Post-doc Researcher in Focus

Dr Suzi Richer tells us about her research


View of a traditional ‘boma’ (enclosure) on the plain near Engaruka in Tanzania.

As an environmental archaeologist, Suzi’s research covers a broad spectrum of past environmental change, how people used and made sense of the natural world in the past, and how these insights and interpretations are relevant in today’s world. In particular, she specialises in pollen analysis and transdisciplinary interpretations of past environment types, particularly woodlands (see Richer and Gearey, in press) and peatlands.



Suzi opening a core taken for pollen analysis at Shrawley Wood, Worcestershire.

Suzi is an alumnus of the Department of Archaeology, having completed both her undergraduate degree here in Archaeology and her PhD. Her thesis, ‘From pollen to people: The interaction between people and their environment in the mid-to-high altitudes of the Southern French Alps’, supervised by Dr Kevin Walsh, combined palaeoecological (primarily pollen analysis) and archaeological techniques to look at how people used alpine valleys and high-altitude pastures in the past. She has also worked at Worcestershire Archaeology as a Senior Environmental Archaeologist (pollen) and is currently the Publicity Officer for the Association for Environmental Archaeology.

In her current role, Suzi has been working on the Archaeology of Agricultural Resilience in Eastern Africa (PI Daryl Stump) project, at the sites of Engaruka, Tanzania and Konso, Ethiopia. Working with Director Paul Richardson, Suzi and others on the AAREA project, produced the film ‘Grains of Truth’, which highlights the team’s research at Engaruka. 

Suzi has been engaging with other sectors to evaluate and establish the role that archaeological data can play in sustainability debates and its relevance to sectors and organisations beyond academia, particularly with NGOs and policy makers. This has included writing articles for other audiences - including policy briefs - and organising policy brief launches in Westminster and Brussels. The theme of relevance also figures strongly in Suzi’s other research interests, where she is currently exploring a multivocal approach to palaeoecology and the subsequent effects of this on interpretations (see Richer and Gearey, 2017).


Policy brief launch at the White Rose Brussels offices, left–right: Prof. Rob Marchant, University of York; Dr Suzi Richer, University of York; Bernard Rey, Deputy Head of Sector for Sustainable Agriculture at DG DEVCOHanna Saarinen, Investment in Agriculture Policy Advisor at Oxfam; and Dr Daryl Stump, University of York. (Photo: Dr Sarah Walshaw).

Dr Suzi Richer is Research Associate on the AAREA project in the Department of Archaeology and the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York. Her time on the project is finishing in February 2018, but she will continue to be an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology and will be focussing on her consultancy work.