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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Paleobiology

  • Caitlin Keating-Bitonti
  • Peter Buck Fellow
  • Phone:   202-633-1316
  • Fax:   202-786-2832
  • E-mail Address:   keating-bitonticat SI dot edu
  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 121
    Washington, DC 20013-7012
  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th & Constitution NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0121


Ph.D. Stanford University 2017
M.S. University of Wisconsin-Madison 2011
B.S. Syracuse University 2009

Research Interests

In my postdoctoral research, I apply models based on first principles of cell physiology to study foraminiferal size change preserved in the fossil record. At the same time I also study modern foraminiferal test morphologies to better understand their metabolisms and patterns of growth across diverse marine environments and, in particular, low-oxygen settings. I am currently undertaking two research projects. For the first project, I am applying physiological models to size measurements made on co-occurring fossil benthic ostracode (metazoan) and foraminiferal (protist) specimens collected from deep-sea cores to gain insights into their morphological responses to global climate cooling during the Eocene-Oligocene transition (30-40 Ma). Specifically, I am interested in understanding how the physiological responses of single-celled and multicellular meiofauna might differ to cooling seawater temperatures (e.g., passive or homeostatic response). For the second project, I am analyzing computed tomography (CT) scans of modern foraminiferal tests collected from a California Borderland Basin oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) to quantify test morphologies along a steep dissolved oxygen gradient. Using 3D images of these specimens, I will quantify total test volume and volume-to-surface area, individual chamber volumes, and chamber wall thicknesses, in addition to exploring test porosity. Select foraminiferal species that inhabit OMZs are facultative anaerobes and for this project I am interested in examining the morphological patterns of aerobic and anaerobic foraminifera along this oxygen gradient. In addition, I will work to develop physiological models for denitrifying foraminifera to predict their morphological response to local environmental shifts.