Dr. Stephen J. Culver

Harriot College Distinguished Professor



Stephen J. Culver,


252 328 6606




  • Sc. Geology, University of Wales, Swansea, U.K., 1973
  • D. Oceanography and Marine Geology, University of Wales, Swansea, U.K., 1976
  • Post-doctoral Research, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1978-1982
  • Culver CV

Research Interests

I study foraminifera – single celled animal-like protists with a secreted or agglutinated shell that have an extensive fossil record ranging back to the early Cambrian. I concentrate on the distribution and ecology of modern benthic (ocean floor-dwelling) foraminifera around the world and use the knowledge gained to interpret the paleoecology of fossil foraminifera and to reconstruct paleoenvironments in the Cenozoic, in particular. Much of my work has been on the east coasts of North America and peninsular Malaysia but I have also worked on the foraminifera from Europe, Australasia, South America and the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. My recent research has been on a) reconstructing Quaternary paleoenvironments and Holocene climate and sea-level change in North Carolina and b) documenting the distribution of modern benthic foraminifera off Malaysia and using that information to interpret late Quaternary environmental change on the Sunda Shelf. My research informs us of what environmental changes have taken place in the past and indicates the range of changes that are possible in the future in a warming world.

Recent Graduate Student MS. Theses

A. Cressman, 2022. Defining the response of allow gradient coastal system to rapid sea-level change during
the late Pleistocene (non-thesis research paper).
C. Allen, 2022. Foraminiferal and sedimentological indicators of hurricane impact on inner shelf and coastal
environments, North Carolina, USA (non-thesis research paper).
E.K. Gudmunson, 2022. Defining the stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental record of rapid sea-level rise during
the late Pleistocene to Holocene in the Albemarle Sound region of North Carolina.
W. Spivey, 2021. Benthic foraminiferal assemblage and sedimentological changes within the Pliocene
Yorktown Formation, southeastern Virginia.
S. Sutton, 2020. Foraminiferal community dynamics of the Chesapeake Group, Calvert Cliffs, Maryland, USA.

Recent Publications

Shmorhun, N.M., Culver, S.J., Mallinson, D.J., Farrell, K.M., Cressman, A., Grove, A., Howie, L., Lynn, A., Sutton, S., Twarog, M., Riggs, S.R. 2022. Characterizing modern and Holocene barrier island environments with foraminiferal assemblages: an example from a wave-dominated,
microtidal barrier island, North Carolina, USA. Palaios, 37: 443-470.

Twarog, M.R., Culver, S.J., Mallinson, D.J., Leorri, E., Horsman, E., Donovan, B., Harrison, E.I., Hindes, H., Reed, D., Shazili, N.A.M., Parham,P.R., 2021. Depositional environments and sequence stratigraphy of post-last glacial maximum incised valley-fill, Malay Basin, Sunda Shelf, offshore peninsular Malaysia. Marine Geology, 436, doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2021.106457 (27 p.)

Culver, S.J., Sutton, S.R., Mallinson, D.J., Buzas, M.A., Robinson, M.M., Dowsett, H.J. 2021. Miocene neritic benthic foraminiferal community dynamics, Calvert Cliffs, Maryland, USA: species pool, patterns and processes. Palaios, 36: 1-13.

Culver, S.J., Twarog, M.R., Mallinson, D.J., Shazili, N.A.M., and Bidai, J. 2020. Distribution of Foraminifera off the Terengganu River mouth, east coast peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 50: 330-341.

Culver, S.J., and Buzas-Stephens, P. 2020. Cushman Special Publications: History and Scope. Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 50: 403-411.

Mulligan, R.P., Mallinson, D.J., Clunies, G.J., Rey, A., Culver, S.J., Zaremba, N., Leorri, E., Mitra, S. 2019. Estuarine responses to long-term changes in inlets, morphology and sea-level rise. Journal of Geophysical Research Ocean, 124: 9235-9257.




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