Kyrstin uses molecular biomarkers in sediment cores to investigate past climate change in tropical South America and the relationship between climate change and the terrestrial carbon cycle. So far she has focused on reconstructing variability in the South American Summer Monsoon over the past 60,000 years with cores from Lake Titicaca (Peru/Bolivia). With her thesis advisors, Valier Galy and Konrad Hughen, she is studying how climate change since the last glacial period affected the storage of terrestrial organic carbon in the Lake Titicaca and Cariaco Basin (Venezuela) watersheds. By radiocarbon dating terrestrial plant biomarkers in sediment cores, she will be able to determine how long plant-derived organic carbon was stored on land in reservoirs such as soils and wetlands during periods of very different climate conditions. The results of this work will hopefully yield insight into how the large amount of carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystems responds to and affects global climate.