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Kweku Afrifa
Postdoctoral Research Associate



I am an organic geochemist interested in applying multi-proxy approach - conventional geochemistry, compound-specific isotopes analyses (CSIA) and genomic analysis - to sedimentary records, soils, stalagmites and sedimentary rocks to (1) elucidate paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental conditions during the Quaternary Period, (2) decipher the link between climate variability and ecosystem dynamics, and (3) explore the impacts of climate fluctuations on societies and ancient civilizations.

I obtained my Ph.D. degree in Geochemistry from Stockholm University, Sweden in May 2016. My PhD was focused on reconstructing Southeast Asian summer monsoon variability and elucidating the underlying mechanisms that influenced the monsoonal dynamics over multiple timescales. I also investigated the monsoon dynamics on the rise and fall of Angkor Civilisation, a hydrologically advanced civilization in SE Asia that peaked ca. 1000 AD. Subsequent to my PhD, I undertook series of post-doctoral positions in Sweden (Stockholm University), Taiwan (National Taiwan University) and United Kingdom (University of Birmingham). I joined BioArCh in January, 2022 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, working on SEACHANGE project -an ERC funded project- seeking to quantify the effect of cultural transitions on marine biodiversity.



My research cut across different disciplines and have also worked (or is working) across different time-scales (e.g., from human/archaeological time-scales to Cenozoic), systems (e.g., from the sub-Arctic to the SE Asian monsoon), and archives (e.g., sediments, lignites, stalagmites) employing a multidisciplinary approach -conventional geochemistry, lipid biomarkers, genomics and modelling- to answer questions emerging from the broad research themes.

I am currently involved in the pioneering development of a new palaeothermometry proxy, based on the chain distribution of bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids (3-OH-FAs) membrane lipids. Although the applications of this novel biomarker proxy, still under development, remain unexplored to a large extent, preliminary studies have shown considerable promise to reconstruct temperature and pH independently.

At the University of York, I am working on an ERC funded project, “SEACHANGE”, at the Department of Archaeology, using compound specific isotope analyses of amino acids to quantify the impact of major cultural transitions on marine ecosystem functioning and biodiversity and setting new baselines for understanding ocean environmental changes during the Neolithic.

A link to my research articles:

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Contact details

Dr Kweku Afrifa
University of York
BioArCh, Environment Building
Wentworth Way, Heslington
YO10 5DD