Brendan Roark

Brendan Roark

Associate Professor

Director, Environmental Programs in Geosciences

  (979) 862-1775

  Eller O&M 811A


My research interests focus primarily on understanding natural and anthropogenic climate variability over the last 50,000 years emphasizing biogeochemical cycling and paleoceanographic reconstructions in marine and estuarine environments. My specific research interests include:

• Seasonal, multi-decadal and centennial climate variability (e.g. ENSO, Pacific Decadal Oscillation) recorded in both surface and deep-sea corals.

• Centennial to millennial climate variability (e.g., Holocene climate variability, Younger Dryas cooling, Heinrich events, glacial-interglacial cycles) recorded in ocean sediment cores.

• High-resolution records capable of resolving the rapid and abrupt climate changes that occur on these different timescales.

• Policy and conservation issues related to coastal oceans (coral reefs in particular), fisheries, climate change, and anthropogenic effects.

My research employs a diverse analytical toolbox using environmentally sensitive isotopic (d13C, d18O and d15N) and trace element proxies (Sr, Mg, and Cd) to reconstruct environmental variables such as temperature, ocean circulation, salinity, river inflow, and nutrient utilization in different natural archives. I also employ a variety of geochronology methods (14C, U/Th, and skeletochronology) in order to develop high-resolution chronologies in marine archives. Finally, I run a well developed and diverse field program ranging from small boat coral drilling operations to blue water oceanography cruises with ROVs, submersibles, and AUVs as a critical part of my research program.

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

  • Hamer, S.A. Weghorst, A., Auckland, L.D., Roark, E.B., Strey, O.F. Teel, P.D., and Hamer, G.L., (In Press) Comparison of DNA and stable isotope-based techniques for tick blood meal analysis. Journal of Medical Entomology.
  • *Teale, N.G., **Mahan, H., **Bleakney, S., **Berger A., **Shibley, N., Frauenfeld, O.W., Quiring, S., Rapp, A.D., Roark, E.B., and Washington-Allen, R., (2014). Impacts of vegetation and precipitation on throughfall heterogeneity in a tropical pre-montane transitional cloud forest. Biotropica, 46(6), 667-676, doi:10.1111/btp.12166.
  • Rapp, A.D., **Peterson, A., Frauenfeld, O.W., Quiring, S., and Roark, E.B., (2014). Climatology of precipitation and storm characteristics in Costa Rica using the TRMM precipitation radar. Journal of Hydrometeorology,15(6), 2615-2633,  doi:10.1175/JHM-D-13-0174.1.
  • Prouty, N.G., Roark, E.B., Koening A.E., Demopoulos, A.W., Batista, F.C., Kocar, B.D., Selby D., McCarthy, M.D., Mienis, F. and Ross, S.W., (2014). Deep-sea coral record of human impact on watershed quality in the Mississippi River Basin. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 28, doi:10.1002/2013GB004754.
  • Guilderson, T.P., McCarthy, M.D., Dunbar, R.B., Englebrecht, A., and Roark, E.B., (2013). Late Holocene variations in Pacific surface circulations and biogeochemistry inferred from proteinaceous deep-sea corals. Biogeosciences, 10, 6019-6028.
  • Robinson, L.F., #Adkins, J.F., #Frank, N., #Gagnon, A.C., #Prouty N.G., #Roark E.B., and #van de Flirdt, T., (2013). The geochemistry of deep-sea coral skeletons: A review of vital effects and applications for paleoceanography. Deep-Sea Res. II, #listed alphabetically.
  • Prouty N. G., Roark E. B., Buster N. A., Ross S. W., 2011. Growth rate and age distribution of deep-sea black corals in the Gulf of Mexico. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 423:101-115.
  • Houlbreque, F., McCulloch, M., Roark, E.B., Guilderson, T.P., Meibom, A., Kimball, J., Mortimer, G., Cuif, J.P., and Dunbar, R.B., 2010. Uranium-series dating and growth characteristics of the deep-sea scleractinian coral: Enallopsammia rostrata from the Equatorial Pacific. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74:2380-2395.
  • Parish, F. and Roark, E.B., 2009 Growth validation and Gold coral (Gerardia sp.) in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 397:163-172.
  • Roark, E.B., Guilderson, T.P., Dunbar, R.B., Fallon, S.J., and Mucciarone, D.A., 2009. Extreme longevity in proteinaceous deep-sea corals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106: 5204-5208, doi:10.1073/pnas.0810875106.
  • Roark, E.B., Guilderson, T.P., Dunbar, R.B., and Ingram, B.L., 2006. Radiocarbon based ages and growth rates: Hawaiian deep-sea corals. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 327:1-14 (Feature Article).
  • Guilderson, T.P., Roark, E.B., Quay, P.D., Flood-Page, S., and Moy, C., 2006. Seawater evolution in the Gulf of Alaska: 2002 observations. Radiocarbon, 48:1-15.
  • Roark, E.B., Guilderson, T.P., Flood-Page, S., Dunbar, R.B., Ingram, B.L., Fallon, S.J., and McCulloch, M., 2005. Radiocarbon-based ages and growth rates of bamboo corals from the Gulf of Alaska. Geophysical Research Letters, 32, L04606, doi:10.1029/2004GL021919.
  • Roark, E.B., Ingram, B.L., Southon, J.R., and Kennett, J.P., 2003. Holocene Foraminiferal Radiocarbon Record of Paleo-circulation in Santa Barbara Basin. Geology 31:379-382.
  • Hendy, I.L., Kennett, J.P., Roark, E.B., and Ingram, B.L., 2002. Synchroneity of submillennial scale climate events between Greenland and Santa Barbara Basin, California. Quaternary Science Review 21:1167-1189.
  • Mumby, P.J., Chisholm, J.R.M., Edwards, A.J., Clark, C.D., Roark, E.B., Andrefouet, S., and Jaubert, J., 2001. Unprescedented bleaching-induced coral mortality in Porites spp. at Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia. Marine Biology 139:183-189.


Ph.D. Geography, University of California, Berkeley, 2005

M.A. Geography, University of California, Berkeley, 2001

B.A. in Environmental Conservation, University of Colorado, Boulder 1992


2014 Texas A&M University Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award College Level

2013 The Department of the Interior, Partners in Conservation Award for Mid-Atlantic Canyons Project (co-PI) with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. (Award recognizes the accomplishments of those who are innovating and collaborating to address today's complex conservation and stewardship challenges.)

2013 Texas A&M University, College of Geoscience Dean's Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty Service

2011 Texas A&M University Montague Scholar for Teaching Excellence

2007 Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship (Awarded by the American Australian Association for advanced research and study in Australia.)

Additional Information

I teach both undergraduate and graduate students courses in Earth system sciences, global change, geochemisty, and paleoclimatology. I am particularly interested in teaching outside the classroom walls by teaching in the field and the laboratory. I have taken students to sites around Texas, Costa Rica and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands to participate in educational and research expeditions. 


1/08-Present Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University, Department of Geography and Ocean Drilling and Sustainable Earth Sciences (ODASES)

                       Environmental Geosciences Program Professor

                       Director, Stable Isotope Geosciences Facility

6/05-1/08      Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University (Research Advisor: Dr. Robert Dunbar)

8/96-5/05      Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, University of California, Berkeley (Research Advisor: Dr. Lynn Ingram)

Professional and Synergistic Activities

Invited participant, NOAA Pacific Islands Deep-Sea Coral Research Needs Workshop, NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program. Honolulu, HI, April 22-23, 2014.

Session Co-Chair, AGU Ocean Science Meeting, “Submarine Canyons: Oceanographic conditions, geological features, and ecological settings,” Honolulu , HI, 2014.

Faculty Mentor NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in Costa Rica, Texas A&M University Soltis Center for Research and Education, San Isidro, Costa Rica, Summer 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Invited participant, NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program Workshop on establishing research priorities for U.S. west coast deep-sea coral management strategies, 2009.

Session Co-Chair, AGU Fall Meeting, “Deep and Surface Water Coral Archives of Oceanographic Change”, San Francisco, CA, 2009.

Invited participant, International Workshop on Red Coral Science, Management, and Trade: Lessons from the Mediterranean, University of Naples, Naples Italy, Sept. 23-26, 2009.

Invited participant, Marine Geoscience Leadership Symposium, Washington D.C., March 23-27, 2009.

Invited speaker, North American Trans-Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Studies (TRACES) Workshop, Feb. 28-29, 2008.

Invited participant, On the Cutting Edge: Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences, Stanford University, July, 2006.

Invited speaker, Black and Gold Coral Workshop, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, Hawaii, April 18-20, 2006. My research on the age and growth rates of Gold coral that was presented at this workshop resulted in a 5-year moratorium on the harvesting of Gold corals.


Research Cruises/Field Work

• AUV Sentry operations, Northwest Hawaiian Islands (Chief Scientist), RV Sikuliaq, November 17-December 12, 2014.

• AUV Sentry operations, Hawaii shakedown cruise, RV Sikuliaq, November 5-9, 2014.

• ROV Deep Discover operations, Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition (Co-shipboard lead scientist), NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, July 8-25, 2013.

• ROV Jason II operations, Mid-Atlantic Canyons in Virginia and Maryland, NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, April 30-May 29, 2013.

• ROV Kraken II operations, Mid-Atlantic Canyons in Virginia and Maryland, NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, August 15-31, 2012.

• NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in Costa Rica, Texas A&M University Soltis Center for Research and Education, San Isidro, Costa Rica, June 2011, 2012 and 2013.

• ROV Jason II operations, Florida east coast from Miami (Pourtales Terrace) to Jacksonville, NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, November 9-23, 2010.

• ROV operations and water chemistry sampling, Northern California, NOAA Ship McArthur II, June 17-25, 2010.

• Submersible diving (4 dives) in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, R.V. Ka’imikai-O-Kanaloa / DSRV Pisces V, Oct.-Nov. 2007.

• Submersible diving (3 dives) in the Line Islands, R.V. Ka’imikai-O-Kanaloa / DSRV Pisces IV and V, July-Aug. 2005.

• Submersible diving (2 dives) in the Hawaiian Islands, R.V. Ka’imikai-O-Kanaloa / DSRV Pisces V, Nov. 2004.

• Submersible diving (2 dives) and gravity coring in the Gulf of Alaska, R.V. Atlantis /D.S.R.V. Alvin, July 2002.

• Keppel Islands, GBR, coral drilling, M.Y. Marjorie J, November 2000.

• Tuamotus, French Polynesia, coral drilling and survey, M.Y. Golden Shadow, November 1998

• Moorea French Polynesia, coral drilling, UCB GUMP Research Station, Nov. 1997/Aug.1998.

• Blake Bahamas Outer Ridge, piston and gravity coring, R.V. Knorr, November 1993.

• North Atlantic, piston and gravity coring, R.V. Maurice Ewing June and July 1993.

• Submersible diving (1 dive), Juan de Fuca Ridge, R.V. Atlantis II /D.S.R.V. Alvin, July 1991.


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