Florida Tech Campus

Rachel Sales

PhD Student


ResearchGate Profile:

Twitter: @Rachelfiki

Rachel Sales

Rachel Sales

Rachel Sales: Bio

I received my Bachelors in Environmental Biology with minors in Geology and Music from the University of Dayton in 2015. During this time, I completed a project involving the biodiversity of a fossil species, called chitinozoans, during times of climate change in the fossil record. I then entered the graduate program at the Florida Institute of Technology, where I completed my Master’s in Ecology in 2017. For my Master’s thesis, I collected and identified pollen, charcoal, and testate amoebae from two peat bogs in Michigan, to study past climate change and human influence in the region. I am currently a Ph. D student, working in Andean/Amazonian ecosystems.

Research Interests: 

For my Ph. D, I would like to study the mid-late Holoecene ecosystems of the mid elevation region of the Andes. While archeologists have often found sites in the mid elevation range of the Andes (i.e. Machu Pichu, Písac, and Kuelap), it has long been viewed as a conduit for past humans, rather than an area of permanent settlement. However, as new archeological sites are discovered, further research into the ecological history of this region is warranted. For my Ph. D, I will be using two study sites, both of which are located near archeological sites, to study the effects of past humans on the mid elevation range of the Andes on the surrounding montane forest during the mid-late Holocene (c. 7000 cal yr BP-present). Future research may include lower elevation sites, as a comparison with these mid elevation sites. 

Site #1: Progresso (Peru, 2000 m)


 One of my study sites, located in Peru at 2000 m elevation.

Site #2: Cormoran (Ecuador, 1750 m elevation


 One of my study sites, located in Ecuador at 1750 m elevation.

Members of the Paleolab (Rachel Sales, Majoi de Novaes Nascimento and Bryan Valencia Castillo) using a Colinvoux-Vohnout corer, at Lake Cormoran (Sangay National Park, Ecuador).

Majoi de Novaes Nascimento, Bryan Valencia Castillo


Sales, R., McMichael, C., and Bush, M. 2019. Pre-Columbian human impacts on mid-elevational microrefugia in the Andes. 2019 VULPES: Past plant diversity, climate change, and mountain conservation, 10-15 March 2019. Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 1 No. 1,

Sales, R., McMichael, C., and Bush, M. 2016. Climate change in Michigan paleoecosystems: vegetation shifts and fire regime. 2016 ESA Annual Meeting, 7-12 August 2016. Abstracts with Programs, Vol. No.,

Sales, R., Goldman, D., Paris, F., and Sheets, D. 2014. Chitinozoan Biodiversity in the Ordovician of Gondwana: An Interval-Free Approach Using the Quantitative Stratigraphic Correlation Program CONOP9. 2014 GSA Annual Meeting, 19-22 October 2014. Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 46, No. 6, p 754.

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