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Cal Lutheran Professor Named Inaugural Faculty Fellow

Megan K. Fung will continue her “groundbreaking” research on climate change.

Megan K. Fung, PhD

In recognition of her noteworthy research and exemplary teaching record, Megan K. Fung, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at California Lutheran University, has been selected for the Cal Lutheran Faculty Fellowship Program. 

The 16-month, inaugural fellowship runs through May 2025 and was made possible through a donation by Dr. Laureen Hill ’83 and her husband, Mica Hill. Laureen Hill is a member of the Cal Lutheran Board of Regents. The fellowship honors Fung by underwriting her faculty position and is budget-relieving.

“As part of the Cal Lu alum family, we know firsthand how important inquiry, scholarship and a robust academic community are to the mission of Lutheran higher education,” Hill said. “We are so pleased to be able to recognize and support the important work of Dr. Fung through this Faculty Fellowship Program, and we hope this gift is an inspiration to others who share our commitment to the faculty and students at California Lutheran University.”

“Professor Fung’s research that studies ancient marine sediment to inform contemporary climate change is groundbreaking,” added Cal Lutheran President Lori Varlotta. “She was selected as a Faculty Fellow because of her promising research and because she has inspired countless students through her STEM mentorship.”

Most of Fung’s current research involves looking at marine sediment cores taken from the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. “These cores tell a story of past ocean conditions — temperature, ocean chemistry and sea level — and contain millions of microscopic fossils,” she said. “I am looking at these microfossils to determine if there is a threshold to biotic response following a series of brief and intense warming events. Although these events occurred about 55 million years ago, they are vitally important because they are our best analogs to modern climate change.” 

By evaluating how different ecosystems responded to past periods of environmental stressors, like warming and ocean acidification, Fung can better understand and predict how organisms living in the ocean today might react to contemporary climate change. These results can then inform and help guide policymakers. 

“There’s this common saying in geology: ‘The present is the key to the past’ and in paleoclimatology, we like to flip that to say, ‘The past is a window into the future,’” she added.

Fung earned her doctorate in geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y., in 2017. She joined Cal Lutheran as an assistant professor in 2019. Among her many awards, she received the 2023 CLU College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring.

Her research has been published in prestigious peer-reviewed, academic journals, such as Science and Nature Geoscience. Since joining the university, she has received grants totaling $168,542 related to the student Sustainable Edible Education garden (SEEd garden) — where students grow produce and engage in Cal Lutheran’s sustainability efforts — and was part of a National Science Foundation grant totaling $1,200,000.