Michelle Goman

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

Michelle Goman
Michelle Goman




Dr. Goman is currently on sabbatical

My research 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 an understanding of our past human-environment interactions we will be better prepared to understand future impacts of global environmental change.   I use biological and non-biological materials preserved in the geological record, primarily in lake and wetland sediments to understand variations in climate or environmental change during time frames before instrumental records existed.  

I have several ongoing research projects. I am collaborating with archaeologists on several projects in Mexico.  Research in Oaxaca focusses on developing a high-resolution climate and environmental record for the Classic to Postclassic periods of Mesoamerican history when profound cultural change occurred.  Research in Guerrero focusses on geoarchaeological and paleobotanical analysis soils from a rock shelter.   These deposits also encompass a period of critical cultural change as they span the period of pre- and post European contact.  Both projects are funded through grants from the National Science Foundation. 

Closer to home, I have begun a project to reconstruct the paleoecology of ancient wetlands which are being exposed during construction work in the city of San Francisco.  These deposits offer a unique window into environments that are now severely disrupted or extirpated and so will provide valuable information for restoration projects.   

I run the Sonoma Quaternary Lab (SQUAL).   The lab is equipped with light and stereo microscopes for paleoecological and dendrochronological 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, as well as undergraduate and graduate research opportunities please contact me. 


Fellow - Geological Society of America, elected 2018

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
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