Surangi W Punyasena

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Personal profile

Education

BA, Yale University
SM, The University of Chicago
PhD, The University of Chicago

Teaching

IB 105 ONL, Environmental Biology (Online)
IB 439, Biogeography

Personal profile

Our lab studies the influence of climate on the composition, structure, and long-term evolution of lowland Neotropical plant communities. We use the fossil pollen record to document plant response to past climate variability. Because pollen and spores are widespread in the terrestrial sediment record, we are able to use these microscopic fossils to study long-term trends in plant ecology and evolution.

We seek to re-imagine the field of paleoecology and expand the range of ecological and evolutionary hypotheses that can be addressed by increasing the throughput, reproducibility, and taxonomic resolution of an unrecognized source of “big data”– the microfossil record. The focus of our current work is on developing microscopy and computer automation methods to improve the quantity and quality of pollen and spore counts. We are exploring different microscopy techniques, image analysis, and machine learning. With these new tools, we aim to develop larger and more comprehensive data sets that will expand the scope of paleoecological research. Our long-term goal is to transform the paleoecological analysis workflow, from imaging to classification to interpretation.

Office Phone

217-244-8049

Office Address

139 Morrill Hall

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Research Output

  • Cuticle and subsurface ornamentation of intact plant leaf epidermis under confocal and superresolution microscopy

    Urban, M. A., Barclay, R. S., Sivaguru, M. & Punyasena, S. W., Feb 1 2018, In : Microscopy research and technique. 81, 2, p. 129-140 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Fossil pollen and spores in paleoecology

    Mander, L. & Punyasena, S. W., Jan 1 2018, Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology. Springer, p. 215-234 20 p. (Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Nested cell strainers: An alternative method of preparing palynomorphs and charcoal

    Urban, M. A., Romero, I. C., Sivaguru, M. & Punyasena, S. W., Jun 2018, In : Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 253, p. 101-109 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Datasets

    Pollen types from Haselhorst et al. (2017) Ecological Informatics: Table S1. Pollen types identified in the BCI and PNSL pollen rain data sets

    Haselhorst, D. S. (Creator), Tcheng, D. K. (Creator), Moreno, J. E. (Creator) & Punyasena, S. W. (Creator), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jun 16 2017

    Dataset

    Model results from Haselhorst et al. (2017) Ecological Informatics: Table S3. Mean slope response for each predictive model used in the ecoinformatic analysis

    Haselhorst, D. S. (Creator), Tcheng, D. K. (Creator), Moreno, J. E. (Creator) & Punyasena, S. W. (Creator), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jun 16 2017

    Dataset

    Pollen and climate data from Haselhorst et al. (2017) Ecological Informatics: Table S2. Raw pollen counts and climatic data for each seasonal sampling period

    Haselhorst, D. S. (Creator), Tcheng, D. K. (Creator), Moreno, J. E. (Creator) & Punyasena, S. W. (Creator), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jun 16 2017

    Dataset