I joined ICREA in 2008. Following a PhD in the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, I worked on projects based in Hungary, Scotland and Papua New Guinea. From 1997-2005 I co-directed the Scotland's First Settlers project which explored the early post glacial environment and human population around the Isle of Skye, Scotland. In 2005 I was awarded a Marie Curie OIF to visit the University of Sydney where I set up an international project on the survival of ancient starch granules and their potential to inform about past human diets. My return phase took place at the University of York where I remain a research associate.
My interest lies in early prehistoric periods before the adoption of farming; specifically, pioneer populations, human adaptations, land and sea-scapes and use of wild resources. Access to biographical details including food and medicinal plants, inhaled environmental contamination and raw materials can be obtained from extraction of chemical compounds and microfossils from samples of ancient dental calculus; this is particularly useful for earlier palaeolithic periods where evidence is very limited. An additional geographical focus on North West Scotland is based on the fact that until the mid-Holocene, Britain was still physically attached to continental Europe and this coastline represented part of Europe's continental limit until around 6200 BC. Much of my research focuses on the extent of human use of this complex landscape in the early postglacial periods.