University of St Andrews



My BSc is in Geology and Zoology (Royal Holloway University of London, 1995). My PhD research, supervised by Prof Sir Nick Shackleton, was in Quaternary palaeoclimatology and concerned the relationship between marine and terrestrial records of abrupt climatic change in southern Europe during the last glaciation (University of Cambridge, 2000). I completed a MSc degree in Science Communication (Imperial College London, 2001) and spent a further year working as a freelance science writer. In 2002, I began work as a NERC-funded post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Leeds with Prof Chronis Tzedakis, initially working on marine pollen records of the middle Pleistocene from the Iberian margin and then on terrestrial pollen records of the same interval from Lake Ioannina, Greece.  I was appointed as Lecturer in the School of Geography, University of in Leeds in 2007 and, with colleagues there, established a collaborative research project investigating the long-term history of tropical forests, particularly in Amazonia. I moved to my current post as Lecturer in Physical Geography (Environmental Change) in the School of Geography and Sustainability at the University of St Andrews in August 2014 and am part of the Environmental Change Research Group.



Research Interests

I specialise in long-term ecology (particularly of the middle-late Quaternary) and palaeoclimatology. The focus of my research is the use of palaeoecological methods, in particular sub-fossil pollen and sediments, to reconstruct past vegetation responses to climatic change and anthropogenic activity during the Pleistocene and Holocene. I am currently involved in work on pollen records spanning multiple glacial-interglacial cycles from the Mediterranean region, and on the Holocene history of tropical (particularly Amazonian) peatlands where we are investigating questions of carbon dynamics and ecological change.

  • Long-term ecology
  • Quaternary palaeoecology
  • Pollen analysis in ocean, lake and peat records
  • Mediterranean palaeoclimate reconstruction
  • Long term dynamics of tropical forests
  • Tropical peatlands



Postgraduate Students

  • Robert Barbour (NERC CASE/University of St Andrews): Holocene perspectives on the ecology of moorland burning in northern England. Other supervisors: Dr Althea Davies (St Andrews), Miles Johnson (Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority). Started September 2016.
  • Freddie Draper (NERC): Amazonian peatland forest ecosystems: past, present and future
  • Thomas Kelly (NERC): The environmental history of abandoned river channels and peatlands in the Peruvian Amazon (Completed)