Thomas DeCarlo Ph.D

College of Natural and Computational Sciences - Department of Natural Science




Ph.D., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 2016
B.A., University of San Diego 2012


Research Interests:

Sclerochronology, the study of patterns in the hard parts and skeletons of marine organisms, provides a window into the ocean’s past. My current research focuses primarily on banding patterns in long-lived tropical corals, including the microscopic pieces of skeleton formed each lunar month, annual density bands, and anomalous high-density “stress bands” that signify past extreme climate events. Skeletal cores collected from massive corals across the tropics have revealed previously unknown coral “bleaching” events pre-dating direct scientific observations, the increasing frequency of marine heatwaves in the Anthropocene, as well as evidence of acclimatization to a warmer world. But corals are just one branch in the tree of life. Clams, coralline algae, and even fish preserve intricate records of both their own growth history and the conditions in the ocean around them. Sclerochronology is the reading of those stories. At HPU, I will be seeking motivated students to work with me on various applications of sclerochronology to unraveling the environmental history of Hawai’i and beyond. These projects are inherently interdisciplinary as students will gain experience in oceanography, biology, petrology, and chemistry.


Teaching Interests:

Students learn in diverse ways, but everyone is most effective at learning when they are inspired and curious. I strive to accommodate a range of learning styles, while also using active teaching to create an exciting classroom atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoy working with students, especially helping them to pursue their own creative ideas and achieve their definition of success.



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