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Nyanza Project Faculty



Dr. Andrew S. Cohen

Program Director

University of Arizona
Department of Geosciences
Tucson, Arizona USA

Paleoecology/Conservation of Rift Lakes

Research Interests

I am interested in the geological and ecological evolution of lake ecosystems at various time scales. For the past 14 years, I have been investigating the evolutionary ecology and paleolimnological history of Lake Tanganyika, looking at a wide variety of subjects from basin evolution to Holocene hydrological and ecological history of the lake. I use fossil invertebrates, primarily ostracode crustaceans and molluscs, to understand patterns of ecosystem and community change through time. I am interested in understanding how benthic invertebrate communities change in response to lake conditions. Over the past seven years, I have focused my attention on how humans are affecting the lake's benthic communities, particularly through the process of watershed deforestation and the introduction of large quantities of sediment into certain parts of the lake. Through this work I have become quite interested in the application of our understanding of the lake's paleoecological record to applied problems of conservation biology, and the design of underwater parks and refuges for the lake's hundreds of endemic fish and invertebrate species.

In addition to my work on Lake Tanganyika, I have also been involved in paleolimnological research projects in the US: the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and Summer Lake in Oregon. In both of these cases, our primary objective was to use the paleolimnological records to interpret paleoclimatic histories of the Great Basin region.


At the University of Arizona, I am responsible for teaching a wide variety of courses, from the Introductory Sedimentology/Stratigraphy course, to the Introduction to Oceanography course, to the paleobiology component of an interdepartmental course called Analysis of Biological Diversification.


I have a BA from Middlebury College, and a PhD from the University of California - Davis.


When I'm not at the university, I am an avid hiker, Scuba diver, and skier, and I am the father of twin hyperactive eight-year-old boys (like father, like sons).

Contact Information

Dr. Andy Cohen
The University of Arizona
Department of Geosciences
Gould-Simpson Building #77
1040 E 4th St., Room 326
Tucson, AZ 85721


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