An Introduction to Scientific Ocean Drilling – How does Scientific Ocean Drilling work and what is it good for?, National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS), 2nd-3rd November 2022, (workshop & poster).
  • Short Course in Geochronology 2022, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), 2nd-5th May 2022, (workshop)
  • Geochemistry Group Research in Progress Meeting, online, 22nd June 2021, #GGRiP2021 (talk).
  • Progressive Palaeontology 2021, online, 18th June 2021, #ProgPal2021 (full talk) [Available at:].
  • Climate Change in the Geological Record, online, 27th May 2021, #GSLClimate21 (flash talk) [Available at 2:57:09 at:].
  • Virtual GA Student Symposium (vGASS) 2021, online, 21st May 2021, #vGASS21 (talk) [Available at:].

Awards and prizes

  • GASS2021 Best Talk winner (May 2021) – who spoke on “Investigating Deccan-induced environmental changes, prior to the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) mass extinction”.
  • University of Glasgow School of Geographical and Earth Science Mineralogical Society Prize 2018-19 (September 2019) – Outstanding performance in mineralogy in the penultimate year of the Earth Science Degree.
  • CREST Awards GOLD (September 2015)- For the project, The Composition and Significance of a Deep-Water Fauna of Fossil Shells from the Ordovician Period.
  • University of Glasgow School of Geographical and Earth Sciences – Geography Summer School Field Notebook Prize July 2015.


Other information

Causal Research Assistant at the Lyell Centre

Hired for up to 12 weeks to assist in the picking and processing of a large sample set of planktonic foraminifera across the Last Glacial Maximum (i.e., Globigerinoides ruber) for organic carbon isotopes, under the supervision of Tommaso Paoloni; a PhD student of Prof Babette Hoogakker at Heriot Watt University. Alongside learning further sample preparation and cleaning techniques, I gained expert insight into the use of a Single Quadrupole Trace 1300 Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer/Flame Ionization Detector (GC-MS/FID) to better assess the amount of lipids (such as alkenones) present inside the foraminiferal organic membrane.

Quality control (Q/C) volunteer on the PhanTASTIC project   

Volunteered to take part in the PhanTASTIC (Phanerozoic Technique Averaged Surface Temperature Integrated Curve) project, led by Dr Emily Judd; a postdoc of Dr Jess Tierney at the University of Arizona. Undertook quality control (Q/C) checks on collated foraminiferal δ18O stable isotope datasets, which involved checking for errors between the collated datasets and the raw data taken from the original publications and importantly flagging up if any dataset exhibited signs of diagenesis.