PhD in Paleontology
My interest in Earth Sciences was initially sparked during my undergraduate studies in Life and Earth Sciences at the Lebanese University in Beirut, Lebanon. After graduating in 2015, I joined the Masters program Sedimentology, Paleontology and Paleoenvironments that is organized jointly by the ENS de Lyon and Claude Bernard University. Currently, I am a first year PhD student working on mechanisms of exceptional preservation in the Fezouata Formation (Lower Ordovician, Morocco). Explore my personal webpage, and feel free to get in touch with any questions.
Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon LGLTPE
Supervisors: Bertrand Lefebvre, Bernard Pittet, Jean Philippe Perrillat
October 2017 - now
This PhD is focusing on the exceptional preservation in the Fezouata Lagerstätte; trying to understand to which pre-mortem and post-mortem processes fossils were exposed using SEM-EDX, XRD, MS and both Raman and IR spectroscopy.
Masters 2 Internship
Supervisors: Bernard Pittet, Bertrand Lefebvre
January 2017 - June 2017
This research work provided a characterization of the sedimentological structures and depositional environments of the newly discovered Lagerstätten in Morocco. During this multidisciplinary work, I acquired new skills in paleontology such as the identification of graptolites and brachiopods as well as in geochemistry (SEM-EDX).
Masters 1 Internship
Supervisors: Bernard Pittet, Emanuela Mattioli
April 2016 - June 2016
This research internship consisted on describing and interpreting the sedimentary structures in Yorkshire, UK; thus, providing a better understanding of a complex dynamic system from the Jurassic that is dominated by waves and influenced by tides.
Peer reviewed articles
Storm induced community dynamics in the Fezouata Biota (Lower Ordovician, Morocco)
In the Central Anti-Atlas (Morocco), the lower part of the Fezouata Shale has yielded locally abundant remains of soft-bodied to lightly sclerotized taxa, occurring in low diversity assemblages characterized by strong spatial and taxonomic heterogeneities, and frequently, by the occurrence of small-sized individuals. Size frequency analyses of Celdobolus sp., Wosekella sp. (both linguliformean brachiopods) and Babinka prima (babinkid bivalve) collected in deposits of the Fezouata Shale and associated with distinct paleoenvironmental conditions show that short-lived communities of epifaunal and shallow infaunal taxa were regularly smothered and killed by distal storm deposits. Small-sized individuals more likely represent juveniles, rather than ‘dwarfed' adults (Lilliput Effect). Consequently, unstable environmental conditions (regular storms, and possibly low oxygenation of the water column) probably explain the unusual community dynamics of late Tremadocian assemblages of the Fezouata Biota (high density of individuals, low α-diversity, and high γ-diversity), interpreted as short-lived, opportunistic populations. This process has wider implications for the understanding of occurrences of small individuals elsewhere in the fossil record.
Orbital control on exceptional fossil preservation
Exceptional fossil preservation is defined by the preservation of soft to lightly sclerotized organic tissues. The two most abundant types of soft-tissue preservation are carbonaceous compressions and replicates in authigenic minerals. In the geological record, exceptionally preserved soft fossils are rare and generally limited to only a few stratigraphic intervals. In the Fezouata Shale (Lower Ordovician, southern Morocco), we found that deposits yielding pyritized soft tissues contain iron-rich silicate minerals. These minerals played a crucial role in inhibiting the decay of dead individuals and are comparable to those found in formations yielding carbonaceous soft parts around the world. Furthermore, we found that iron-rich minerals show a cyclic pattern of occurrence (of ~100 k.y. periodicity) implicating a short-period eccentricity control on iron availability through the general oceanic and atmospheric circulations. Our results identify, for the first time, an external climate forcing on exceptional preservation and show that orbital forcing may be a level-selective parameter responsible for the discontinuous occurrence of horizons preserving soft parts around the world.
The extinct echinoderm clade Stylophora consists of some of the strangest known deuterostomes. Stylophorans are known from complete, fully articulated skeletal remainsfrom the middle Cambrian to the Pennsylvanian, but remain difficult to interpret. Their bizarre morphology, with a single appendage extending from a main body, has spawned vigorous debate over the phylogenetic significance of stylophorans, which were long considered modified but bona fide echinoderms with a feeding appendage. More recent interpretation of this appendage as a posterior “tail-like” structure has literally turned the animal back to front, leading to consideration of stylophorans as ancestral chordates, or as hemichordate-like, early echinoderms. Until now, the data feeding the debate have been restricted to evaluations of skeletal anatomy. Here, we apply novel elemental mapping technologies to describe, for the first time, soft tissue traces in stylophorans in conjunction with skeletal molds. The single stylophoran appendage contains a longitudinal canal with perpendicular, elongate extensions projecting beyond hinged biserial plates. This pattern of soft tissues compares most favorably with the hydrocoel, including a water vascular canal and tube feet found in all typical echinoderms. Presence of both calcite stereom and now, an apparent water vascular system, supports echinoderm and not hemichordate-like affinities.
Talks and Posters
- Exceptionally preserved soft parts in echinoderms from the Fezouata Shale - IPC5 - Paris, France
- How does the skeleton influence the preservation of soft tissues? A case study from the Fezouata Biota - 16th IEC - Nagoya, Japan
- Selective taphonomic processes in the Fezouata Biota: storm influence on the brachiopod record - 61st PalAss meeting - London, UK
Masters in Geosciences, ENS de Lyon
September 2015 - June 2017
My Masters program focuses on sedimentology, paleontology and paleoenvironments. It regroups courses on geochemistry, paleonenvironmental reconstructions, siliciclastic sedimentology, paleooceanography, micro-analyses in-situ, ...
Bachelor in Life and Earth Sciences, Lebanese University
September 2012 - July 2015
During my bachelor, I had many courses in biology (histology, cytology, molecular biology, genetics, ...), chemistry (organic and inorganic, biochemistry,...) in addition to physics, mathematics and geology.
Lebanese National Baccalaureate, ESSTA
September 2011 - July 2012
This Baccalaureate focuses on biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics.
Autonomous on SEM-EDX/ XRD with experiences on Raman Spectroscopy and ICP-MS
Extraction of fossils; identification of graptolites and brachiopods; smear slides preparation; microfossils identification, general knowledge in trilobites identification
Log drawing; studying sedimentary structures of coastal environments (interaction between hydrography, topography, cycles and storm deposits)
MS Office; Adobe Illustrator; Adobe Photoshop; Past with a general knowledge of R, Python and MATLAB
Fluent in English, French and Arabic
Jan 2017 & Feb 2018: Paleontology and sedimentology of Lagerstätten, Zagora, Morocco
Nov 2016: Sediment Sampling from the Mediterranean, Marseille, France
Oct 2016: Sedimentology and paleontology of a mixed calcareous/siliciclastic environment, Carry Le-Rouet, France
Apr 2016: Sedimentology of an environment dominated by waves and influenced by tides, Yorkshire, UK
Sept 2015: Sedimentology of a siliciclastic environment from the proximal source to distal continental/marine interface, Alps, France
Sept 2015: Metamorphism field work, Occidental Alps, France and Italy
May 2015: Pedology analysis in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
May 2015: Ecology of a high latitude forest, Arz Al-Barouk, Lebanon
May 2015: Ecology and botany of Jabal Moussa reserve, Lebanon
May 2015: Ecology and zoology of a riverine ecosystem, Nahr El-Kalb, Lebanon
English for early scientists
Introducing Geology to mid-schoolers
Private Biology courses
Council member of the "Observatoire de Lyon"
May 2018 - present
Council member of the doctoral school E2M2
July 2018 - present
Treasurer of the "Groupe Français du Paléozoique"
February 2018 - now
Member of the arts and culture committee of Kfour El-Arabi, Lebanon
July 2015 - August 2017
Staff in the Jurassic Calcareous Nannofossil Workshop in lyon
During all my internships/field works I was a part of a big team (with colleagues from Madrid, Lausanne, Edinburgh, Prague), this lead me to understand that team work is mandatory for a successful career. However, individual and independent work is essential. Beside my professional research career, I love writing books. I have already finished writing one book in Arabic “Beirut is mine”; it will be published soon.