Dr Rebecca Hamilton

BSc (Hons), PhD (USyd)
Postdoctoral Fellow
College of Asia & the Pacific
T: +61 4 6125 0308

Areas of expertise

  • Palaeoecology 060206
  • Palaeontology (Incl. Palynology) 040308
  • Sedimentology 040310
  • Ecological Impacts Of Climate Change 050101

Research interests

palaeoecology, tropical palynology, sedimentology, Cambodia, Indonesia, ecological resilience


Rebecca is a palaeoecologist with a background in geography and geology. Her current research is focused on decadal- to glacial- scale ecosystem and landscape reconstruction in tropical south-east Asia to assess long-term climate patterns for the region, and address questions of ecological resilience to climatic forcing and human disturbance. 

As a postdoctoral fellow at the ANU, Rebecca is involved in a multi-disciplinary ARC Discovery Project - The pace and rhythm of climate: 600,000 years in biological hotspot - led by Dr. Janelle Stevenson (ANU), Dr. Marco Coolen (Curtin University) and Prof. James Russell (Brown University). Her role focuses on using palynological techniques to produce a ~600,000 year long terrestrial vegetation and fire record for Sulawesi, Indonesia. In conjunction with complementary ancient sedimentary DNA records, this reconstruction will be used to examine the response of the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool to long-term global climate change.

Rebecca has also been awarded the 2019 State Library of NSW's Merewether Fellowship, under which she will be working on reconstructing the 19th century history of Sydney's water supplies to test assumptions about the "natural" and cultural values assigned to place. This project plays into her interest in using historical data (including maps) and palaeoenvironmental data to improve conservation policy, particularly in urban settings.

Prior to undertaking her postdoctoral fellowship, Rebecca completed her Ph.D and undergraduate studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her Ph.D project used palynology, sedimentology and geochemistry to generate a high resolution Holocene record of seasonally dry tropical forest response to monsoon shifts and fire events in Cambodia. This was used to predict dry forest response to future shifts in the Asian monsoon, and question the applicability of generalised biome-scale global precipitation threshold modelling to the dry forests of south-east Asia.

Professionally, Rebecca has worked as a field engineering geologist, and assisted with the development of catchment management policy for the Sydney metropolitan region. She has been a sessional lecturer for several geoscience courses at the Australian Catholic University and the University of Sydney. 


Researcher's projects

Title: Conservation mapping: a case study of Sydney’s 19th century water reserves

Brief Description: This project will marry palaeoecological and historic data to determine the actual history of places now regarded as significant natural and historic landscapes, including Sydney's 19th century water reserves. It aims to test claims of ‘pristine’ environments thought to have escaped European development.

Funding Body: State Library of NSW Merewether Fellowship (2019) 


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Updated:  22 October 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers