Dr. Michelle Goman

Assistant Professor

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Specialization

  • Biogeography
  • Paleoecology and Paleoclimatology
  • Geomorphology
  • Mesoamerica
  • United States
  • East Africa

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. - Geography, University of California at Berkeley, 1996.
  • M.A. - Geography, University of California at Berkeley, 1992.
  • B.A. Hons. - Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of Wales, 1988.


  • Geog 204: Global Environmental Systems
  • Geog 205: Introduction to Map Reading and Interpretation
  • Geog 372: Global Climate Change: Past, Present & Future
  • Geog 375: Natural Hazards

Recent Publications

    Malamud-Roam, F. and Goman, M. (forthcoming) History of the San Francisco Bay estuary and salt marshes formation. In Palaima, A., Talley, D., Kooser, J. (eds.). Tidal Salt Marshes of the San Francisco Bay Estuary: ecology, restoration, preservation. NOAA, Tiburon..

    Mahowald, N., Albani, S., Engelstaedter, S., Winckler, G., Goman, M. (2011) Model insight into paleodust records, Quaternary Science Reviews, 30, 7-8, 832-854.

    Goman, M., Joyce, A. A., and Mueller, R., (forthcoming). Paleoecological evidence for agriculture and forest clearance in Coastal Oaxaca, In Polity and Ecology: Formative Period Archaeology on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca Ed. A. Joyce, University Press of Colorado, Boulder

    Goman, M., A. Joyce, R. Mueller, and L. Passchyn, (2010) Multi-Proxy Paleoecological Reconstruction of Prehistoric Land Use History in the Western Region of the Lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico. The Holocene,  20, 761-772.

    Goman, M., F. Malamud-Roam, and B.L. Ingram, (2008) Paleoenvironmental investigations at China Camp State Park, San Francisco Bay, California. Journal of Coastal Research, 24. 5. 1126-1137.

    Goman M., B.L. Ingram and A. Strom (2008) Composition of stable isotopes in Geoduck (Panopea abrupta) shells: A preliminary assessment of annual and seasonal paleooceanographic changes in the northeast Pacific, Quaternary International,188, 117-125.

    Cooper, S.R., M. Goman, and C. Richardson (2008) Historical Gradient Changes in Water Quality and Vegetation in WCA-2A Determined by Paleoecological Analyses. In The Everglades Experiments: Lessons for Ecosystem Restoration.  Series: Ecological Studies, vol. 201 Ed. C. Richardson,Springer, Chapter 12, pages 321-350.

Recent Papers

    Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions at the U2 Archaeological Feature, Lower Rio Verde Valley, Oaxaca. M. Goman, A. Joyce, C. Kearns, F. Malik, M. Mnich, W. Middleton, and R. Mueller, Association of American Geographers, Seattle, Washington, 12-16 April, 2011

    The Paleoclimate potential and enigma of Laguna Minucua, Oaxaca, Mexico, M. Goman, C. Pearson, W. Guerra, A. Joyce and D. Dale, 25th Pacific Climate Workshop, Asilomar, March 6-9th 2011

    Project RVEAL: A spatially intensive Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of human-land interactions, M.Goman, A. Joyce, W. Middleton, R. Mueller, Geological Society of America, 31st  October-3rd  November 2010, Denver, Colorado.

    Multiproxy Evidence for hydrological changes during the Little Ice Age in the East African Rift, Kenya, M. Goman, G. Ashley, V. Hover, B. Owen, D. Maharjan.  Association of American Geographers, Washington D.C., 14-18 April, 2010.

    Modeling the Immediate Climate Effects of the 5th Century Ilopango eruption of El Salvador, M. Goman, A. Song, U. Nair, R. Pielke Sr. Association of American Geographers, Las Vegas, 22-27 March, 2009

    Composition of stable isotopes in Panopea Abrupta (Geoduck) shells: A preliminary assessment of annual and seasonal paleoceanographic changes in the Northeast Pacific, Goman, M., L.B. Ingram and A. Strom. Association of American Geographers, Boston, 15-19 April, 2008

In My Own Words

    My research focus seeks to understand the causes and impacts of environmental change that occurred in the past, particularly during the Holocene (last 10,000 years).  I believe that through a better understanding of our past interactions with the environment we will be better prepared to understand future impacts of global environmental change.  In order to understand variations in climate or environmental change during time frames before written records I use biological and non-biological materials preserved in the geological record, primarily in lake and wetland sediments.  For instance, one of my laboratory specialties is in pollen analysis (palynology).  Pollen from trees, shrubs and herbs is preserved over time in lake sediments.   The pollen is identifiable and can be used to understand how the vegetation for a region has changed because of climate influences, geomorphic changes or through human agency.

    I am currently involved in several international projects.  I have been collaborating with an archaeologist in Oaxaca, Mexico for the past decade.  The ultimate goal of the project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is to provide a detailed understanding of human land interactions in the Lower Rio Verde watershed. This entails undertaking high resolution paleoecological reconstructions at multiple lake sites within the watershed. The number of study sites in the region provides a novel approach to examining questions of how people have used the landscape through time and coupled with our detailed understanding of the regions archaeology we will be able to examine how cultural/societal changes also impacted spatial use of the landscape.

    I have research interests in East Africa.  One ongoing research project is located in the Rift Valley of Kenya.  Here, I am a member of an international research team examining late Holocene aged wetland sediments and their potential as sensitive recorders of climate change.  I am also working with a team of Climate Modelers to assess the impact of dust on climate during the period known as the African Humid Period (~6 thousand years ago).   This project is supported by the National Science Foundation.

    I am beginning a new project that focuses on understanding climate changes over the past 1,000 years within the Bay Area.  This project which is a joint collaboration with U.C. Berkeley will examine the paleoclimate proxy record archived in estuarine and wetland deposits from the Bay region.  My Doctoral dissertation work focused on the Bay and so it is great to be returning to the Bay marshes.

    I run the Sonoma Quaternary Lab (SQUAL).  This lab focuses on providing students with hands-on research experience in physical geography.  The lab is equipped with light and stereo microscopes for paleoecological analyses as well as a variety of equipment for different sedimentary analytical techniques such as grainsize and humification analysis.  If you are interested in finding out more about the SQUAL lab and research opportunities please contact me.