Christine A.M. France

Research Physical Scientist


Phone: 301-238-1261
Fax: 301-238-3709
E-mail Address: FranceC [at]

Museum Conservation Institute
Smithsonian Institution
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746


2008.  Ph.D.  University of Maryland College Park
2004.  M.S.  North Carolina State University
2001.  B.S.  University of Maryland College Park

Research Specialties and Interests

My primary field of interest is stable isotope applications to vertebrate paleontology and archeology.  I utilize stable isotopes in well preserved bones and teeth as proxies for ecological influences, diet, climate, demographics, and physiologic mechanisms.  To this end I also study the preservation of vertebrate fossil material with an emphasis on the potential diagenetic alteration of original isotopic values.

In addition to my personal research I manage the Smithsonian OUSS/MCI Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry Laboratory which performs stable isotope analyses (C, N, O, H, S) for all Smithsonian units.  I oversee all users of the facility, provide technical support, and consult on a variety of projects.

Recent Research Activities

My current research focuses on reconstructing diet, mobility, and demographics in archeological populations through stable isotope data.  I have been working with several North American 18th and 19th century sites to determine the best isotope markers for dietary preferences, region of origin, and social class.  Additionally I have been collaborating on several other archaeological sites throughout the world investigating similar questions.  My isotope lab also participates in numerous Smithsonian research projects examining climate, ecology, and provenance from a variety of materials.     

Another main area of my research analyzes the preservation of isotope signals in museum collections.  I am currently collaborating on new methods for determining quality of bone preservation, including Raman spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, and proteomics.                     

I am also examining the effect of different chemical preservation treatments on isotope values in bones and teeth.  I am attempting to determine which treatments result in isotopic exchange between applied chemicals and the original bones/teeth.

Professional Activities

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (member)
Geologic Society of America (member)
NSF Council on Undergraduate Research (member)

Recent Publications

Grissom, C., Vicenzi, E., Giaccai, J., Little, N., France, C., Charola, A.E., and Livingston, R., 2016.  Analysis and Treatment of the fire-damaged marble plaque from Thomas Jefferson’s grave marker.  13th International Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone, Paisley 2016.

Turner, B.L., Condron, L.M., France, C.A.M., Lehman, J., Peltzer, D.A., Richardson, S.J., and Solomon, D., in press 2016.  Sulfur dynamics during long-term ecosystem development.  Biogeochemistry. DOI 10.1007/s10533-016-0208-6. 

West, C.F., and France, C.A., in press 2015.  Human and canid relationships:  a comparative stable isotope analysis of domestic dog (Canis familiaris) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) from Kodiak Island, Alaska.  Journal of Ethnobiology.

France, C.A.M., Owsley, D., 2015. Stable carbon and oxygen isotope spacing between bone and tooth collagen and hydroxyapatite in human archaeological remains.  International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 25:  299-312.

Vaslet, A., Phillips, D.L., France, C., Feller, I.C., and Baldwin, C.C., 2015.  Trophic behavior of juvenile reef fishes inhabiting interlinked mangrove-seagrass habitats in Caribbean offshore mangrove islets.  Journal of Fish Biology 87:  256-273.  DOI: 10.1111/jfb.12715

France, C.A.M., Giaccai, J.A., and Doney, C.R., 2015.  The effects of Paraloid B-72 and Butvar B-98 treatment and organic solvent removal on δ13C, δ15N, and δ18O values of collagen and hydroxyapatite in a modern bone.  American Journal of Physical Anthropology 157:  330-338.  DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22697.

France, C.A.M., Sheppard, P.R., Cano, N., Little, N.C., and Speakman, R.J., 2014.  Stable isotopic and chemical indicators of volcanic eruptions in tree rings from Parícutin, Mexico.  Proceedings of the 38th International Symposium on Archaeometry, Open Journal of Archaeometry 2:  37-42.

France, C.A.M., Thomas, D.B., Doney, C., and Madden, O., 2014.  FT-Raman spectroscopy as a method for screening collagen diagenesis in bone.  Journal of Archaeological Science 42:  346-355.

France, C.A.M., Owsley, D.W, and Hayek, L.C., 2014.  Stable isotope indicators of provenance and demographics in 18th and 19th century North Americans.  Journal of Archaeological Science 42:  356-366.

Moini, M., O’Halloran, A., Peters, A.M., France, C.A.M., Vicenzi, E., DeWitt, T., Langan, E., Walsh, T., Speakman, R.J., 2014.  Understanding irregular shell formation of Nautilus in aquaria:  chemical composition and structural analysis.  Zoo Biology 33:  285-294.

Moini, M., Rollman, C.M., and France, C.A.M., 2013.  Dating human bone; is racemization dating species specific?  Analytical Chemistry 85:  11211-11215.

Ballard, M.W., France, C.A.M., Moini, M., and Solazzo, C., 2012.  Dating silk and other innovations in mass spectrometry.  Textiles Specialty Group of the American Institute for Conservation 22:  56-62.

Vaslet, A., Phillips, D.L., France, C., Feller, I.C., and Baldwin, C.C., 2012.  The relative importance of mangroves and seagrass beds as feeding areas for resident and transient fishes among different mangrove habitats in Florida and Belize:  evidence from dietary and stable-isotope analyses.  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology Ecology 434/435:  81-93.

Vaslet A., France C., Baldwin C.C., and Feller I.C., 2012.  Dietary habits of juveniles of the Mayan cichlid, Cichlasoma urophthalmus, in mangrove ponds of an offshore islet in Belize, Central America.  Neotropical Ichthyology 10:  667-674.

France, C.A.M., Giaccai, J.A., and Cano, N., 2011.  The effects of PVAc treatment and organic solvent removal on the stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope signatures of bone.  Journal of Archaeological Science 38:  3387-3393.

Vaslet A., France C., Phillips D.L., Feller I.C., Baldwin C.C., 2011.  Stable isotope analyses reveal the importance of seagrass beds as feeding areas for juveniles of the speckled worm eel Myrophis punctatus (Teleostei: Ophichthidae) in Florida.  Journal of Fish Biology 79:  692-706.

Marra, P.P., Dove, C.J., Dolbeer, R., Dahlan, N.F., Heacker, M., Whatton, J.F., Diggs, N.E., France, C., and Henkes, G.A., 2009.  Migratory Canada geese cause crash of US Airways Flight 1549.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7(6):  297-301.

France, C.A.M., Zelanko, P.M., Kaufman, A.J., and Holtz, T.R., 2007.  Carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of Pleistocene mammals from the Saltville Quarry (Virginia, USA):  Implications for trophic relationships.  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 249:  271-282.

Recent talks

France, C.A.M., and Grissom, C., 2015.  Carbon and oxygen isotopes as indicators of provenance in cultural artefacts:  a case study of Thomas Jefferson’s tombstone plaque.  MaSC Users Group for Mass Spectrometry and Chromatography 2015 Meeting, Chicago, IL, May 21-22.

France, C.A.M., Thomas, D.B., and Madden, O., 2014.  Raman spectroscopy as a non-destructive method for screening collagen diagenesis in bone.  10th North American Paleontological Convention, Gainesville, FL, February 15-18.

France, C.A.M., 2013.  Smithsonian’s current and emerging role in global climate science – thoughts from the 2013 IPCC report.  Smithsonian Castle Lecture Series, Washington, DC, December 17.

France, C.A.M., and Giaccai, J., 2012.  The effects of consolidant treatments and organic solvent removal on the stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope values of bone collagen and hydroxyapatite.  Eastern Analytical Symposium, Somerset, NJ, November 12-16.

France, C.A.M., Owsley, D., Warmack, A., McGuire, S., Miller, W., 2012.  Stable isotopic evidence (δ13C, δ15N, δ18O) of diet, provenance, and demography from bones and teeth of 18th and 19th century North Americans.  Society of American Archaeology Annual Meeting, Memphis, TN, April 18-21.