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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Dr Baldini is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science in Teesside University's School of Life Sciences & Health which she joined in February 2020. Prior to joining Teesside, Dr Baldini was Assistant Professor in Palaeoclimate and Environmental Geochemistry in the Department of Geography at Durham University (since 2016).

From 2008 to 2016, Dr Baldini held two post-doctoral research positions in the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship award for the project, "Reconstructing past changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation using Holocene stalagmite records from central Europe". This project built on her PhD research that identified a strong link between Europe's dominant atmospheric circulation pattern (the NAO) and rainwater isotopes in Central Europe. From 2010 to 2016, Dr Baldini was the Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate on the European Research Council funded HURRICANE Project. This project used geochemical tracers in speleothem carbonate from Caribbean (Belize and Turks and Caicos Islands) and western North Atlantic (Bermuda) sites to produce the highest resolution record of tropical cyclone activity over the past 450 years. Ongoing research will extend this record over the past 2000 years to investigate the impact of Pre-Industrial warming associated with the Medieval Warm Period on North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity.

Dr Baldini earned her PhD in 2008 from University College Dublin, Ireland under the supervision of Professor Frank McDermott. Her PhD entitled, 'An investigation of the controls on the stable isotope signature of meteoric precipitation, cave seepage water, and Holocene stalagmites in Europe' involved a wholistic approach to stalagmite-based palaeoclimate reconstruction along the North Atlantic eastern seaboard. Through this research, Dr Baldini gained expertise in water isotopes as they are modified through atmospheric, soil, and karst processes and finally during precipitation as speleothem carbonate. Dr Baldini's research in La Garma Cave, northern Spain has yielded important insights into climate during the Younger Dryas and the potential for speleothems to record changing seasonality through time. 

Dr Baldini earned her MSc degree from the University of Georgia, USA under the supervision of invertebrate palaeoecologist, Professor Sally Walker. Dr Baldini's MSc project entitled, 'Stable isotopes in terrestrial gastropod carbonate and their palaeoenvironmental implications, San Salavador Island, Bahamas' used stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in the shell carbonate of the land snail Cerion to assess its viability as a low-latitude palaeoenvironmental indicator. Biogenic carbonates are also important indicators of past seasonality, climate, and environment.

 

Summary of Research Interests

My research interests span palaeoclimate reconstruction using biogenic and inorganic carbonates, modern stable isotope systematics in meteoric precipitation and groundwater, and using geochemical fingerprinting to trace human impacts on the environment. In Autumn 2022, I was awarded a two-year highly competitive National Geographic Explorer Level II Grant to explore West Africa for stalagmite-bearing caves and generate the first ever stalagmite palaeoclimate reconstruction for the region. This project represents a multi-national collaboration of academics from Universities in the UK, Morocco, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon. This project will contribute much needed information on pre-Industrial tropical rainfall belt dynamics that can be used to refine model projections of shifting seasonality and extremes under climate change.

In 2019, I led a successful Global Challenges Research Fund-Centre for Doctoral Training (GCRF-CDT) proposal entitled, "Maya subsistence farmer decision-making under climatic uncertainty in Central America". This multi-national collaboration (UK, USA, Belize) takes a unique interdisciplinary research approach combining meteorological monitoring, soil quality assessment, and farmer interviews to document for the first time, the impact of climate extremes and uncertainty on small-share farmers practicing rain-fed agriculture in S Belize. This project is now in its final year with outputs forthcoming. Also in 2019, I joined researchers from Durham University Biosciences and Norway on the a Leverhulme Trust-funded DurhamARCTIC Doctoral Training and Research Centre project to investigate how natural enemies and climate change in Arctic Norway might interact to increase the risk of non-native plant speices invasion over the next several decades. The first output from this project was recently submitted for publication with others to follow. I also co-supervise a SCEDT PhD student (Jan 2023 start) investigating environmental impacts from petroleum exploration and extraction in southern Nigeria and multiple MSc Environmental Management research project students annually. 

I am a long-term collaborator with researchers from the University of Cantabria, Spain on multiple Spanish government funded archaeological investigations of La Garma Cave and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the northern Iberian and Portuguese coasts. These projects are multi-national collaborations that aim to reconstruct the evolution and behaviour of human groups in coastal areas of SW Europe since the Palaeolithic. My palaeoclimate reconstructions at La Garma Cave have provided key insights into the role of climate in modulating human behaviour in northern Spain over the past 14,000 years. 

Since 2010, I have conducted research in southern Belize at Yok Balum cave and across the Toledo District in collaboration with archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, palaeoclimatologists, and conservationists from institutions across the US, Europe, and Belize. This research is yielding important insights into Central American climate variability over the past two millennia with implications for ancient and modern Maya farming communities and the impacts of climate change on food security.

In 2022, I led on a collaboration with Durham Wildlife Trust to investigate microplastics pollution in the River Wear. The results of this study will be published in 2023. I am also involved in ongoing environmental monitoring and water quality investigations at mining impacted sites along the Durham Heritage Coast and the North Pennines. 

 

Research Projects & External Funding

Total Awarded: £966,073 (Total), £400,185 (in external research funding as PI)

  • 2022 National Geographic Society Explorer Grant (Level II) (USD$98,691/£79,333.98) 
  • 2022 Teesside University Seedcorn Grant (PI) (£9,562)            
  • 2021 Teesside University School of Health & Life Sciences Pump Prime Funding (£1,500)     
  • 2021 Spanish Government Grant (Co-I) (€180,290/£151,639) 
  • 2019 Department of Geography (Durham) Research Development Fund (PI) (£1,944) 
  • 2019-2022 Leverhulme Trust-funded DurhamARCTIC Doctoral Training and Research Centre (Co-I) (£145,000) 
  • 2018   Global Challenges Research Fund - Centre for Doctoral Training (GCRF-CDT) (Co-I) (£146,487)
  • 2018-2021 Spanish Government-funded ‘PaleoSub’ (Co-I) (£52,493)
  • 2018-2021 Spanish Government-funded ‘SimTIC’ (Co-I) (£192,667)
  • 2015-2018 Spanish Government-funded ‘Co-Change’ (Co-I) (£192,475) 
  • 2016 Durham University Grant Seedcorn Fund Award (PI) (£1,651)
  • 2009 NERC Isotope Geosciences Facilities (NIGFSC) Grant (PI) (£13,100)
  • 2008 Marie Curie Research Fellowship (PI) (£119,382)
  • 2005 University College Dublin (UCD, Ireland) Research Seed Funding Scheme (PI) (£9,624)
  • 1999-2006 Multiple Small (<£1000) Research & Travel Grants (PI) (£2,955) 
  • 1996 Oakridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Research Fellowship (Co-I) (£38,927)        

 

Learning and Teaching Interests and Activities

I lead and/or teach on several modules across the Geosciences (Geography BSc, Environmental Science BSc, and Environmental Management MSc) within the School of Health and Life Sciences at Teesside University. I have also designed several undergraduate and MSc modules (see below).

AY2022/23

  • Global Environmental Issues (Yr 1) (Designed)
  • Climate Change (MSc) (Designed) 
  • The Anthropocene (Yr 2) (Designed)
  • Environmental Management (MSc) (Designed)
  • Research Project (MSc)
  • Advanced Placement (MSc)
  • Science Research Project (Yr 3)

I have previously taught and, where indicated, designed/co-designed the following: 

  • Foundation Year - Chemical Science and the Environment
  • Yr 1
    • Rocks Minerals and Fossils
    • Interpreting Environments (Co-Designed)
    • Physical Geography and Geology Field Work (Co-Designed)
  • Yr 2 
    • Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks (Designed)
    • Earth Systems, Geotechnology and Earth Catastrophes
  • Yr 3
    • Green and Environmental Chemistry
  • MSc - Global Energy Policy  

As Assistant Professor in Palaeoclimate and Environmental Science at Durham University, I co-designed and taught on a range of Physical Geography modules at all levels including 'Understanding Earth's Principles', 'Geochemistry of the Environment', 'Geochemical Applications', 'Scientific Research in Physical Geography'. and 'Past Climates of the Low Latitudes'. 

PhD SUPERVISION

  • Mr Fatai Ilesanmi (SHLS)
  • Enejoh Timothy Omejeh (SCEDT)
  • Mr Ms Raquel Chun (Durham GCRF-CDT)
  • Ms Katy Ivison (Durham Arctic CDT)

PhD Completions

  • Dr Fan Xiangwen (Durham Geography)

 

Education/Academic qualification

Fellow of the HEA, Higher Education Academy

Award Date: 15 Apr 2018

PhD, Stable isotopes in rainfall, cave drip water, and speleothem carbonate, University College Dublin

… → Dec 2008

Award Date: 15 Dec 2008

Master, Stable isotopes in land snail (Cerion) shell carbonate as low-latitude palaeoenvironmental proxies, University of Georgia

… → May 2001

Award Date: 15 May 2001

Bachelor, Palaeomagnetic dating of 3-D Maze Cave sediments, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA, James Madison University

… → Dec 1995

Award Date: 15 Dec 1995

External positions

Guest Lecturer (Environmental Management Yr 3), Durham University

1 Sep 202230 May 2023

Yorkshire Geological Society Fearnsides Award Expert Evaluator

1 May 2020 → …

Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant Evaluator

1 Jan 2020 → …

Expert Guest Lecturer 4th Speleothem Science Summer School

11 Aug 201917 Aug 2019

International Journal of Speleology Editorial Board Member

1 Jan 2018 → …

Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Expert Evaluator

1 Jan 2017 → …

Geological Survey of Ireland Shortcall Expert Evaluator

1 Jan 201731 Dec 2017

Assistant Professor, Durham University

1 Aug 201628 Jan 2020

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Durham University

1 Feb 201031 Jul 2016

NERC Standard Grant Reviewer

1 Jan 201031 Dec 2010

Leverhulme Trust Grant Reviewer

1 Jan 201031 Dec 2010

Marie Curie Intra-European Research Fellow, Durham University

1 Feb 200831 Jan 2010

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