Clayton Magill


  • EH14 4AS

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

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None available currently


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

My research characterizes molecular and isotopic compositions of sedimentary organic matter as a tool for reconstructing ancient environmental conditions.  My current projects utilize carbon and deuterium signatures of biomarkers - the molecular remains of algae and plants - to trace hydroclimate and ecosystem fragmentation in eastern Africa during major junctures in human evolution, ca. 6-to-1 million years ago.  In tropical lake systems, deuterium composition of biomarkers reflects local water cycle dynamics, which in turn are sensitive to seasonality, precipitation intensity and monsoon circulation.  Carbon isotope compositions are also linked to hydroclimate through the influences of water on plant community composition and structure.  Recently, I have become interested in the utility of ‘landscape biomarkers’ – such as n-alkylresorcinols – preserved in ancient soils towards mapping wetland environments and spatial distributions of water.  This quantitative approach to environmental reconstruction may provide powerful insights into the immediate selective pressures experienced by early humans.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


  • QE Geology
  • Geoscience
  • Geochemistry
  • Isotopes
  • GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
  • Human evolution
  • Hominin
  • Dietary preference


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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