Dr Kelsie Long


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Kelsie is an archaeological scientist with a background in bioanthropology and a focus on sclerochronology (the study of physical and chemical variations in the accretionary hard tissues of organisms, and the temporal context in which they formed). Her current research is focused on using isotopes and elements in fish remains (otoliths, scales, vertebrae etc) and shells found in sedimentary lake cores to build up long term records of climate and lake level change. This will contribute to improving our understanding of past and modern environments in Australia and the world.

Kelsie is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the ANU Node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Biodiveristy and Heritage (CABAH). In this role Kelsie is contributing to CABAH's goal of investigating natural and cultural history of Australia, Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. Kelsie is working on modern and ancient fish and shell remains from lakes in Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste.

Prior to undertaking her postdoctoral fellowship Kelsie completed her PhD and undergraduate studies at the ANU. Her PhD project focused on the application of fish otolith (ear stone) microchemistry to understanding past environments and human occupation at Lake Mungo, south western NSW.

Professionally, Kelsie has worked as a Policy Officer with the Federal Government Department of Education and Training and has been a field assistant on archaeological survey work with the Mungo Archaeology Project.

Research interests

sclerochronology, isotope hydrology, archaeology, palaeoclimatology, oxygen isotopes, lake level reconstruction, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area 

Researcher's projects

Title: Using chemical archives in shells from existing sediment cores to understand patterns of rainfall and drought over the past 10,000 years in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Timor-Leste

Summary of Project: Changing patterns of drought and rainfall in PNG and Timor-Leste greatly affect: 1) the ability of communities to grow and maintain crops, 2) the occurrence and severity of fires and 3) prevalence, health and diversity of native wildlife. This project will support local communities to understand how the drought and rainfall regime has changed up to the present and how it will change in the future. In preliminary sediment analyses, we have identified periods when it appears these regions experienced extensive and intensive drought, lasting decades. This project aims to identify and clarify the nature and impact of these events.

Funding: College of Asia and the Pacific, Asia-Pacific Innovation Program (APIP) ECR Excellence Award and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage

Expertise Areas

  • Isotope Geochemistry
  • Quaternary Environments
  • Archaeological Science


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