Trained as a marine biologist, I completed my PhD in Earth and Life Sciences (VU University Amsterdam) in 2011, and worked as postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Archaeology from April 2010 till January 2017. From January 2017 onwards, I continue my work at the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, while remaining affiliated to the Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden. My VU address is: De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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Presently my research consists of three ongoing projects:
TURKANA: This project focuses on reconstructing climate and environment in the Turkana Basin (Kenya) of ~2 million year ago, when two early Homo species together with Paranthropus boisei roamed the landscape. It is done in the framework of the ICDP Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP), and the Turkana Cyclostratigraphy Project (see NWO and Feibel's Lab). In 2013, a core was drilled in West Turkana paleolake deposits, and we did a complementary outcrop fieldwork near the drill site. The first articles are now in review and will be published in the course of 2017.
COASTAL ORIGINS? In 2013 I was awarded a NWO Veni Grant and started this project (see Leiden news) that aims to develop a biogeographical framework for early hominin evolution in Africa, between ~5 and 2.5 million years ago. I hypothesize that recurrent climatically stable episodes, paced by eccentricity, caused recurrent riverine connections between coastal refuge areas and inland marginal areas, including the Chad Basin in West-Central Africa. To assess occurrence and timing of such East-West dispersal corridors, we use genetic distance between extant fish populations in Lakes Turkana and Chad as proxy for past hydrographic connectivity between these basins.
TRINIL: My other research project centers on the rich fossil fauna from the Homo erectus type locality Trinil on Java (Indonesia). This unique collection, excavated by my scientific hero Eugène Dubois (1858-1940) and housed at Naturalis in Leiden, is a treasure trove that may hold many important clues to the behaviour and cognition of Javanese Homo erectus. Following our 2015 publication in Nature (on shell material from the Dubois Collection) we were invited by the National Research Center for Archaeology (ARKENAS, Jakarta) to collaborate in a new field study of this classical site. In August 2016, together we successfully conducted a pilot fieldwork in Trinil that provides a key fundament for future studies. In May 2017, I have been awarded a prestigious NWO Vidi grant to continue our research in Trinil for 5 years.
The Vidi project will start in January 2018 and is titled: Studying Homo erectus Lifestyle and Location (SHeLL): an integrated geo-archaeological research of the hominin site Trinil on Java.
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