Michelle Goman

Dept. Chair, Professor, and Director of the Sonoma State Quaternary Laboratory (SQUAL)

Michelle Goman
Michelle Goman




Remote for Fall 20
Office Hours
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Dr. Goman's Zoom
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Dr. Goman's Zoom

For Zoom office hours during remote instruction: 

1. Please email me ahead of time that you would like to Zoom.

2. Provide the following information in your email: 

a) Subject: Advising (give me a rough idea what it is about) or Classwork (indicate subject material) 

b) Type: Individual meeting or okay to be combined with other students 

3. Based on information from point 2, I will send back a time for you to join the meeting. 

4. Use the following link to access office hours: 


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 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 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


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.

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


Selected Publications & Presentations

Goman, M., Ashley, G., Owen, R.B., Hover, V., Maharjan, D., (2017) Late Holocene Environmental Reconstructions from Lake Solai, Kenya, The Professional Geographer, 69, 3, 438- 454.

Goman, M., Joyce, A., Lund, S., Pearson, C., Guerra, W., Dale, D., Hammond, D.E. and Celestian, A. J., (in press) Preliminary Results from Laguna Minucúa a potentially annually resolved record of climate and environmental change for the past ~5000 years in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca, Mexico. Quaternary International (available on line March 1st 2017)

Goman, M., Joyce, A. A., Mueller, R., & Middleton, W. D. (2014). Reconstructing the formation and land use history of the Mound 2 depression at Río Viejo, Oaxaca, Mexico. Quaternary International, 342, 33-44.

Joyce, A. A., M. Goman, R. Mueller, A. Borejsza, and W. Middleton. (2014). Human Impact on the Ancient Landscapes of Oaxaca, Mexico. In Climates of Change: Proceedings of the 44th Annual Chacmool Conference, S. Lacey (Ed.), University of Calgary Press, Calgary.

Goman, M., Joyce, A. A., and Mueller, R., (2013) Paleoecological evidence for agriculture and forest clearance in Coastal Oaxaca, In Polity and Ecology: Formative Period Archaeology on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, A. Joyce (Ed.), University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Mueller, R. G. , Joyce, A. A., Borejsza, A. and Goman, M., (2013) Anthropogenic Landscape Change and the Human Ecology of the Lower Río Verde Valley, In Polity and Ecology: Formative Period Archaeology on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, A. Joyce (Ed.), University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Joyce, A.A. and Goman, M. (2012) Bridging the Theoretical Divide in Holocene Landscape Studies: Social and Ecological Approaches to Ancient Oaxacan Landscapes, Invited review for Quaternary Science Reviews, 55, 1-22.

*student researchers

Reconstructing Prehistoric Land Use Through Time: The Río Verde Early Agricultural Landscape Project, M. Goman, A. Joyce, J. Hedgepeth, R. Mueller, G. Lock*, V. Salazar*, W. Middleton, Sixth International Limnogeology Congress, Reno, Nevada, June 15–19, 2015  

Landuse Reconstructions at El Charquito and Charco Lavado, Oaxaca, Mexico. M. Goman, A. Joyce, G. Lock*, V. Salazar*, D. Vieira,

Association of American Geographers, Tampa, Fl., 2014

The Río Verde Early Agricultural Landscape Project (Project RVEAL), M. Goman, A. Joyce,  R. Mueller, Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Tahoe, CA., 2013    

Reconstructing landuse history in the coastal zone east of the Rio Verde Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico, M. Goman, A. Joyce, G.Hepp, N. Darst*, J. Sullivan*, Association of American Geographers, Los Angeles, CA., 2013

Multi-proxy characterization of abruptly deposited sedimentary packages at Petaluma Marsh, Sonoma County, California, M. Goman, B. L. Ingram, F. Malamud-Roam, K. Helgeson, N. Darst*, A. Steward*,26th Pacific Climate Workshop, Asilomar, CA., 2013