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Nicky completed a BA in Archaeology in Nottingham in 1995 and a NERC funded PhD in Cambridge in 1998, which developed a method to analyse seasonality information from the European oyster, which was then applied to Danish shell midden sites. This was followed by a Sir James Knott fellowship at the University of Newcastle in 1999 and then a Lectureship in 2001, before moving to the University of York in 2004. She became a Senior Lecturer in 2009, Professor in 2012 and has been Head of Department since 2019. Nicky was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA) in 2009 and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2019.
Her research focuses on the Final Palaeolithic, the Mesolithic and the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition. She went on her first excavation whilst still at school and since then has excavated whenever she could. She has co-directed a number of projects: the Mesolithic hut at Howick, shell middens at Baylet, a Long blade site at Flixton Island and a 15 year project at the famous Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr.
She also worked on shell midden sites in Denmark, Ireland, Scotland, Spain and Portugal and currently works on two major biodiversity projects: The Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity and the EU SYNERGY SEACHANGE project.
Nicky's excavations and research have been featured on a number of TV and radio programmes including Meet the Ancestors, two special episodes of Time Team, three episodes of Digging for Britain, Ray Mear's Wild Food and Mystic Britain. She has given over 40 public talks on Star Carr and collaborated on a number of museum exhibitions including Star Carr at the Yorkshire Museum, The Rotunda and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Cambridge.
Her work at Star Carr has won many prizes including Research Project of the year in the Current Archaeology Awards (2014 and 2020), the Richardson Award for best paper in the Proceedings of the Geologist's Association, the best Innovation prize in the British Archaeological awards and highly commended as Best Archaeological Book in the British Archaeological Awards for Star Carr: Life in Britain after the Ice Age.
She has supervised over 25 PhD students and in 2019 was highly commended in the Times Higher Education awards as Research Supervisor of the Year. She has also won two Vice Chancellor's Awards for teaching.
Nicky currently sites on a number of boards, trusts and societies including REF subpanel member, Director and Trustee of Antiquity, Heritage Monitoring and Advisory Scientific Committee for A303 Stonehenge project, Scientific Advisory Board Kiel, Jersey Heritage Framework Advisory Board and British Academy H7 steering committee.
Nicky's research mainly focuses on the Mesolithic period and at the moment is working on the Preboreal, Early Mesolithic (through Star Carr), as well as having a focus on the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition. Her research tends to divide across three key themes: palaeodiet and consumption practices; settlement and mobility; death and burial.
Nicky has projects which are based both in the lab and in the field and she aims to bring innovative approaches through the development of new themes. Her fieldwork is interdisciplinary in approach and her work at Star Carr involves working with over 20 specialists. She has also co-directed excavations on shell middens in Ireland with Peter Woodman, and excavations at Howick with Clive Waddington and Geoff Bailey.
Nicky completed a major AHRB project with Geoff Bailey on Coastal shell middens and agricultural origins in Europe. As part of this, she developed a critical examination of stable isotope analysis in identifying the role of marine resources across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Europe. She has also made important new advances in seasonality studies, using marine molluscs and new biomolecular methods of palaeodietary analysis, coordinating her research with colleagues in five different countries.
Current PhD students:
Exhibition on Star Carr and the Mesolithic in York City Art Gallery, April 2010