University of St Andrews


William Austin


I graduated with a B.Sc. (hons.) degree in Geology from University College London in 1986. In the same year, I moved to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth to complete a M.Sc. degree (awarded 1988) in Micropalaeontology. I returned to UCL Geography in late 1987 to work on a short contract with Professor Rick Battarbee FRS. My Ph.D. at the School of Ocean Sciences, University of Wales, supervised by Professor James Scourse (in collaboration with the British Geological Survey), was awarded in 1991. Following my Ph.D., I held a Royal Society of London postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bergen, Norway, working primarily with Professor Hans Petter Sejrup. After joining the Nordic Antarctic Research Expedition to the Weddell Sea over the winter 1992/93, I moved to the Grant Institute, University of Edinburgh; first holding a NERC-funded postdoctoral fellowship to work with Professor Dick Kroon, later holding a BP/Royal Society of Edinburgh personal fellowship. In 1996, I was appointed as Lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Durham. Missing Scotland, I was appointed as Reader at St Andrews in 1999, then Professor in 2015. 

My research focus is directed primarily at reconstructing past climate change from marine records, with a particular focus on the late Quaternary. I work extensively with foraminifera and have a growing research interest in the use of biogeochemical proxies and their application to foraminiferal-based palaeoceanography. Over the last decade, I have established a research interest in the application of tephrochronology to constrain North Atlantic stratigraphies, an interest which overlaps with recent work on marine radiocarbon reservoir ages. The primary geographical focus of my research is the North Atlantic continental margins and shelf seas.


  • NERC Peer Review College


Research Interests

  • Quaternary Environmental Change 
  • Palaeoceanography 
  • North West European Shelf Sea 
  • Tephrachronology and Radiocarbon Dating 
  • Benthic Foraminifera as palaeoenvironmental indicators


Postgraduate Students

  • Peggy Hodgson 
  • Nikki Khana 
  • Keziah Stott