Femke obtained both her BA (European Prehistory & Science-based Archaeology) and research MA (Human Origins) at Leiden University. During her studies she developed a strong interest in human evolution and archaeometry, which come together in her research focus on early fire use. For her RMA thesis, Femke conducted a laboratory-based experimental study testing the influence of pH on the preservation potential and temperature signal of charred bone and wood. In 2012 she was appointed Academy Assistant in the KNAW funded project Cuisine Pétrifié, which aimed at using luminescence techniques to identify potential cooking stones from the Middle Palaeolithic site Neumark-Nord 2/2 (Germany). Upon graduating in 2014, Femke started as a junior researcher with the Leiden Human Origins Group, working on a project focusing on the effect of heat on the physical and chemical properties of bone.
Femke is currently a PhD researcher with the Human Origins Group. Expanding on her RMA thesis, Femke’s research focuses on the geochemical preservation of organic fire traces in the Palaeolithic record. The research lies at the intersection of archaeology, geology and organic chemistry and aims to use laboratory-based experimentation combined with a wide range of analytical techniques in order to better understand 1) how fire affects different organic materials and 2) when and where these fire traces may or may not preserve in the archaeological record. By improving the way fire remains are studied in the Palaeolithic record, the research will provide the fundamental data needed to refine the timeframe of the origins of fire use and contribute to defining it’s role in human evolution. Femke’s laboratory work is carried out with the support of colleagues (and facilities) from the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (Gorlaeus).