isotopic analysis of environmental proxy archives, reconstruction of environment and climate change during human history and pre-history, geochronology
Morocco, Central America, Iran, Borneo
I am a postdoctoral researcher with a specialisation in isotope geochemistry and palaeoclimate reconstructions. My research is focused on developing past climate records in human occupied areas from the Middle Stone Age to present. Using proxy records, I investigate the magnitude and speed of change that the natural system (pre-industrial revolution) is capable of, and how past historic and pre-historic civilisations dealt with these changes. I construct past rainfall and temperature proxy records by analysing isotopic signatures recorded in small mammal teeth (apatite) and cave carbonates. I collaborate with atmospheric scientists and climate modellers to transform individual site data points into an atmosphere dynamics understanding of past changes in the large-scale climate system. Key internal and external “forcings” (or triggers) of environmental change on the timescales I am interested in include changes in solar radiation strength, atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, land ice volume, sea ice extent, and large-scale ocean circulation strength.
My PhD research (2010-2014) focused on equatorial Indo-Pacific convective rainfall variability over the last glacial period, using stalagmite isotopic evidence from samples collected in Borneo (supervisors Prof Kim Cobb and Prof Jess Adkins). During my PhD I was trained in U-Th radiogenic isotope analysis using a multi-ion counter MC-ICP-MS in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech for U-Th age model construction. In 2014-2018 I moved to the University of Oxford’s Department of Earth Sciences and led the climate and environmental section of a project investigating influences on prehistoric human development in Iran (PI Rich Walker). I continued this research at the University of Innsbruck with Prof Christoph Spötl from 2018-2020. In 2020-2023 I joined a project on human-climate-environment interactions in the lowlands of northern Yucatan in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge (PI David Hodell). My current work in the Archaeology Department at the University of Oxford involves analysing stable isotopes from the teeth of small mammals as a proxy for past humidity shifts and vegetation cover in Morocco, spanning the period of the evolution of Homo sapiens in this region (last ~300,000 years) (CAVES project, PIs Nick Barton, Amy Styring, Victoria Smith).