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Dr. Carie Frantz


Ph.D. at University of Southern California
B.S. at University of Washington


Contact Information

Phone: 801-626-6181
Office Location: 
Tracy Hall Science Center (TY)
Room 315, Mail Code 2507


Teaching Philosophy & Focus

The evolution of our planet cannot be understood without recognizing the profound impact that living organisms have had—and continue to have—on shaping the Earth’s surface, atmosphere, and oceans. Likewise, the chemical and physical evolution of our planet has shaped the direction of the evolution of the life that inhabits it. My teaching focuses on all things geobiology: the interactions between living organisms (the biosphere) and inorganic processes (the geosphere), and I strive to convert my students into rock-licking microbiophiles with an appreciation of the complex interactions that have shaped our Earth.

I utilize active learning methods, projects, classroom discussions, and field- and laboratory work as critical supplements to traditional lecture-and textbook-based learning to develop students as critical thinkers and problem-solvers for the important challenges that face our planet. The Salt Lake Basin is an incredibly rich natural laboratory for studying geosciences and geobiology, and my courses are influenced by local settings, resources, and examples that I link to exotic locales and global issues.

For more information about my teaching, mentoring, research, and outreach activities (and a current CV), visit my website here.

Courses Taught

GEO 1030 - Earthquakes and Volcanoes
GEO 3753/MICR 3753 - Geomicrobiology
GEO 4550/CHEM 4550 - Geochemistry
GEO 4560/CHEM 4560 - Environmental Geochemistry
GEO 4990 - Geoscience and Society
Catalog list of GEO classes with descriptions.

Research Areas of Interest

My research combines field-based studies, sampling, and chemical/geochemical analyses with laboratory-based experimental approaches and computational modeling to understand the interactions between microorganisms and their environment, both in modern environments and in the rock record. I particularly focus on the geobiology of ancient and modern microbialites, especially stromatolites. My geobiology research has numerous opportunities for student involvement and I welcome interested and motivated students to join the “Frantz Lab”.

Specific Projects

For more info about my research, publications, and student opportunities, check out my research website here.

Great Salt Lake Microbialites: The Great Salt Lake is one of the very few locations on Earth where microbialites are currently growing. This unique resource provides a window into the early evolution of life on Earth, as well as provides a living laboratory to help us understand what microbialites can tell us about past environments.

Green River Formation Stromatolites: The Eocene Green River Formation was a massive lake system—not unlike the lake system that the Great Salt Lake is a remnant of—that existed during a critical period in the history of our planet’s climate when temperatures and carbon dioxide levels were extremely high. I use geochemical information stored in stromatolites from the Green River Formation to reconstruct records of terrestrial environmental change during this dramatic period, which may help us understand how the Earth’s terrestrial environments may respond to the high temperature, high-CO2 climate projections of our not-too-distant future. I also work with colleagues at other institutions to apply this method in other lacustrine systems.

“Rotten” Arctic Sea Ice: For the past few years, I’ve been working on a project with colleagues at the University of Washington Polar Science Center investigating the physics and microbiology of late melt stages of Arctic sea ice—so-called “rotten” ice. For more about this project, check out the project website, which includes some fun videos of us in the field!