Graduate Students

Lindsay MacKenzie

Lindsay MacKenzie

PhD 2015, Sedimentology, Geochemistry, Taphonomy

Office: CHCB 103

Personal Summary

Geology and paleontology have always piqued my interests and I'm lucky enough to be able to work in both fields.  I recieved my B.Sc in Solid Earth Geology from Purdue University and from there travelled to Edmonton, Alberta where Iearned my M.Sc in Vertebrate Paleontology.  My Master's research focused on the dentitions of acanthodians and chondrichthyans from the Early Devonian Man on the Hill (MOTH) locality in the Northwest Territories of Canada.  This fossil site is important due to the excellent preservation and diversity of the fishes found there.

My current research allows me to study another excellent fossil deposit, the Early Cambrian Chengjiang Biota in China.  I am focused on understanding the factors allowing for the excelllent preservation of the fossils and how this site differs from others.  My main advisor is Nancy Hinman, but I also work closely with Michael Hofmann and George Stanley in order to understand the many factors controlling the preservation of these fossils.  I am excited to apply the knowledge obtained in this project to other fossil deposits in order to better understand the factors controlling fossilization.

I developed a love for fishes during my Master's work and cannot help myself from looking at various species wherever I go, even if it's outside a restaurant in China.


2015 - PhD in Geosciences, Geosciences Department, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, USA. "Using a combination of sedimentology, geochemistry and experimental taphonomy to determine the preservation of the Chengjiang Biota". Advisor: Nancy Hinman.

2008 - MSc in Systematics and Evolution. Departmen of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. "Dentition of the Eugnathostomata from the Lochkovian (Early Devonian) of the Mackenzie Mountains, Northwest Territories, Canada." Advisor: Mark Wilson.

2004 - BS in Solid Earth Sciences. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.

Research Interests

I recently finished my PhD with Dr. Nancy Hinman, looking at the taphonomy of the Early Cambrian Chengjiang Biota in China.  The Chengjiang is an Early Cambrian fossil deposit, found in the Maotianshan Shale, showing excellent preservation of a wide variety of organisms depicting the "Explosion of Life."  The fossils are similar to those of the Burgess Shale, in British Columbia, Canada, but are about 15 milllion years older, and have not undergone metamorphosis.  

Taphonomy is the study of the processes an organism undergoes from death until discovery, and can include burial, decay and fossilization.  For my dissertation I am using a combination of geochemistry, sedimentology, mineralogy, and paleobiology to determine the conditions which account for the excellent preservation of the diverse fossil assemblage of the Chengjiang Biota.

In the future I hope to apply the techniques used in my dissartation to better understand the factors controllign exceptional presrevation throughout geologic time.

Looking at the sedimentology of the fossil-bearing layers containing the Chengjiang Biota with my field assistant Adam Johnson.

Doing geological fieldwork overseas means bringing plenty of bags in which to bring back samples!


Field of Study

Sedimentology, Paleontology, Geochemistry, Taphonomy



Selected Publications

Hofmann, M. H., Li, X.H., Chen, J., MacKenzie, L.A., Hinman, N.W. in press. Provenance and temporal constrain of the Early Cambrian Maotianshan Shale, Yunnan Province, China. Gondwana Research

MacKenzie, L.A., Hofmann, M.H., Chen, J., Hinman, N. W. 2015. Stratigraphic controls of soft-bodied fossil occurrences in the Cambrian Chengjiang Biota Lagerstatte, Maotianshan Shale, Yunnan Province, China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 420: 96-115.

Blais, S.A., MacKenzie, L.A., and Wilson, M.V.H., 2011, Tooth-like scales in Early Devonian eugnathostomes and the 'outside-in" hypothesis for the origins of teeth in vertebrates: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, v. 31, p. 1189-1199.


2012 - Geological Society of America Research Grant, recognized for exceptional merit in conception and presentation of student research grant application

2010 - Society of Vertebrate paleontology student travel grant for John Day Basin Field Symposium

2010 - Scholarship for the International Geobiology course

2009 - National Science Foundation – East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes in China Research Award

2009 - University of Montana Bertha Morton Fellowship

2009 - Sigma Xi – Grants in aid award

2009 - International Association of GeoChemistry Student Research Grant

2007 - International Association of GeoChemistry Student Research Grant

2007 - University of Alberta Department of biological Sciences Teachin Commendation

2007 - University of Alberta J. Gordin Kaplan Graduate Student Award

2005 - Province of Alberta Graduate student Scholarship

Teaching Experience

University of Montana

  • Instructor – Introduction to Geology                                  Winter 2013, 2014        
  • Teaching Assistant – Natural Science                              Spring 2012
  • Teaching Assistant – General Geology Laboratory             2007-2011
  • Grader – Oceanography                                                  Spring 2011
  • Grader – Earth History and Evolution                                Spring 2008, 2009
  • Grader – History of Life                                                   Spring 2009
  • Tutoring a blind student– General Geology Laboratory       Spring 2009
  • Tutoring a blind student– General Geology Lecture            Fall 2010

University of Alberta

  • Teaching Assistant - Introduction to Vertebrate Diversity    Fall 2004, 2005, 2006
  • Teachins Assistant - Comparative Anatomy                      Spring 2005, 2006, 2007
  • Guest Lecturer - Paleobiology of Lower Vertebrates           Fall 2006      

Purdue University

  • Teaching Assistant - Historical Geology                           Spring 2003       

Professional Experience

2011 - present: X-ray Diffraction Laboratory Technician. Department of Geosciences, The University of Montana.

2014: "Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences" short course.

2012: Sedimentology and Paleontology of the MOTH field site, Mackenzie Mountains, NWT, Canada.

2010: International Geobiology Summer Field Course, Agouron Institute.

2010: Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Field Symposium 2010. John Day Basin Field Conference, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (and surrounding basin), Oregon, USA.

2010: PANalytical X-Ray Diffraction Training Course.

2009: National Science Foundation – East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes

2009-2012: Research assistant to Nancy Hinman, "Exploration of Mineral Associated Bio/organic Signatures: Meeting the Challenge in the Search for Signs of Life".

2008: Museum Technician, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.


I have many hobbies including: horseback riding, skiing, hiking, camping.

Riding my horse, Romeo