I am currently Professor of Physical Geography with over thirty years of experience of using lake sediments and other historical records to reconstruct environmental change. Through my PhD and post-doc studies, I helped pioneer the use of magnetic analyses of sediments as a tool in erosion and pollution studies. My recent work has highlighted the role of multi-decadal timescales in addressing the complexity concepts that populate national and international research agendas, particularly with regards social-ecological systems and resilience theory (Dearing 2008, Dearing et al. 2010, Dearing et al. 2012a).
Recent publications (see here for full list) in PNAS and Nature have identified new approaches for studying ecosystem service dynamics, critical transitions and early warning signals (Dearing et al 2012b, Wang et al. 2012). Since 2000, I have been PI and co-I on grants worth >£5M from UK NERC, ESRC, Belmont Forum, Leverhulme Trust and Royal Society, with 9 postdoctoral researchers and 11 graduate (PhD) students, resulting in over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters. I have been involved as PI or co-I on four UK Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) Programme grants addressing: ecosystem service dynamics in China (PI ESPA Yangtze PFG 2011) and Bangladesh (co-I ESPA Deltas 2012); methods to assess Safe Operating Spaces for Human Activities at regional scales (PI ESPA EIRG 2012); and Communicating Complexity to stakeholders (PI ESPA RIU 2012) (see ). I have also played an active role in the activities of the International Geosphere-Biopshere Programme (IGBP). Notably, I led the international Past Global Changes (PAGES) programme Focus 4 for the six years up to the end of 2013 where we promoted the use of palaeorecords in the study of ecosystem services and complex systems analysis. I have also been involved with the IGBP-IHDP Integrated History and Future of Peoples on Earth (IHOPE) initiative.
At the University of Southampton I have been the main driver of the new cross-cutting and university-wide Sustainability Science at Southampton research group with over 100 affiliated researchers, successful promotion of interdisciplinary research initiatives and bids (over £7M awarded to ESPA funded projects since 2011), new teaching modules, and outreach activities (e.g. TEDx lecture and public event celebrating UN World Development and Information Day).