PCRG February

March 7, 2014

William on Bainbridge

My first fieldwork from the OU, in 2005, was pollen trapping on the Galapagos. Here I am looking beardy on Bainbridge.

February was an exciting month for me principally because of the finalization of my move to the University of Amsterdam (UvA) where I will become head of Paleo and Landscape Ecology in September. The decision to leave The Open University (OU) has been a difficult one. When I joined the OU as a RCUK Research Fellow in Ecosystem Science in 2005 I would not have believed that I would be in a position to take on a job such as the one in Amsterdam only nine years later. Building the group here during the last nine years has been a lot of fun and I have got to work with some great people. Stand out moments include:

  • Obtaining my first grant as Principle Investigator (c. US$20,000 from the National Geographic for field work in Bolivia),
  • Recruiting, and graduating, my first PhD research students (Joe Williams and Macarena Cardenas),
  • Being invited to participate in large international research efforts (notably the Lake Bosumtwi project),
  • Co-editing my first book (Bush et al., 2011), having my first student to publish a paper getting it in Science (Cardenas et al., 2011), and helping to write a popular science text co-published by the Natural History Museum (Silvertown et al., 2011)

There have been many more amazing things here but I don’t want to swamp this post with a retrospective of my OU career…

Ongoing excitement within the PCRG is happening on a number of fronts:

  • The development of the Bosumtwi pollen chemistry project. We had a “BosChem” team meeting in Nottingham, hosted by Co-I Barry Lomax, at which we discussed some exciting new developments on our understanding of the chemical degradation of pollen during processing, and advances in pollen chemotaxonomy.
  • New data on past environmental change from the Amazon basin with Hayley’s data collection phase coming to a close (all pollen counted), and Nick opening up new cores and starting analysis from brand new sites, we hope to have new insights into the dynamics in this ecologically important region soon.

Bush, M.B., Flenley, J.R. & Gosling, W.D. (eds) (2011) Tropical Rainforest Responses to Climatic Change, 2nd edn. Springer/Praxis, Chichester.

Cárdenas, M.L., Gosling, W.D., Sherlock, S.C., Poole, I., Pennington, R.T. & Mothes, P. (2011) The response of vegetation on the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change. Science, 331, 1055-1058.

Silvertown, J., Gosling, W.D., Halliday, T., O’Donnell, D., Robinson, D., Sarre, P., Skelton, P., Freeland, J. & Roberts, C. (2010) Fragile Web what next for nature? Natural History Museum, London.

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