I serve as Director of Undergraduate Studies and am the primary advisor for Geological Sciences juniors and seniors. I also meet with freshmen and sophomores regularly. I lead efforts to recruit majors and expand our undergraduate program. As part of my research mission, I focus on doing research with undergraduates, and try to encourage others to make similar opportunities available, particularly through EES’s Alumni Undergraduate Research Fellowship program.
I am also the point person on UKCore education in earth sciences, the selection of courses the department offers to fulfill the “Intellectual Inquiry in the Natural and Physical Sciences” requirement. We attempt to design these courses to appeal to a wide variety of non-science majors while, most importantly, improving science and information literacy.
Broad interests: I am interested in what fossils can tell us about evolution, extinction, and ecology during one of most fascinating periods in life’s history, the transition from the Cambrian Explosion to the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE), and then to the end-Ordovician mass extinction. I particularly focus on linguliform brachiopods and other phosphatic fossils.
Main projects: The triggering mechanisms for the GOBE are not well understood, but the event is generally seen as a Middle Ordovician event. In North America, the GOBE is proceeded by a series of trilobite extinction events (“biomeres”) which may set the stage for the GOBE. Brachiopods are both a key component of the Cambrian fauna (linguliform brachiopods) and the Paleozoic fauna (rhynchonelliform brachiopods), and I am currently investigating the effects of these extinction events on both groups through three biomeres in the Great Basin, Texas, and Oklahoma.
The first of the “Big Five” extinction events closes out the end of the Ordovician, an event generally linked to glaciation. The timing of the onset of the glaciation and its links to other events, such as the onset of the Taconic Orogeny are not well constrained, but the sedimentary record of the epeiric sea offers paleoenvironmental clues. Abundant phosphate, primarily as phosphatic fossils, in some Upper Ordovician Laurentian epeiric sea strata has been linked to upwelling and changing patterns of oceanic circulation, which in turn has been interpreted to signal the onset of glaciation and climate change. I am working with a group to test this hypothesis through detailed taphonomic and stratigraphic investigation of these occurrences in the Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana area.
Related interests: Taphonomy, Stratigraphy, Trace fossils, Predator/prey interactions, Shell beds, Biostratigraphy
PUBLICATIONS: PAPERS (*student co-author)
Miller, J.F., Dattilo, B.F., Ethington, R.L., and Freeman, R.L. 2015. Polyfocal photos of microfossils using petrographic microscopes. Annales de Palaeontologie.
Miller, J.F., Evans, K.E., Freeman, R.L., Ripperdan, R.L., and Taylor, J.F. 2014. The Proposed GSSP for the base of the Lawsonian Stage (Cambrian Stage 10) at the First Appearance Datum of the conodont Eoconodontus notchpeakensis (Miller, 1969) in the House Range, Utah, USA. GFF.
Freeman, R.L., B.F. Dattilo, *A. Morse, *M. Blair, S. Felton, and J. Pojeta, Jr., 2013. The Curse of Rafinesquina: Negative taphonomic feedback exerted by strophomenid shells on storm-buried lingulids in the Cincinnatian Series (Katian, Ohio) of Ohio. PALAIOS, 28, 359-372.
Freeman, R.L. and J.F. Miller, 2011. Lingulate brachiopods from the Upper Cambrian (Sunwaptan) Hellnmaria Member of the Notch Peak Formation, western Utah. Memoirs of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists 42, 37–74. https://ees.as.uky.edu/sites/default/files/faculty_publications/Freeman%...
Miller, J.F., K.R. Evans, R.L. Freeman, R.L. Ripperdan, and J.F. Taylor 2011. Proposed stratotype for the base of the Lawsonian Stage (Cambrian Stage 10) at the First Appearance Datum of Eoconodontus notchpeakensis (Miller) in the House Range, Utah, USA. Bulletin of Geosciences86(3):595–620. http://www.geology.cz/bulletin/contents/art1255
Freeman, R. L. and J.F. Miller, 2011. First report of a larval shell repair scar on a lingulate brachiopod: Evidence of durophagous predation in the Cambrian pelagic realm? Journal of Paleontology 85(4), 697–704. https://ees.as.uky.edu/sites/default/files/faculty_publications/Rebecca%...
Freeman, R.J., and Stitt, J.H. 1996. Upper Cambrian and lowest Ordovician articulate brachiopods from the Arbuckle and Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma. Journal of Paleontology 70(3),355–372.
PUBLICATIONS: ABSTRACTS (Last 3 to 4 years)
Dattilo, B.F., Freeman, R.L., Reeder, J.L.*, Straw, A.*, Aucoin, C.*, Brett, C.E., and Agast, A. 2015. Taphonomic comparisons of two Laurentian Upper Ordovician epeiric sea "small shelly faunas". 12th International Symposium on the Ordovician System.
Dattilo, B.F., Reeder, J., Freeman, R.L., and Argast, A. 2015. Ordivician small shelly fauna from the Elgin Member of the Maquoketa: Ecologically dwarfed or taphonomically biased? Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Freeman, R.L., Ethington, R.L., Miller, J.F., and Dattilo, B.F., 2014, Tectonic complications in correlating the Sauk-Tippecanoe megasequence boundary between western and eastern Laurentia: clues from conodont biostratigraphy. Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Dattilo, B.F., Freeman, R.L., Heimbrock, W.P., Martin, A.J., and Argast, A., 2014, Giants among micromorphs: phosphatic steinkerns are small because of taphonomic size-selectivity, not ecological stress. Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Sparr, J.P.*, and Freeman, R.L., 2014, Rapid burial and unusual preservation of a crinoid garden in the Mississippian Borden Formation of south central Kentucky. National Council on Undergraduate Research Annual Meeting
Sparr, J.P.*, and Freeman, R.L., 2014, Snapshot of phosphate nodule formation in the Mississipian Borden Formation, Kentucky: A crinoid obrution event as a source of phosphorus. Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Freeman, R.L., and Dattilo, B.F., 2014, How many shells are in a shell bed? Mixed taphonomy and shell destruction in a time-rich storm-disturbed Cincinnatian (Ordovician, Katian) shell bed. Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Freeman, R.L., Fischer, S*., Dattilo, B.F., Schramm, T*., Brett, C.E., Mosser, S*., Blair, M.*, and Chakraborty, S. 2013. Can carbon-isotopes constrain high-resolution stratigraphy of Ordovician shallow water facies in the Cincinnati, Ohio region? Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs
Freeman, R.L., 2013. Can ninety-nine non-science majors design and execute research projects in an introductory Oceanography class? Using simple geographic visualization tools and real-world data to improve engagement and achieve mandated learning outcomes. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs
Miller, J.F., Evans, K.E., Freeman, R.L., Ripperdan, R.L., and Taylor, J.F. 2013.The Proposed GSSP for the base of the Lawsonian Stage (Cambrian Stage 10) at the First Appearance Datum of the conodont Eoconodontus notchpeakensis (Miller, 1969) in the House Range, Utah, USA, in, Lindskog, A., and Melqvist, K., eds., Proceedings of the 3rd IGCP 591 Annual Meeting, p. 226–228.
Dattilo, B. F., R. L. Freeman, T. Gerke, C. E. Brett, P. I. McLaughlin,T. J. Schramm, D. L. Meyer, A. Morse* and M. Mason. 2013. From lagerstatte to lag: Preliminary bedding-scale taphonomic and geochemical analysis of phosphate distribution in the Cincinnatian. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs
Freeman, R.L,, Dattilo, B.F., Morse, A.*, Blair, M.*, Felton, S., and Pojeta, John J., Jr. 2012. Stirred not shaken: Using taphonomy to reconstruct paleoecological succession and taphonomic feedback in a Cincinnatian (Ordovician, Ohio) storm-disturbed shell bed. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 44(7), 273.
Hassan, C.B.S.I., C. E. Schwalbach, C. E. Brett,J. R. Thomka, R. L. Freeman, and D. M. Haneberg-Diggs, 2012. Ghosts of vanished shell beds: Taphonomic and stratigraphic implications of an Upper Ordovician (450-455 million years old) bryozoan bonanza on a bivalve shell pavement, Central Kentucky.Proceedings of the 2nd IGCP 591 Annual Meeting, p. 18
Freeman, R. L., B. F. Dattilo, A. Morse*, M. Blair*, B. A. Utesch*, S. Felton, and J. Pojeta, Jr. 2012. The brachiopod trap: What their oldest (Upper Ordovician, Ohio) failed escape burrows tell us about the evolution of burrowing in lingulids. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 44(5), 18.
Ethington, R. L., J. F. Miller, B. F. Dattilo, and R. L. Freeman. 2012. Conodont biostratigraphy across a conformable Sauk-Tippecanoe megasequence boundary, western central Utah. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 44(5), 1.
Mosser, S.*, T. J. Schramm*, B. F. Dattilo, C. Brett, R. L. Freeman, and M. Blair*. 2012. Fine-scale lithologic variations in Late Ordovician (Katian) peritidal deposits of the Kentucky Bluegrass region suggest sea-level fluctuations as the primary mechanism for type Cincinnatian meter-scale cycles. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 44(5), 16.
Freeman, R. L., J. F. Miller, L. E. Holmer, and M. Streng. 2011. Lingulate brachiopod extinction and global migration coinciding with three Laurentian trilobite extinction events during the Late Cambrian–earliest Ordovician. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(5), 543.
Dattilo, B. F., J. F. Miller, R. L. Freeman, and R. L. Ripperdan. 2011. How conodonts, brachiopods, carbon isotopes and sequence stratigraphy moved the Cambrian-Ordovician boundary in Nevada. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(5), 375.
Miller, J. F., B. F. Dattilo, K. R. Evans, R. L. Freeman, J. F. Loch, J. E. Repetski, R. L. Ripperdan, A. C. Runkel, and J. F. Taylor. 2011. Integrating bio-, chemo-, gamma-ray-, litho-, and sequence stratigraphy in the Upper Cambrian and Lower Ordovician: Progress toward a comprehensive stratigraphic framework. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(5), 376.
Freeman, R. L. and J. F. Miller. 2011. New lingulate brachiopods from Upper Cambrian and lowest Ordovician (Millardan/Ibexian) strata in central Texas: Correlations with the Great Basin, Wyoming and Beyond. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(3), 5.
Dattilo, B. F., R. L. Freeman, B. A. Utesch, S. Felton, and J. Pojeta, Jr. 2011. An unusual association of Pseudolingula and Rafinesquina from the Upper Ordovician of Ohio. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(1), 69.