Dr Alice Milner

Research interests


Key Interests

Environmental change; policy; science-policy; peatlands; climate change


Environmental Change

I’m a physical geographer interested in environmental change on a variety of timescales: from recent (Anthropocene) to glacial-interglacial cycles of the Quaternary. I’m particularly interested in:

  • Understanding the response of ecosystems to abrupt climate changes
  • Characterising past ‘natural’ climate variability using high-resolution pollen records from long sediment sequences
  • Ecosystem dynamics in peatlands, including understanding the controls on peatland carbon accumulation and erosion 


Science Policy

Most environmental science is relevant to policy but too often there are barriers between scientists and policy-makers, meaning relevant scientific research does not always reach the relevant policy area. My research is focussed on understanding these barriers and developing mechanisms to improve the flow of evidence from science to policy.

For two days a week, I work with the Chief Scientific Adviser of the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to:

  • Develop recommendations on how evidence is reviewed for use in Government decision making
  • Establish innovative mechanisms for the management and use of evidence in Defra
  • Act as a conduit between Defra evidence teams and the wider academic community
  • Challenge Defra on major evidence needs that could impact policy

The impact of my work is improved quality and transparency of the evidence underpinning policy decisions. 



Personal profile

  • 2018 - present: Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Royal Holloway University of London.
  • 2014 - 2017: Lecturer in Physical Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • 2013 – present: Research Fellow, UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). NERC Knowledge Exchange Policy Secondment with Defra's Chief Scientific Adviser.
  • 2010 – 2013: Research Associate, University College London, Department of Geography. Past4Future (FP7)"Climate Dynamics Over Interglacial periods  the baseline" (WP1).
  • 2010: Ph.D. in Geography / Quaternary Science. University of Leeds.





Undergraduate and Postgraduate Teaching

  • GG5203: MSc Quaternary Science: Palynology
  • GG3019: Wetland Environments: Process and Policy (3rd year course)
  • GG1002: Environmental Change (1st year course)
  • GG1032: Geographical Research and Field Training (1st year overseas field course to Spain)

I am the Chair of the Undergraduate Staff-Student Committee



PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD applications in the following areas:

  • Peatland ecosystem dynamics
  • Reconstructing past environmental change and palynology  
  • Science-policy

Available PhD project: A delicate balance? Understanding spontaneous switches from erosion to carbon accumulation in northern peatlands. 

Application details can be found through the London NERC DTP, or contact me to discuss other opportunities and project ideas.



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