PhD student at Yale University. From early childhood on, Jasmina Wiemann has been fascinated about how fossil remains can paint a picture of the past. Her favorite approach to paleontology is chemistry: at the age of 15, a German excellence stipend allowed her to study Chemistry at the Technical University of Dortmund. After graduation, she enrolled in the Geosciences Bachelor program at the University of Bonn, where she specialized in Geochemistry and Paleontology. She pursued her Master of Science degree in the Department of Biology at the University of Bonn.
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Jasmina’s research focuses on mechanisms of biomolecule fossilization and its applications. The study of fossils comes with its challenges, since most of the biologically informative molecules and the soft tissues they constitute are thought to not survive through deep time. However, her work suggests that many biomolecules preserve through chemical transformation which also allows survival of original soft tissue morphologies over hundreds of millions of years. She discovered the process of protein fossilization in vertebrate hard tissues (from teeth to eggshells), and is currently optimizing protocols to extract for the first time phylogenetic, physiological and biomechanic information from protein fossilization products. Her motivation is to use fossil soft tissues and biomolecules as reliable paleobiological proxies.
Aside from her work on the preservation of structural macromolecules, Jasmina is also interested in low-weight metabolites, such as tetrapyrrol egg color pigments. She traced “avian” egg color back to its single evolutionary origin in nonavian dinosaurs, and applies biomolecules preserved in fossil archosaur eggshells to infer nesting ecology, and breeding behaviors. For this work she was awarded the Steven Cohen Award for Excellent Student Research of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2015).
Excited about the opportunity to combine paleontology and chemistry, she is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University, advised by Derek Briggs.