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Stefanie Brachfeld

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research, College of Science and Mathematics

Center for Environmental & Life Sciences 206A
BS, University of Rochester
MS, California Institute of Technology
PhD, University of Minnesota
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Dr. Brachfeld is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research in the College of Science and Mathematics and Professor of Earth and Environmental Studies. Dr. Brachfeld oversees curriculum development including new degree programs, MOUs, articulation agreements, international programs, online programs, certificates, and new ventures. She is the dean's office point person on research-related matters such as the Faculty Scholarship Program, grant proposal submission, graduate assistantships, CSAM facilities, equipment, construction and renovations, and serves as the dean's office liaison with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, the Graduate School, and Grant Accounting.

Dr. Brachfeld's research expertise is in the fields of marine geology, Antarctic System Science, paleoclimatology, paleomagnetism, environmental magnetism, and planetary magnetism. Dr. Brachfeld has earned over $2.5M in research funding from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ocean Drilling Program, and Antarctic Drilling Program, and served as PI or co-PI on 5 instrumentation grants. She has served as an invited member of advisory boards for NSF-funded facilities and programs including the Institute for Rock Magnetism, Antarctic Marine Geology Research Facility, US Polar Rock Repository, and the Polar Subcommittee of the NSF Geoscience directorate.

Dr. Brachfeld has participated in 11 marine geology and geophysics and paleoceanographic expeditions to Antarctica, the North Atlantic Ocean, and Arctic Ocean aboard the research vessels Nathaniel B. Palmer, Laurence M. Gould, US Coast Guard Cutter Healy, JR Resolution, and the Araon, and served in leadership roles as watch chief on 5 expeditions. She was also an invited member of the Antarctic Drilling Program (ANDRILL) science team. Eight Montclair State University students have joined Dr. Brachfeld on these expeditions. She has mentored more than 60 MSU students at the undergraduate through doctoral levels.

Dr. Brachfeld's teaching activities span Montclair State University’s General Education Program, University Honors Program, and bachelors, masters, and doctoral level courses in Earth and Environmental Studies. These include Introductory Marine Science, Advanced Marine Geology, Honors Seminar in Science, Earth Systems Science, X-ray Microanalysis, and Research Project I & II in Environmental Management. She previously served as Chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, Director of the PhD program in Environmental Management, Graduate Program Coordinator / Program Advisor for the MS and BS program in Earth and Environmental Science.

Dr. Brachfeld has a particular interest in student fellowships and research grants, professional development and career planning, and helping students and early career scientists locate level-appropriate research grant programs. She serves as a Resource Faculty Member for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Please see her links section for pointers to student scholarships, student research grants, graduate and postdoctoral research fellowships and websites listing job opportunities in geoscience, environmental science, geography, sustainability, and GIS.

Google Scholar Profile:

Ph.D. Geophysics, University of Minnesota, MN, 1999
M.S. Geology, California Institute of Technology, CA 1992
B.S. Geology, University of Rochester, NY 1990

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research, College of Science and Mathematics, 7/18 to present
Acting Associate Dean, College of Science and Mathematics, 9/17-6/18
Director, PhD Program in Environmental Management, Montclair State University, 7/15-8/17
Chair, Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University 9/13-8/17
Professor, Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University, 9/13 to present
Adjunct Scientist, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, 2009 to present
Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University, 9/07-8/13
Assistant Professor, Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University, 9/03-8/07
Research Associate, Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University, 2002-2003
Byrd Postdoctoral Fellow, Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University, 2001-2002
Postdoctoral scientist and adjunct instructor, Geology and Geophysics, University of Minnesota, 1999-2000
Instructor, Youth and Family Programs, Science Museum of Minnesota, 1997
Instructor, College of Liberal Arts Honors Division, University of Minnesota, 1996
Instructor, College of Extension and Continuing Education, University of Minnesota, 1992

§ indicates a student author

Reilly, B., Tauxe, L., Brachfeld, S., Raymo, M., Bailey, I., Hemming, S., Weber, M., Williams, T., Garcia, M., §Guitard, M., Martos, Y., Perez, L., Zheng, X., Armbrecht, L., Cardillo, F., Du, Z., Fauth, G., §Glueder, A., Gutjar, M., Hernandez-Almeida, I., §Hoem, F., §Hwang, J., §Iizuka, M., Kato, Y., §Lee, B., O’Connell, S., Peck, V., Ronge, T., Seki, O., §Tripathi, S., Warnock, J., 2021. New magnetostratigraphic insights from Iceber Alley on the trends and rhythms Antarctic climate during the Plio-Pleistocene, Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, V36(2),

Perez, L.F., Martos, Y.M., Garía, M., Weber, M.E., Raymo, M.E., Williams, T., Bohoyo, F., Armbrecht, L., Bailey, I., Brachfeld, S., §Glüder, A., §Guitard, M., Gutjar, M., Hemming, S., Hernández-Almeida, I., §Hoem, F.S., Kato, Y., O’Connell, S., Peck, V., Reilly, B., Ronge, T., Tauxe, L., Warnock, J., Zheng, X., and the IODP Expedition 382 Scientists, Miocene to present oceanographic variability in the Scotia Sea and Antarctic Ice Sheet dynamics: Insight from revised seismic-stratigraphy following IODP Expedition 382, Earth and Planetary Science Letters,

Reilly, B., McCormick, M., Brachfeld, S., Hayley, B., 2020. Authigenic ferrimagnetic iron sulfide preservation due to non-steady state diagenesis: A perspective from Perseverance Drift, Northwestern Weddell Sea, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems,

§Pereira, P.S., van de Flierdt, T., Hemming, S., Frederichs, T., Hammond, S., Brachfeld, S., Doherty, C. Kuhn, G., Smith, J., Klages, J., Hillenbrand, C-D., 2020. The geochemical and mineralogical fingerprint of West Antarctica's weak underbelly: Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, Chemical Geology,

§Dove, I.A., Leventer, A., Metcalf, M., Brachfeld, S., Dunbar, R., Manley, P., Shevenell, A., Murray, R., Hommeyer, M., Kryc, K.A., McLenaghan, N., Taylor, F., Huber, B., 2020. Marine geological and geophysical investigation of Edward VIII Gulf, Kemp Coast, East Antarctica, Antarctic Science, 1-13,

Wellner, J.S., Scambos, Domack, E.W., Vernet, M., Leventer, A., Balco, G., Brachfeld, S., Cape, M.R., Huber, B., Ishman, S., McCormick, M.L., Mosley-Thompson, E., Petit, E., Smith, C.R., Truffer, M., van Dover, C., Yoo, K.-C., 2019. The Larsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica (LARISSA): Polar Systems Bound Together, Changing Fast, GSA Today, 29, 1-7,

§Dipre, G., Polyak, L. , Kuznetsov, A. , Oti, E., Ortiz, J., Brachfeld, S., Xuan, C., Lazar, K., Cook, A., 2018. Plio-Pleistocene sedimentary record from the Northwind Ridge: first insight 2 into paleoclimatic evolution of the western Arctic Ocean for the last >5 Ma, Arktos: PAST Gateways Special Issue, v4, 2018.

§Pereira, P.S, van de Flierdt, T., Hemming, S.R., Hammond, S.J, Kuhn, G., Brachfeld, S., Doherty, C., and Hillenbrand. C.-D., 2018. Geochemical fingerprints of glacially eroded bedrock from West Antarctica: detrital thermochronology, radiogenic isotope systematics and trace element geochemistry in Late Holocene glacial-marine sediments,” Earth-Science Reviews, 182. 204-232.

§Kyrmanidou, A., §Vadman, K., Ishman, S., Leventer, A., Brachfeld, S., Domack, E., Wellner, J.S. 2018. Late Holocene oceanographic and climatic variability in the Perseverance Drift, northwestern Weddell Sea based on benthic foraminifera and diatoms, Marine Micropaleontology, 141:10-22.

Cowan, E.A., §Epperson, E.E., Seramur, K.C., Brachfeld, S.A., and Hageman, 2017. S.J., Magnetic susceptibility as a proxy for coal ash pollution within riverbed sediments in a watershed with complex geology (southeastern USA), Environmental Earth Science, 76:657,

§Reilly, B.R., §Natter, C., and Brachfeld, S.A., 2016. Holocene glacial activity in Barilari Bay, west Antarctic Peninsula, tracked by magnetic mineral assemblages: Linking ice, ocean, and atmosphere, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 17, https://doi:10.1002/2016GC006627.

§Hodson, T.O, Powell, R.D., Brachfeld, S.A., Tulaczyk, S., Scherer, R.P., and the WISSARD Science Team, 2016. Physical processes in Subglacial Lake Whillans, West Antarctica: inferences from sediment cores, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 444, pp. 56–63.

Lavoie, C., Domack E., Heirman, K., Naudts, L., Brachfelds, S., 2016. Jaegyu Knoll, Antarctic Sound (Antarctic Peninsula), In: Dowdeswell, J.A., Canals, M., Jakobsson, M., Todd, B.J, Dowdeswell, E.K., and Hogan, K.A. (eds), Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient. Geological Society, London, Memoirs, The Geological Society of London, pp. 996-998.

§Singh S.K., Brachfeld S.A., Taylor R.W., 2016. Evaluating Hydrogeological and Topographic Controls on Groundwater Arsenic Contamination in the Middle-Ganga Plain in India: Towards Developing Sustainable Arsenic Mitigation Models. In: Fares A. (eds) Emerging Issues in Groundwater Resources. Advances in Water Security. Springer, Cham.

Brachfeld, S., §Shah, D., §First, E., Hammer, J., Bowles, J., 2015. Influence of redox conditions on the intensity of Mars crustal magnetic anomalies, Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 50(10), 1703–1717.

Cowan, E.A., §Gaspari, D.P., Brachfeld, S.A., and Seramur, K.C., 2015. Characterization of Coal Ash released in the TVA Kingston Spill to Facilitate Ash Detection in the River System Using Magnetic Susceptibility, Fuel, 159, 308-314.


Collaborative Research: Tracing coal ash solids in the environment- Implications for long-term contamination of the aquatic ecosystem, A. Vengosh (Duke University, lead PI), E. Cowan (Appalachian State University), and S. Brachfeld, $23,621, NSF Geobiology and Low Temperature Geochemistry, 03/01/2020 - 02/28/2023.

U.S. Science Support Program Office in Association with the International Ocean Discovery Program (USSSP-IODP), S. Brachfeld (PI), “Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics tracked by Lithic Clast and Fe-oxide Provenance,” Expedition 382 Post-expedition Post-Expedition Activity Award, sub-contract from Columbia University, U.S. Science Support Operator for IODP, $17,994, 12/01/2019 – 02/28/21.

Collaborative Research: Elucidating the role of titanomagnetite in rhyolite vesiculation, J. Hammer (lead PI Univ. Hawaii), S. Brachfeld (MSU PI), and T. Shea (co-PI), NSF Petrology and Geochemistry, $116,991, 04/01/19 – 03/31/22.

MRI: Acquisition of an Inductively Coupled Plasma- Mass Spectrometry (ICP MS) for elemental concentration and speciation analysis at Montclair State University, X. Li (PI) with co-PIs S. Brachfeld, Y. Deng, N. Goodey, and S. Passchier, $168,245, National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program, 09/01/15-08/31/19.

Collaborative Research: Deglacial ice dynamics in the Weddell Sea embayment using sediment provenance, National Science Foundation Antarctic Earth Sciences Program (with collaborators from Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Imperial College, London, British Antarctic Survey, and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany)

Static and shock pressure treatment of synthetic Mars basalts: Implications for understanding the evolution of crustal magnetic anomalies, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Mars Fundamental Research Program (with collaborators from the University of Hawaii and Manoa, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Harvard University).

Acquisition of a spinner magnetometer and ancillary paleomagnetic equipment at Montclair State University, National Science Foundation Earth Sciences Instrumentation and Facilities Program.

Enhancing Holocene Ice Sheet and Ice Shelf Geochronology using Geomagnetic Paleointensity Variations, National Science Foundations Antarctic Earth Sciences.

Collaborative Research in IPY: Abrupt Environmental Change in the Larsen Ice Shelf System, a Multidisciplinary Approach, Cryosphere & Oceans, Marine and Quaternary Geosciences, & Marine Ecosystems, National Science Foundation Antarctic Integrated System Science Program (with collaborators from 16 universities and research institutes in the U.S., Belgium, Canada, UK, and South Korea)

Acquisition of a Scanning Electron Microscope at Montclair State University, National Science Foundation, Major Research Instrumentation, Earth Sciences Division.

Provost's Research Award, 2017
College of Science and Mathematics Faculty Research Award, Montclair State University, 2011
Herman and Margaret Sokol Faculty Fellow, 2010
Elected to Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, 2007
Montclair State University Distinguished Scholar, 2006
National Science Foundation Early Career Award, 2004

Joanna Carlsen, M.A. in Teaching, 2005, now Physician's Assistant
Michael Cacciapuoti, B.S. in Geoscience, 2006, now Earth Science educator in NJ
J. Mitchell Clay, MS in Earth and Environmental Science, 2017, now PhD student at Univ. Kentucky
Gina Quiñones, M.A. in Environmental Studies 2006, now Environmental Scientist at ARCADIS
Juliana Pinzon, B.S. in Biology, 2008, now practicing Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Douglas Sieradzki, M.S. in Geoscience, 2008
Luisa Bouhot, B.S. in Business Administration, 2009, now Office and Logistics Coordinator at Patcham USA LLC
Dr. Cathleen (Dale) Doherty, B.S. in Biology, 2007, M.S. in Geoscience, 2009, now Instrument Specialist, Rutgers University Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute
Kenneth Kacperowski Jr, M.S. in Geoscience, 2009, now Staff Geologist at MACTEC
Dr. Daniel Hauptvogel, BS in Geoscience 2008, MS in Geoscience 2010, now Instructional Assistant Professor at University of Houston
Dr. Melissa Hansen, M.S. in Geoscience, PhD in Environmental Management 2016, now instructor at Kean University and Montclair State University
David Cuomo, M.S. in Geoscience, 2010, now Geologist with the Louis Berger Group
Carl Natter, M.S. in Geoscience 2011, now Geologist at Tetra Tech
Brian Tate, M.A. 2011, now Field technician at Cardno ENTRIX
Tommy Clayton, B.S. in Geoscience, 2012, now Earth Science educator in NJ
Jesse Kolodin, M.S. in Geoscience 2012, now PhD student at Montclair State University
Leah Thiel, M.A. in Environmental Studies, 2013, now Environmental Scientist at Matrix New World Engineering
Dr. Brendan Reilly, M.S. in Geoscience 2013, now postdoctoral research fellow at SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Deepa Shah, M.S. in Geoscience, 2013, now Ph.D. student at Oregon State University
Christopher Connallon, B.S. in Geoscience 2013, now Geologist at the Maryland Geological Survey
Diana Flores, B.S. and MS in Geoscience, 2013 and 2015, now Business System Analyst at PSEG
Joseph Kowalski, M.A. in Environmental Studies, 2014, now Geologist at Tectonic Engineering & Surveying Consultants, P.C.
Rachel Perez Darley, M.S. in Geoscience, 2014, now Field Arborist at AECOM
Molly Borst, M.S. in Geoscience, 2014, now Manager, STEM Education - North America at BASF
Kelly Searfoss, M.S. Geoscience, 2014, now Science Educator in NJ
Elen Teo, M.S. in Sustainability Sciences, 2014. Now PhD Candidate at U.C. Santa Cruz
Natalie Romanoff, M.S. Geoscience, 2015, Now Compliance Officer with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Jason Darley, B.A. in Geography, 2015, M.S. in Earth and Environmental Science 2017, Now Environmental Scientist at Tetra Tech.
Kathleen Ottens, B.S. in Geoscience, 2015
Michael Maresch, M.S. in Geoscience, 2015, now Geospatial Analyst at Continental Mapping Consultants, WI
David Sharpe, M.S. in Geoscience, 2015, now Geologist at GEI Consultants, Inc.
Ashley Cirone, M.S. in Earth and Environmental Science, 2017
Isamar Cortes, B.S. in Sustainability Science, 2017, M.S. in Earth and Environmental Science 2019, now PhD student at Montclair State University
Christina Verhagen, B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science, 2017, now PhD student and NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Rutgers University
Shane Nicols-O'Neill, BS in Earth and Environmental Science, 2018
Richard James, M.S. in Sustainability Science, 2020
Molly Minogue, BS in Earth and Environmental Science, 2020


Global climate change, paleoclimatology, marine geology and geophysics, paleomagnetism, environmental change in Antarctica and the Arctic Ocean, Earth systems science, planetary magnetism, geochemistry, and light and electron microscopy


Research Projects

IODP Expedition 382: Iceberg Alley and Subantarctic Ocean-Ice Dynamics

Integrated Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 382 conducted sediment coring operations in the Scotia Sea and “Iceberg Alley” during March-May 2019 (Weber, Raymo, Peck, Williams et al., 2019), targeting small basins occupied by thick contourite deposits. The core sites are within the influence of the eastward-flowing Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and the western limb of the Weddell Gyre, which exports icebergs and Weddell Sea Deep Water northward to the Southern Ocean. The Scotia Sea also sits in the path of the Southern Hemisphere Westerlies as they transport dust from South America to East Antarctica. One of the most highly successful coring expeditions in DSDP/ODP/IODP history and with a tremendous interdisciplinary collaborative team, the materials and data collected during this expedition are being used to study the complex southern hemisphere climate system including the interplay between the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS), sea level, Southern Ocean circulation and water mass distribution, the westerly winds, and CO2 levels through time. Montclair State University personnel focus on provenance tracers to understand AIS behavior during deglaciations, and magnetic properties of the sediment that trace sources of terrigenous sediment and sediment transport processes (IRD, currents, wind). This project is funded by the Integrated Ocean Discovery Program and the National Science Foundation via the US Science Support Office at Columbia University.

Collaborative Research: Elucidating the Role of Titanomagnetite in Vesiculation of Silicic Magmas

This collaborative project with the University of Hawaii and the University of Oregon combines experimental petrology, volcanology, and rock magnetism to understand the processes through which volatiles exsolve from magma. As dissolved gases exsolve and form bubbles (nucleation), magma buoyancy increases and magma ascent rates speed up. As magma rises in a volcanic conduit, confining pressures decrease as the magma gets closer to the Earth’s surface, which allows more dissolved gas to nucleate bubbles and existing bubbles to expand, further speeding up the magma ascent rate. Thus, the processes governing volatile exsolution and outgassing, and particularly the timing of initial vapor phase nucleation with respect to depth in the volcano, control a magma’s explosive potential. An unresolved aspect of these explosive eruptions is whether bubble nucleation occurs homogeneously (in the bulk fluid) or heterogeneously (with bubbles growing on a solid substrate). Homogeneous bubble nucleation requires a much larger pressure drop than heterogeneous bubble. Magnetite crystals are known to enhance the rate of bubble nucleation by providing energetically-favorable substrates, and yet failure to detect a sufficiently high abundance of magnetite crystals in natural rhyolitic pumice (the rock type produced by solidifying silica-rich magma) has supported the inference that bubble nucleation occurs homogenously, even though this can result in a paradox for sites where the required pressure drop is greater than physically possible given the depth of the magma chamber. This study explores the possibility that nanometer sized magnetite particles are present in magmas prior to eruption, and that these crystals trigger bubble nucleation at much lower supersaturation values (i.e., at greater depth in the volcano’s plumbing system) than would occur in their absence. The objectives this work are to ascertain whether rhyolite pumices contain nanoscale titanomagnetite crystals in numerical abundances that rival those of bubbles and to quantify the potential influence of titanomagnetite crystals in bubble nucleation. This project is funded by NSF grant 1839313.

Collaborative Research: Tracing Coal Ash Solids in the Environment - Implications for long-term contamination of the aquatic ecosystem

This collaborative project with Appalachian State University and Duke University is developing magnetic methods as rapid, inexpensive tracers of coal-ash and associated heavy metal contaminants present in urban rivers and lakes due to failure of ash storage ponds and airborne transport of fly ash. “Ferrospheres” are products of coal combustion consisting of iron oxide spheres 5-50 μm in diameter. They are a minor component of coal combustion waste products, but are easy to detect using their magnetic characteristics. Toxic heavy metals (As, Se, Hg) and radioactive elements (Ra) are present in in coal, and become concentrated in ash after combustion of the organic material. Spilled ash is typically recovered via dredging. Magnetic tracers that target pockets of ash can potentially increase the efficiency of these efforts. This project examines the magnetic characteristics of coal ash and natural background watershed sediment with a long-term goal of developing in-situ magnetic survey methods to identify deposits of unrecovered ash. This project is funded by NSF grant 1932087.