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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Cecile Porchier

Cécile Porchier


Department of Geography
University College London
North-West Wing


London NERC DTP:

Professor Mark Maslin
Doctor Tom Hill (Natural History Museum)

Funded by:

Current research

PhD Title: Climate variability and human evolution: a perspective from the Ol Njorowa Gorge, Kenya

Abstract: Africa is widely known to be the place where most of the hominin species have evolved. East Africa, in particular, is one of the areas where hominin species were able to thrive, they may also have been endemic there, and scientists found the earliest evidence of Mode 3 technologies (Middle Stone Age, MSA). The role of climate is believed to play a key role in hominin evolution and dispersion, as the East African climate shows important disparities with both tropical forest and deserts being present (dry and humid climate settings). Many studies showed that changes in these climate settings may have influenced hominin speciation and dispersion; however, few of them have focused on annual to decadal climate variability.

The purpose of this PhD is to reconstruct the climate variability in East Africa at annual to decadal timescales through the integration of a suite of biological and geochemical proxy records. The study site is located in the Ol Njorowa Gorge in Kenya, immediately west of the African Rift Valley, from where important hominin dispersals are believed to have taken place. The study site preserves a stratigraphic record of interbedded diatomite beds spanning a key period of theorised hominin dispersals; 150,000 to 80,000 years ago.


Academic qualifications

2018 – Present, University College London and Natural History Museum
London NERC DTP PhD Candidate

2014 – 2016, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France
MSc Earth, Land Processes and Ocean (First Class)
MSc Dissertation: ‘The North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre Variability in a global climate model and a conceptual model’ (done at the University of Bern, Switzerland)

2011 – 2014, Université of Grenoble and University of Toulon, France
BSc Physics and Chemistry (First Class)