Dr Kirsty Edgar PhD

Dr Kirsty Edgar

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Lecturer in Micropalaeontology

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Kirsty is a micropalaeontologist and palaeoceanographer, specialising in planktic foraminifer and foraminifer-based geochemical records. She is interested in understanding the timing and nature of the interaction between global climate, geochemical cycling, and biota during the Cenozoic. A major research focus is elucidating the dynamics and consequences of transient climate events in the geological record.

ORCID: 0000-0001-7587-9951


  • 2009 – PhD University of Southampton
  • 2004 – MSci (First Class) Royal Holloway, University of London


  • 2017-  Lecturer in Micropalaeontology, University of Birmingham 
  • 2016– Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow and Proleptic Lecturer in Micropalaeontology, University of Birmingham 
  • 2014-2016 – Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, University of Bristol 
  • 2011-2014 – NERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cardiff University 
  • 2008-2011 – NERC Research Associate, University of Southampton (Advisor: Professor Heiko Pälike) 
  • 2009 – PhD, University of Southampton (Advisor: Professor Paul Wilson) 
  • 2008 (June – August), WUN International Research Fellow, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego (Advisors: Professor Dick Norris and Dr Philip Sexton)
  • 2004 – MSci (First Class Hons), Royal Holloway, University of London


Kirsty teaches on the following topics:

  • Applied and Industrial Micropalaeontology
  • Palaeoclimates
  • Research and field skills

Postgraduate supervision

If you are interested in exploring opportunities to join the Micropalaeontology group here in Birmingham as a graduate student, postdoc or if you looking for somewhere new for a research visit or sabbatical then please get in touch. Current Ph.D opportunities can be found at www.centa.org.uk and www.findaphd.com. 

Current PhD students 

  • Nicola Kirby (University of Birmingham; lead supervisor) – Climate or tectonics as the dominant driver of Eocene cooling

  • Michael McKnight (University of Birmingham; lead supervisor) – New Paleogene chemo- and bio-stratigraphies from key exploration areas in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean 
  • Lorna Kearns (University of Southampton; lead supervisor: Dr Tom Ezard) - Inferring early warning signals of ecosystem collapse at the end of the Eocene greenhouse 
  • Ulrike Baranowski (University of Birmingham; lead supervisor: Dr Tom Dunkley Jones) – Early Eocene Palaeoenvironmental and tectonic reconstructions from the Rockall Trough 
  • Kate Newton (University of Birmingham; lead supervisor: Dr James Bendle) – Cenozoic evolution of the Asian Monsoon: tectonic-climate interactions 
  • Dana Ridha (University of Birmingham; lead supervisor: Dr Ian Boomer) - The impact of global events on Miocene marine benthos in the Indian Ocean 

Previous students 

  • Completed 2016 - Wendy Kordesch (University of Southampton; lead supervisor: Prof. Paul Wilson) – Middle Eocene greenhouse climate instability 

MSc Micropalaeontology Projects (GEES, University of Birmingham) 

  • 2017 – Charlotte Fielder on “Is the extinction of Acarinina bullbrooki a reliable datum
  • 2017 – Wan ‘Topaz’ Liew on “Exceptionally preserved Miocene and Cretaceous foraminifera from the Rockall Trough” 
  • 2016 - Adam Woodhouse on “Unlocking the Paleogene tropics
  • 2016 - Andrew Mair on “An ocean of dwarves or giants during an ancient global warming event?
  • 2016 - Ruth Gultom on “Ecological and evolutionary responses of planktic foraminifer during the Miocene from ODP Site 752


Kirsty specialises in planktic foraminiferal micropalaeontology and geochemistry. The overall goal of her research is to unravel the complex interplay between life and climate ranging from the modern day back through millions of years. Much of her research to date has focused on constraining climatic and biotic (e.g., ecological and evolutionary) responses to short-lived environmental perturbations over the past 65 million years of Earth’s history. Focal events include the transient global warming event, the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO) ~40 million years ago and other ‘hyperthermals’. The geochemistry of foraminiferal tests is one of the main means used to reconstruct both fossil foraminifera ecology and past environments. As such she is actively involved in evaluating the fidelity of key geochemical proxies (e.g., d11B, d13C and d18O values) in fossil and modern foraminiferal carbonate with the view to improving confidence in our palaeoreconstructions.

Kirsty’s research interests at a glance are:

  • Biotic responses and sensitivity to environmental change in our past, present and future oceans
  • Cenozoic (particularly Eocene) environmental change
  • The fidelity of geochemical and biotic proxies for reconstructing past ecology and environments

Other activities

  • 2017 - Planktic foraminiferal biostratigrapher on Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 369: Australia Cretaceous climates and tectonics (26 Sep-26 Nov.).
  • 2017- Advisory board member of Mikrotax (http://mikrotax.org/)
  • 2017- International member of the Joides Resolution Science Operator Geology Laboratory Working Group
  • 2016 - Planktic Foraminiferal Editor for the Journal of Micropalaeontology
  • 2014-2016 - The Micropalaeontological Society (TMS) Events Secretary
  • 2012-2014 - TMS Foraminifera Group Secretary
  • 2009 - Planktic foraminiferal biostratigrapher on Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 320:Pacific Equatorial Age Transect (5 March-5 May)
  • Member of The Micropalaeontological Society (2004- ), Geologists Association (2017- ), The Paleontological Association (2014- ), The Cushman Foundation (2014- ), Geological Society of America (2015- ) and The American Geophysical Union (2006- )


Mikis, A., Hendry, K. R., Pike, J., Schmidt, D.N., Edgar, K.M., Peck, V., Peeters, F.J.C., Leng, M.J., Meredith, M., Todd, C.L., Stammerjohn, S. and Ducklow, H. Temporal variability in foraminiferal morphology and geochemistry at the West Antarctic Peninsula: a sediment trap study. Biogeosciences Discussions. https://www.biogeosciences-discuss.net/bg-2019-19/ (2019).

Hollis, C.J., Dunkley Jones, T., Anagnostou,E., Bijl,P.K., Cramwinckel,M.J., Cui, Y., Dickens, G.R., Edgar,K.M., Eley, Y., Evans, D., Foster,G.L., Frieling, J., Inglis, G.N., Kennedy, E.M.,Kozdon,R., Lauretano,V., Lear, C.H., Littler, K., Meckler, N., Naafs, B.D.A., Pälike, H., Pancost,R.D., Pearson, P., Royer, D.L., Salzmann, U., Schubert, B., Seebeck, H., Sluijs, A., Speijer, R., Stassen P., Tierney, J., Tripati, A., Wade B., Westerhold, T., Witkowski,C., Zachos, J.C., Zhang, Y.G., Huber,M., and Lunt, D.J. The DeepMIP contribution to PMIP4: methodologies for selection, compilation and analysis of latest Paleocene and early Eocene climate proxy data, incorporating version 0.1 of the DeepMIP database. Geoscientific Model Development Discussion. https://www.geosci-model-dev-discuss.net/gmd-2018-309/ (2019).

Wade, B.S., Olsson, R.K., Pearson P.N., Edgar, K.M. and Premoli-Silva, I. Taxonomy, biostratigraphy, and phylogeny of Oligocene Subbotina in Wade, B.S., Olsson, R.K., Pearson P.N., Huber, B.T. and Berggren, W.A. (eds), Atlas of Oligocene Planktonic Foraminifera, Cushman Foundation of Foraminiferal Research Special Publication, No. 46, p. 307-330 (2018). 

Huber, B.T., Hobbs, R.W., Bogus, K.A. and the Expedition 369 Scientists (incl. Edgar, K. M.). Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 369 Preliminary Report; Australia Cretaceous Climate and Tectonics. doi: 10.14379/iodp.pr.369.2018 (2018).

Edgar, K.M., Hull, P.M., and Ezard, T., Evolutionary history biases inferences of ecology and environment from ∂13C but not ∂18O values. Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/s41467-0117-01154-7 (2017).

Waterson, A., Edgar, K.M.,Schmidt, D.N. and Valdes, P.J. Quantifying the stability of planktic foraminiferal physical niches between the Holocene and Last Glacial Maximum. Paleoceanography. doi: 10.1002/2016PA002964 (2016).

Witkowski, J., Edgar, K.M., Harding, I.C., McCartney, K. and Bak, M.  Marine Microfossils in Encyclopedia of Marine Geosciences Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series, Springer Netherlands, 467-475, doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-6238-1-73 (2016). The Encyclopedia of Marine Geosciences was awarded the 2017 Mary B. Ansari Best Geoscience Research Resource Work Award of the Geoscience Information Society.

Anagnostou, E., John, E.H., Edgar, K.M., Foster, G.L., Ridgwell, A., Inglis, G.N., Pancost, R.D., Lunt, D.J., and Pearson, P.N. Changing atmospheric CO2 concentration was the primary driver of early Cenozoic climate. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature17423 (2016). 

Möbius, I., Friedrich, O., Edgar, K.M. and Sexton, P.F. Episodes of globally intensified biological productivity during the termination of the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO) in Paleoceanography, doi: 10.1002/2014PA002673 (2015).

Edgar, K.M., Anagnostou, E., Foster, G. and Pearson, P.N., Assessing the impact of diagenesis on the ∂ 11B, ∂ 13C, ∂18O, Sr/Ca and B/Ca in fossil planktic foraminiferal calcite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 166, 189-209, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2015.06.018 (2015).

Ezard, T., Edgar, K.M. and Hull, P.M., Environmental and biological controls on size-specific d 18O and d 13C in recent planktic foraminifera. Paleoceanography, doi: 10.1002/2014PA002735 (2015).

Witkowski, J., Bohaty, S.M., Edgar, K.M. and Harwood, D.M., Rapid fluctuations in mid-latitude siliceous plankton productivity during the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (ODP Site 1051, western North Atlantic). Marine Micropaleontology, doi: 10.1016/j.marmicro.2014.01.001 (2014).

Edgar, K.M., Pälike, H. and Wilson, P.A. Testing the impact of diagenesis on the d 18O and d13C benthic foraminiferal calcite from a sediment burial depth transect in the equatorial Pacific. Paleoceanography 28, 468-480, doi:10.1002/palo.20045 (2013). Featured in Research Spotlight in EOS, v. 94, p. 432 (2013).

Edgar, K.M., Bohaty, S.M., Gibbs, S.J., Sexton, P.F., Norris, R.D. and Wilson, P.A. Symbiont bleaching in planktic foraminifera during the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum. Geology, v. 41, 15-18, doi:10.1130/G33388.1 (2013).

Gibbs, S.J., Bown, P.R., Murphy, B.H., Sluijs, A., Edgar, K.M., Pälike, H., Bolton, C.T. and Zachos, J.C. Scaled marine plankton disruption through early Paleogene transient global warming events. Biogeosciences, v. 9, 4679-4688, doi:10.5194/bgd-9-1237-2012 (2012).

Pälike, H., et al., (incl. Edgar, K.M). A Cenozoic record of the equatorial Pacific carbonate compensation depth. Nature, v. 488, 609-614, doi:10.1038/nature11360 (2012).

Westerhold, T., Röhl, U., Wilkens, R., Pälike, H., Lyle, M., Dunkley Jones, T., Bown P., Moore, T., Kamikuri, S., Acton, G., Ohneiser, C., Yamamoto, Y., Richter, C., Fitch, P., Scher, H., Liebrand, D., and the Expedition 320/321 Scientists. Revised composite depth scales and the integration of IODP Sites U1331-U1334 and ODP Sites 1218-1220. In Pälike, H., Nishi, H., Lyle, M., Raffi, I., Klaus, A., Gamage, K. and the Expedition 320/321 Scientists. Proceedings of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, 320/321. doi:10.2204/iodp.proc.320321.201.2012, 2012.

Stewart, J., Wilson, P.A., Edgar, K.M., Anand, P. and James, R. Geochemical assessment of the paleoecology, ontogeny, morphotypic variability and palaeoceanographic utility of “Dentoglobigerina” venezuelana. Marine Micropaleontology, v. 84-85, 74-86, doi:10.1016/j.marmicro.2011.11.003 (2012).

Edgar, K.M., Wilson, P.A., Sexton, P.F. Gibbs, S.J. and Roberts, A.P. New biostratigraphic, magnetostratigraphic and isotopic insights into the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum in low latitudes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 297, 670-682, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.09.016 (2010).

Pälike, H., Nishi, H., Lyle, M., Raffi, I., Klaus, A., Gamage, K. and the Expedition 320/321 Scientists. Proceedings of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, Initial Reports 320/321. doi:10.2204/iodp.proc.320321.2010 (2010).

Pälike, H., Nishi, H., Lyle, M., Raffi, I., Klaus, A., Gamage, K. and the Expedition 320/321 Scientists. Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 321 Preliminary Report; Pacific Equatorial Age Transect, doi:10.2204/iodp.pr.320.2009 (2009).

Edgar, K.M., Wilson, P.A., Sexton, P.F. and Suganuma, Y.  No extreme bipolar glaciation during the main Eocene calcite compensation shift. Nature, v. 448, 908-911, doi:10.1038/nature06053 (2007). 

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