I am an archaeological scientist interested in exploring the articulation between material culture, genetics and biogeography to further theoretical, methodological and scientific advances in the field of human evolution. I am the 'Lise Meitner' Independent Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany where I head the Pan-African Evolution and ERC funded IslandLab research groups.
I am also an affiliated Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Malta, my alma mater, and Reader in the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Cologne. Prior to my current position, I held a number of independent postdoctoral fellowships, won by open competition, including a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, a British Academy Fellowship at the University of Oxford with a Junior Research Fellowship at Jesus College, and a Fyssen Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Bordeaux. I obtained my PhD at the University of Southampton in 2013.
My research groups combine primary fieldwork with a range of different modelling approaches using palaeoecological and genetic data, in order to test different hypotheses about human evolution and the deep human past. I am running a number of different projects within the framework of my Pan-African Evolution Research Group, and my IslandLab Research Group. My key research themes are:
- The population structure of early Homo sapiens in Africa and intra-African dispersals
- Pleistocene West Africa and the role of rainforests in human evolution
- Early Homo sapiens dispersals out of Africa
- The evolutionary and behavioural context of human diseases and transmission patterns
- Late evolutionary processes in the terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene
- Long term processes of ecosystem resilience in human dominated landscapes
- Island biogeography and impacts of human colonisation
- The development of rapid and replicable methods of lithic analysis, producing data that can be combined with other sources of information
Please see my Publications page where I list 50+ publications covering these topics.