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Dr Pallavi Anand

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Environment, Earth & Ecosystem Sciences
  • pallavi.anand

Professional biography

My research involves developing biogeochemical tracers in the modern oceanic environment and their application in the past to understand changes in ocean chemistry and climate on a variety of timescales. In order to understand the past through these tracers, they need to be developed, calibrated and validated against physical, chemical and ecological variables in the modern environment. I am interested in developing morphometric tools (shell morphological parameters) and geochemical tracers (trace elements and isotopes) using microfossils, fish-teeth and bulk sediments and apply them to reconstruct past changes in seawater biogeochemical properties, thereby past ocean-continent-atmosphere interactions, environment and ocean circulation.  

I am always interested in hearing from motivated students and postdocs willing to come and work on foraminifera, geochemical tracers and palaeoceanographic research at the Open University. Please send me an email to explore possibilities. 

Research interests

My broad research interest is in the field of biogeochemical tracers to understand the past changes in ocean chemistry and climate. I focus on developing and applying trace elements and isotopic compositions of foraminiferal shells from world oceans and reconstruct past changes in ocean chemistry to understand oceanic processes and climate variations on a shorter (decadal, glacial-interglacial) and longer (Cenozoic) geological time-scales. Another research area is in understanding foraminiferal ecology and bio-calcification processes and how anthropogenic ocean acidification has affected calcification in planktonic foraminifera.

  • Quantification and refinement of the biological and environmental controls on trace element/Ca (e.g., Mg/Ca, Li/Ca, B/Ca) and stable isotopes (e.g., oxygen and carbon) during bio-mineralization.
  • Application of coupled trace the element/Ca ratios and oxygen isotope in foraminifera to reconstruct past changes in sea surface and bottom water temperatures and salinities.
  • Study of microfossils species composition and foraminiferal shell parameters (length, size, density and weight) to understand ecology and controls on shell calcification process in the modern environment.
  • Validation and application of isotopic tracers (e.g., Sr, Nd and Li) in microfossils and sediments to understand changes in continental weathering, ocean circulation and provenance during the Cenozoic.

PhD project 2020 

(Please contact pallavidotanand at opendotacdotuk to develop projects)

If you are visiting us on campus then please find this 3D OU map !

Current projects

OU PhD projects

  • Plio-Pleistocene monsoon-driven coccolithophore productivity and stratification reconstructions (Ms Emmeline Gray, OU/CEREG) – 2018 (project info)
  • Onset of the Antarctic circumpolar current and the oceanographic isolation of Antarctica (Ms Sophie Alexander, OU/CENTA)  – 2018 (project info)
  • Climate and carbon cycle instability during extreme ‘greenhouse’ warmth (Mr Andrew McIntyre, OU/CENTA) – 2017 (project info)
  • Late Pliocene stratification and productivity reconstructions: linking monsoon evolution and climate (Ms Yasmin B. Friberg, OU) – 2016 (project info)


New: Follow our Indian Monsoon research progress


New (Dr) Doctors!

Congratulations Dr Katrina Nilsson-Kerr (Indian Summer Monsoon reconstructions) - project info

Congratulations Dr Max Bodmer (Caribbean coral reef habitat) Max's research highlight)


EU project

Led by Marie Curie Fellow Dr Charuta Kulkarni on project EARNEST (Examining the Agroforestry Landscape Resilience in India to inform Social-Ecological Sustainability in the Tropics)


I have had the privilege of working with the following researchers

Dr Katrina Nilsson-Kerr (Reconstructing the Indian monsoon response to global climate change)- PhD

Dr Max Bodmer (Restoration of the long-spined sea urchin, Diadema antillarum) - PhD 

Dr Adele Cameron (Ocean Circulation during Eocene extreme ‘greenhouse') - PhD

Dr Kate H. Salmon (Impact of ocean acidification on biocalcification) - PhD

Dr Joe Stewart (Silicate weathering across the Oligocene-Miocene boundary: evidence from lithium and neodymium isotopes) - PhD

Dr Emily Stevenson (Stable strontium isotope fractionation in marine and terrestrial environments) - PhD   

Dr Eleanor H. John  (Weathering and Climate: new insights from the marine records of Li and Nd ) - Postdoc

Teaching interests

Current modules

  • Environment: responding to change (SDT306)
  • Environmental Science (S(FX)206)

Previous modules

  • Earth processes (Oceans) (S309)
  • Environment: sharing a dynamic planet (DST206)
  • Science and society (S201)
  • An introduction to the Earth - Life System (S279)
  • Practical Sciences (S288)
  • Oceanography (S330)​

Impact and engagement

I was one of the academic advisers on the production of Blue Planet II, the landmark BBC one natural history series (2014 to 2017). I co-authored a poster to communicate about our Blue Planet in 'Oceans' poster: order your free poster here and communicated our research impact of BPII in a workshop organised by BAS (Cambridge) to bring different stakeholders in communicating plastic pollution challenges and solutions.

I have also been invited to talk and contribute to the following public outreach events:

  • invited talk on "Climate change and the Marine World: engaging with the public" for the World Oceans Day organised by Cambridge University Marine Conservation Society and Cambridge Conservation Forum (2019)  
  • invited panel member to share oceanographic field experience at Female in the Field: Challenges and Opportunities event organised by the Geological Society London (20th May 2019) 
  • invited to speak at a STEM outreach event “Grow from your STEM”, part of the Inspiring Women Campaign, organised by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, UK. I also contributed to the workshop delivery on UN Climate Change country negotiations with colleagues at BEIS (2018) 
  • New Scientist Live (2018)
  • share academic experiences at 500 Woman in Science, London pod (2017),
  • invited at  Milton Keynes Soapbox Science to talk about plankton and climate research (2017) 

I am passionate about inspiring and giving opportunities for research placements to young people in our local area (yr 10 and A level)  working in partnership with the Nuffield Foundation. I have supported 27 students through the partnership over the decade (NRP endorsement). These placements will allow working on cutting-edge science in our laboratory during the summer break (~5 weeks). Also, I invite undergraduate placement research experience students between June-September.

External collaborations

External collaborators on current projects are:

Clara Bolton (CEREG, France), Kate Litter (Exeter University), Melanie Leng (BGS, UK), Ed Hathorne (GEOMAR, Germany), Steve Clemens (Brown University), Marci Robinson (USGS), Oscar E. Romero (University of Bremen), Priyank Jaiswal (USA), Sambuddha Mishra (IISc, Bangalore, India), P D Naidu (NIO, India),  Dick Kroon (Edinburgh, UK) and Maureen Conte (BIOS, Bermuda)

Member of the Science committee for upcoming Chapman conference (AGU) - 5th to 9th January 2020 (Washington DC, USA)

International co-ordinator of Monsoon theme at 36th International Geological Congress - 2nd to 8th March 2020 (New Delhi, India)

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)CentreFaculty of Science


Externally funded projects

CENTA 2017 intake

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01/Oct/201730/Sep/2021NERC NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
CENTA is a geographically and scientifically coherent consortium offering a wide range of excellent NERC science embedded in a vibrant multidisciplinary environment. The Universities (Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Open and Warwick) and Institutes (British Geological Survey and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) have a strong track record of producing PhD graduates fit for further research or other relevant employment. The Open University STEM Faculty has match-funded 3 studentships in the 2017 intake.

Reconstruction of changes in Indian Summer Monsoon precipitation

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Jul/201630/Sep/2016NERC NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
The Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM, a subsystem of Asian Monsoon) is a classic example of coupling between the solid Earth, ocean and atmospheric processes. The intensity of the ISM is due to anomalous heating of the troposphere over central Asia. This results in the formation of a low-pressure system that draws moist air from the surrounding oceans, and in turn results in intense precipitation across Indochina and south Asia, impacting billions of people. The intensity of this low-pressure system over the Asian continent and in turn, the summer monsoon precipitation intensity, is directly linked to the regional tectonic evolution of present day Asia [1]. This has been the case since the initial collision of India and Asia during the Cenozoic, around 50 Ma [2]. An interesting question on tectonic time-scales (i.e., >1 million years) therefore, is how summer monsoon precipitation varied over past climate extremes (e.g., glacial-interglacial during the Pliocene) and how this in turn affected continental erosion and consequently altered tectonic activity rates (i.e. exhumation and uplift) in the Himalaya and Tibet. The understanding of the variability of ISM precipitation due to climate-modulated processes in controlling tectonic evolution will be a step forward in understanding future changes in ISM precipitation. This study will therefore focus on investigating ISM precipitation variability since the Pliocene, providing a formidable analogue for future climate predictions [3]. This project aims to quantify change in terrestrial input due to the summer monsoon runoff strength. It will utilise newly drilled (International Ocean Discovery Programme Expedition 353) sedimentary sequences from the Andaman Sea (site U1448), one of the core regions of ISM precipitation and runoff, and site receives continental runoff during the ISM from the Irrawaddy and Salween rivers. The project involves: 1) Determination of elemental composition of bulk sediment from IODP site U1448 using portable X-Ray Fluorescence technique. New records of elemental concentration and ratios will be generated to understand changes in terrestrial input derived from monsoon runoff. 2) Reconstruction of total organic carbon and carbon isotopic composition of organic carbon variability to assess changes in organic carbon input from C3 versus C4 plants due to change in continental vegetation. 3) Quantification of variability of terrigenous input and total carbonate fraction during glacial-interglacial and the Pliocene.

How has recent ocean acidification affected the biocalcification and ecology of planktonic foraminifera?

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Apr/201531/Mar/2016Cushman Foundation
This project aims to monitor the biological impact of recent Ocean Acidification (OA) by assessing changes in modern planktonic foraminifera (PF) flux and shell calcification. This project utilises a bi-weekly sediment trap time series (Ocean Flux Program) to quantify seasonal and interannual changes in PF flux, calcification and trace element incorporation in relation to physical and chemical oceanographic changes. These developed proxies will be utilised to constrain the changes in shell calcification and seawater chemistry in the past century (due to anthropogenic OA) and over glacial-interglacial timescales.

Indian Summer Monsoon: initiation and evolution to current strength

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead29/Nov/201431/Mar/2016NERC NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
The Asian Monsoon is one of the best examples of coupling between solid Earth and atmospheric processes but its initiation and evolution over tectonic (million years) time scales are poorly understood. The key question that this project will address is when did the present strength of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) (a subsystem of the Asian Summer Monsoon) occur? This project will primarily utilise newly drilled continuous sedimentary successions from the Bay of Bengal (IODP Expedition 353) to reconstruct tectonic scale changes in (a) sea surface temperature (Mg/Ca in planktonic foraminifera) and sea surface salinity (d18O seawater from coupled d18O and Mg/Ca of planktonic foraminifera) (b) erosional strength (Al/Si) and continental flux variation as a result of monsoon runoff. The obtained multi-proxy data will provide insights into the initiation and evolution of ISM precipitation/runoff in the past and to its current strength.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01/Oct/201430/Sep/2018NERC NERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
CENTA is a geographically and scientifically coherent consortium offering a wide range of excellent NERC science embedded in a vibrant multidisciplinary environment. The Universities (Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Open and Warwick) and Institutes (British Geological Survey and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) have a strong track record of producing PhD graduates fit for further research or other relevant employment. We will advance PhD training significantly by offering broad and holistic educational opportunities in the environmental sciences, including innovative approaches to cohort training, supported by the Open University’s Virtual Research Environment learning platform. Where we offer leading national capability, we will offer training to other NERC consortia in addition to CENTA students. We are match-funding this bid for 20 studentships annually.CENTA defines its four areas of science excellence as follows: 1) Anthropogenic impacts and environmental sustainability. 2) Evolution of organisms and ecosystems. 3) Dynamic Earth. 4) Organisms.


Role of Asian summer monsoon subsystems in the inter-hemispheric progression of deglaciation (2019-03-18)
Nilsson-Kerr, K.; Anand, P.; Sexton, P. F.; Leng, M. J.; Misra, S.; Clemens, S. C. and Hammond, S. J.
Nature Geoscience, 12 (pp. 290-295)
Indian summer monsoon amplified global warming 130,000 years ago, helping end ice age (2019-03-18)
Nilsson-Kerr, Katrina and Anand, Pallavi
The Conversation
Silicate weathering and carbon cycle controls on the Oligocene-Miocene transition glaciation (2017)
Stewart, Joseph A.; James, Rachael H.; Anand, Pallavi and Wilson, Paul A.
Paleoceanography, Article PA003115 ((Early view))
Influence of the Amazon River on the Nd isotope composition of deep water in the western equatorial Atlantic during the Oligocene–Miocene transition (2016-11-15)
Stewart, Joseph; Gutjahr, Marcus; James, Rachael; Anand, Pallavi and Wilson, Paul
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 454 (pp. 132-141)
Geochemical imprints of genotypic variants of Globigerina bulloides in the Arabian Sea (2016-10)
Sadekov, Aleksey Yu.; Darling, Kate F.; Ishimura, Toyoho; Wade, Christopher M.; Kimoto, Katsunori; Singh, Arun Deo; Anand, Pallavi; Kroon, Dick; Jung, Simon; Ganssen, Gerald; Ganeshram, Raja; Tsunogai, Urumu and Elderfield, Henry
Paleoceanography, 31(10) (pp. 1440-1452)
Calcification and growth processes in planktonic foraminifera complicate the use of B/Ca and U/Ca as carbonate chemistry proxies (2016-09-01)
Salmon, Kate H.; Anand, Pallavi; Sexton, Philip F. and Conte, Maureen
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 449 (pp. 372-381)
High precision radiogenic strontium isotope measurements of the modern and glacial ocean : limits on glacial-interglacial variations in continental weathering (2015-04-01)
Mokadem, Fatima; Parkinson, Ian J.; Hathorne, Ed C.; Anand, Pallavi; Allen, John T. and Burton, Kevin W.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 415 (pp. 111-120)
Upper ocean mixing controls the seasonality of planktonic foraminifer fluxes and associated strength of the carbonate pump in the oligotrophic North Atlantic (2015-01-13)
Salmon, K. H.; Anand, P.; Sexton, P. F. and Conte, M.
Biogeosciences, 12(1) (pp. 223-235)
Geochemical assessment of the palaeoecology, ontogeny, morphotypic variability and palaeoceanographic utility of “Dentoglobigerina” venezuelana (2012-03)
Stewart, Joseph A.; Wilson, Paul A.; Edgar, Kirsty M.; Anand, Pallavi and James, Rachael H.
Marine Micropaleontology, 84-85 (pp. 74-86)
Quantifying sea surface temperature ranges of the Arabian Sea for the past 20 000 years (2011-12)
Ganssen, G .; Peeters, F.; Metcalfe, B.; Anand, P.; Jung, S.; Kroon, D. and Brummer, G.-J.
Climate of the Past, 7(4) (pp. 1337-1349)
Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca ratios in planktonic foraminifera: Proxies for upper water column temperature reconstruction (2008)
Cleroux, Caroline; Cortjo, Elsa; Anand, Pallavi; Labeyrie, Laurent; Bassinot, Franck; Caillon, Nicolas and Duplessy, Jean-Claude
Paleoceanography, 23, Article PA3214(3)
Coupled sea surface temperature–seawater δ18O reconstructions in the Arabian Sea at the millennial scale for the last 35 ka (2008)
Anand, Pallavi; Kroon, Dick; Singh, Arun Deo; Ganeshram, Raja S.; Ganssen, Gerald and Elderfield, Henry
Paleoceanography, 23(4) (PA4207)
Calibrations for benthic foraminiferal Mg/Ca paleothermometry and the carbonate ion hypothesis (2006-10)
Elderfield, H.; Yu, J.; Anand, P. and Nyland, B.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 250(3-4) (pp. 633-649)
An evaluation of controls on planktonic foraminiferal Sr/Ca: Comparison of water column and core-top data from a North Atlantic transect (2005-12)
Mortyn, P. G.; Elderfield, H.; Anand, P. and Greaves, M.
Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 6(12)
Variability of Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca between and within the planktonic foraminifers Globigerina bulloides and Globorotalia truncatulinoides (2005-11)
Anand, Pallavi and Elderfield, Henry
Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 6(11)
Calibration of Mg/Ca thermometry in planktonic foraminifera from a sediment trap time series (2003-06)
Anand, Pallavi; Elderfield, Henry and Conte, Maureen H
Paleoceanography, 18(2) (pp. 28-31)
The retrieval of marine weathering records preserved by strontium stable isotopes in foraminifera (2010-12)
Stevenson, E. I.; Burton, K.; Mokadem, F.; Parkinson, I. J.; Anand, P. and Hathorne, E. C.
In : American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2010. (13-17 Dec 2010, San Francisco)
Records of continental weathering for the past 15 Ma from paired analysis of lithium and neodymium isotopes in planktonic foraminifera (2010-08)
Anand, Pallavi; James, Rachael and Mokadem, Fatima
In : 10th International Conference on Paleoceanography (29 Aug - 3 Sep 2010, San Diego, USA)
Changes in weathering processes in the Oligocene – Miocene: interpretations of Li/Ca, d7Li and eNd data from the Ceara Rise, western equatorial Atlantic (2010-08)
John, Eleanor; Anand, Pallavi and James, Rachael
In : 10th International Conference on Paleoceanography (29 Aug - 3 Sep 2010, San Diego, USA)
Strontium stable isotope behaviour in foraminiferal calcite and the retrieval of marine records (2009)
Stevenson, E.; Burton, K. W.; Rickaby, R. E. M.; Parkinson, I. J.; Anand, P. and Hathorne, E. C.
In : American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2009 (Dec 2009)
Utility of Li and Li isotopes as tracers of continental weathering (2008)
James, R. H.; Wimpenny, J. B.; Pogge von Strandmann, P. A. E.; Kisakurek, B.; Hathorne, E. C.; Anand, P. and Burton, K. W.
In : American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2008 (15-18 Dec 2008)
d18O and trace element calibrations for 3 deep-dwelling planktonic foraminifera species : potential recorders of past thermocline temperature (2007-01)
Cléroux, C.; Cortijo, E.; Caillon, N.; Anand, P.; Bassinot, F.; Duplessy, J.-C. and Labeyrie, L.
In : European Geosciences Union General Assembly (15-20 Apr 2007)
Water mass evolution at intermediate depths off somalia for the past 31 kyr based on the benthic foraminiferal chemistry (2004)
Anand, Pallavi; Kroon, D.; Elderfield, H.; Ganssen, G. and Brise, S. E. A.
In : 8th International conference on Paleoceanography (Sep 2004, Biarritz)
Effect of supra-lysoclinal dissolution on oxygen isotopes and Mg/Ca in planktonic foraminifera (2004)
kroon, D.; Anand, Pallavi; Elderfield, H.; Birse, S. E. A. and Ganssen, G.
In : 8th International Conference on Paleoceanography (5-10 Sep 2004, Biarritz)
Temperature sensitivity of Planktonic foraminiferal Sr/Ca: discriminating against dissolution influence via water column versus core-top comparison (2004)
Mortyn, G. P.; Elderfield, H.; Greaves, M. and Anand, Pallavi
In : VIII International Conference on Paleoceanography (Apr 2004, Biarritz)
Variability of shell mass, d18O and Mg/Ca in planktonic foraminifera: from production to preservation (2003)
Anand, P.; Ganssen, G.; Elderfield, H.; Peeters, F.; Kroon, D. and Jung, S.
In : American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2003 (Dec 2003, San Francisco)
Plastics in the ocean ()
Anand, Pallavi
In : Plastics in the Ocean (7 Mar 2018, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge)
How putting algae and seaweed on menues could help save our seafood (2018-01-03)
Anand, Pallavi and Schmidt, Daniela
Putting algae and seaweed on the menu could help save our seafood (2018-01-03)
Anand, Pallavi and Schmidt, Daniela
Open Learn
One solution to global hunger could be at the bottom of the ocean (2017-12-15)
Anand, Pallavi and Schmidt, Daniela
World Economic Forum
Putting algae and seaweed on the menu could help save our seafood (2017-12-14)
Anand, Pallavi and Schmidt, Daniela
The Conversation
Sunlight powered food: key for life on Earth (2017-11-24)
Anand, Pallavi
Open Learn
Indian monsoon rainfall. International Ocean Discovery Program Preliminary Report, 353 (2015-04)
Clemens, S. C.; Kuhnt, W.; LeVay, L. J.; the Expedition 353 Scientists, and Anand, Pallavi