Richard Smith

I gained my BSc in Geography from the University of Southampton in 2011, during which I got my first taste of palaeoecological research. My undergraduate dissertation involved ‘chironomid’ analysis of a transect of Alaskan lakes.  This project won the QRA national undergraduate dissertation prize for 2011.  I then went on to complete my MSc in Applied Meteorology and Climatology from the University of Birmingham in 2012.  During this course, I picked up a particular interest in climate modelling.  My postgraduate thesis focused on the statistical downscaling of GCM simulated precipitation for the past millennium.  Part of this project involved comparisons of the model output to palaeoclimatic reconstructions.

After completing my MSc, I took a couple of years out of academia working as a web/software developer in Skipton, North Yorkshire.  Then in 2014 I made the move down to the University of Reading to start my NERC funded PhD in Environmental Science.  My PhD project is focused on improving understanding of the long term impact of drought upon Amazonian forests.  Particular focus will be on what we can learn from comparing the geographic distribution of the ecotonal regions of southwest Amazonia under today’s humid climate versus the much drier climate of the mid-Holocene (~6 ka BP).  This will involve a palaeoecological reconstruction of mid-Holocene vegetation using fossil pollen from a transect of Amazonian lakes, as well as a combination of remote-sensing, GIS and environmental modelling techniques.

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