Meet the Scientist: Chiara Borrelli

January 27, 2020

Name: Chiara Borrelli
Institution: University of Rochester
Place of Residence: Rochester, New York, USA

What kind of science do you do?
I am a paleoceanographer. Through the analysis of the chemical and isotopic composition of very tiny organisms called foraminifera, I aim to answer questions related to past changes in ocean circulation and chemistry, climate, and sedimentary biogeochemical cycles.


How did you find out about the society?
I learnt about the society when I attended my first Goldschmidt conference in 2014.

If at all, is the society beneficial to your studies? Your personal life? Why?
Of course! I regularly check the society website for news and the Goldschmidt conferences are among my favorite venues to present my research and to network with old and new colleagues.

What is the most interesting thing about your field of research?
To me, it is truly fascinating being able to study Earth's climatic history using the remains of small organisms. In addition, my research brought me to locations that I would never have dreamt of visiting, like Svalbard.

Why do you think your field of work is pertinent to the world of geochemistry?
Paleoceanography and geochemistry are strictly connected. I like to think about sedimentary records like books of historical geology - the information about Earth's (climatic) history is written in there, but we need the right tools to decipher the language. Measuring and interpreting the geochemical clues preserved in sedimentary records is one of the approaches we have to read these 'books' and to gain a more profound understanding of how our planet works.

What is one obstacle in your field of work that you wish you could overcome?
I think that one of the biggest obstacles in my field of work (but not only) is the scarcity of funding. But this is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome. You just have to try!

What is one unique memory you have from working in your field of study?
Diving in the submersible Alvin!

If you could discover one thing in the entire world, what would that be?
This is a very hard question – there are so many things that we do not know! That said, I would be really curious to know more about the genetics of biomineralization in foraminifera and how (and if) this has changed through geological time.

If you could meet anyone, past or present, who would that be and why?
I have never had the chance to meet Wally Broecker or Harry Elderfield, two titans of my field– I would have loved to chat about science with them!