jonathan dean

Dr Jonathan Dean

Lecturer in Physical Geography / Deputy Director of Admissions (Physical Geography)

Faculty of Science and Engineering

+44 (0) 1482 463138

Jonathan started as a lecturer in physical geography at the University of Hull in February 2017.

He is a Quaternary scientist, using stable isotope analysis of lake sediments to reconstruct past changes in hydroclimate.

Jonathan is currently working in two parts of the world: in Ethiopia looking at climate changes over multiple glacial-interglacial cycles and in Turkey investigating changes over the late glacial and Holocene.

He teaches on a number of modules from foundation year to third year.


Research Interests

  • The use of changes in oxygen and carbon isotope ratios in lake carbonates to reconstruct past changes in climate between wet and dry, in mid and low latitudes during the Quaternary.
  • Understanding how climate changed in the past, and the mechanisms behind these changes, so that we’re able to accurately predict how it will change in the future.
  • How climate changes may have influenced the course of human history, from the time of our evolution in eastern Africa, to the development of agriculture in the Middle East.

Research groups

Current research projects

2017-present: Stable isotope analysis of stromatolites that grew in the Holocene in Ethiopia to investigate the rapidity of the African Humid Period termination. PIs: Dr Jonathan Dean, Dr Tim Raub (St Andrews).

2015-present: Stable isotope analysis of carbonates from a ~280 metre core sequence drilled from Chew Bahir, a palaeo-lake in southern Ethiopia, as part of the NERC project ‘A 500,000-year environmental record from Chew Bahir, south Ethiopia: testing hypotheses of climate-driven human evolution, innovation, and dispersal’. PI: Prof Henry Lamb (Aberystwyth). This project is part of the wider Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project, PI: Prof Andrew Cohen (Arizona), which aims to produce palaeoenvironmental records from five sites in eastern Africa, each being close to globally significant hominin sites. Funded by ICDP, NSF, NERC Standard Grant, DFG.

2015-present: Stable isotope analysis of carbonates from a ~40 metre core sequence from Chew Bahir, as part of the Collaborative Research Centre 806 Our Way to Europe project at the University of Cologne, PIs: Prof Frank Schäbitz and Prof Bernd Wagner (Cologne).

2012-present: Stable isotope analysis of carbonates from Nar Gölü, a lake in Cappadocia in central Turkey, as part of the NERC project ‘Climate Change and the Plague of Justinian’, examining the changes in climate that took place at the same time as the Plague of Justinian. PI: Prof Neil Roberts (Plymouth).

2010-present: Stable isotope analysis of carbonates, diatoms and organics from a ~22 metre core sequence taken from Nar Gölü, that extends from the present day back to ~14,000 years ago.


Dean J R, Jones M D, Leng M J, Metcalfe S E, Sloane H J, Eastwood W J, Roberts C N, 'Seasonality of Holocene Hydroclimate in the Eastern Mediterranean Reconstructed Using the Oxygen Isotope Composition of Carbonates and Diatoms from Lake Nar, Central Turkey', The Holocene (2017)

Roberts C N, Allcock S L, Arnaud F, Dean J R, Eastwood W J, Jones M D, Leng M J, Metcalfe S E, Malet E, Woodbridge J, Yiğitbaşıoğlu H, 'A Tale of Two Lakes: a Multi-Proxy Comparison of Late Glacial and Holocene Environmental Change in Cappadocia, Turkey', Journal of Quaternary Science, 31, pp 348-362 (2016)

Dean J R, Jones M D, Leng M J, Noble S R, Metcalfe S E, Sloane H J, Sahy D, Eastwood W J, Roberts C N, 'Eastern Mediterranean Hydroclimate over the Late Glacial and Holocene, Reconstructed from the Sediments of Nar lake, Central Turkey, Using Stable Isotopes and Carbonate Mineralogy', Quaternary Science Reviews, 124, pp 162-174 (2015)

Dean J R, Eastwood W J, Roberts C N, Jones M , Yiğitbaşıoğlu H, Allcock S L, Woodbridge J, Metcalfe S E, Leng M J, 'Tracking the Hydro-Climatic Signal from Lake to Sediment: a Field Study from Central Turkey', Journal of Hydrology, 529, pp 608-621 (2015)

Dean J R, Leng M J, Mackay A W, 'Is there an Isotopic Signature of the Anthropocene?', The Anthropocene Review, 1, pp 276-287 (2014)

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Foundation Physical Geography (Convenor)
  • Field Study Almeria
  • Dissertation
  • Quaternary Geoscience
  • Water Resources
  • Exploring Worlds Around Us
  • Interpreting Environments
  • Environmental Change (Convenor)
  • Global Challenge: Living in the Anthropocene

Research PhDs

Jonathan welcomes applications for postgraduate supervision in his areas of expertise.

Current PhD supervisions

  • Robyn Seymour-Jones, Quaternary Evolution of Mediterranean Lakes, co-supervisor with Dr Jane Reed and Prof Daniel Parsons (2017- )

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • PhD School of Geography, University of Nottingham, 2014
  • BSc Hons, Geography, University of Nottingham

Awards and accolades

  • £24,000 NERC Isotope Facilities grant IP/1711/0517, 2017, PI
  • £41,933 NERC Isotope Facilities grant IP/1623-0516, 2016, Co-I with Prof Melanie Leng
  • Honorary Fellow, School of Geography, University of Nottingham, 2015-2018
  • £114,500 NERC Isotope Facilities grants IP/1198/1110, IP/1237/0511, IP/1350/1112 and IP/1346/1112, 2010-2012, as student with PI Dr Matthew Jones
  • £70,000 NERC PhD studentship NE/I528477/1, 2010-2014