Rachael Holmes

University of Leicester


Tracing the Geological Signature of Human-Induced Transformation of the Biosphere in Indonesia.


Prof.. Mark Williams and Prof. Jan Zalasiewicz Dr. Juan Carlos Berrio, Prof. Sarah Gabbott, Prof. Sue Page (University of Leicester) Prof. Iskandar Zulkarnaen Siregar (Bogor Agricultural University) Dr Dan Exton and Dr Tom Martin (Operation Wallacea),

PhD Summary

As the world becomes increasingly globalised, the frequency at which organisms are transported to novel locations increases. Artificial substances such as plastics and fly ash (formed through the combustion of fuels) have also been reported in sediments around the world. These global changes have an impact that is ecological, economic and has the potential to leave a signal in the geological record. This project aims to investigate human impact on the biosphere in the highly bio-diverse Indonesian archipelago, by creating a detailed chronology of biological change in the past that can be used to inform policy decisions in the future.

What inspires you?

I was lucky enough to grow up on the Jurassic Coast and was able to spend a lot of time outside in a beautiful and scientifically important landscape, my interest in the natural world spans from this and many hours of documentary watching.

Previous Activity

Before my PhD, I studied Anthropology (BSc) at Bournemouth University. Alongside my bachelors I was employed as a research assistant, processing sediments for phytoliths from archaeological sites, as well as working on a number of research projects both in the lab and field.

Why did you choose Docotoral Research?

Throughout my degree I worked on archaeological excavations in the United Kingdom, Finland, Romania and Vietnam. Working as part of international and multidisciplinary teams I became increasingly interested in pursuing a research career. When I saw this project advertised, I wanted to take the opportunity to continue learning and working in an area of research that I am passionate about.

Why did you choose a CENTA Studentship?

I chose to do a CENTA studentship because of the emphasis on producing truly inter-disciplinary researchers. I wanted to take advantage of the training that they provide that is traditionally outside of my field to broaden my perspective when it comes to research.

What are your future plans

I want to pursue a career in research and science communication.