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Dr Pallavi Anand

Profile summary

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Professional biography

Pallavi is an ocean biogeochemist in the School of Environment Earth and Ecosystem Sciences in the STEM faculty at the Open University. She also has a role of postgraduate research administration in the STEM faculty as a Deputy Associate Dean of postgraduate research (DAD-PGR). Recently, she is serving on external committees: Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) working group of the European Association of Geochemistry and Geochemical Society (2020), the editorial board of Paleocenography and Paleoclimatology (2021) and Peer review member of UK's National Environmental Isotope Facilities (2021).  

Her main research interest is in developing biogeochemical tracers in the modern environment and using them for reconstructing past ocean and climate to infer past Earth processes. Some of her current research involvements include: sensitivity of Indian summer monsoon precipitation during past warm and abrupt climate intervals; climate influences on vegetation and phytoplankton evolution; development of new biogeochemical tracers for reconstructing past oceanic environments; Ocean circulation patterns in the warm climate; Caribbean coral reef ecosystems; the impact of microplastic pollution. She was one of the four academic advisors on Blue Planet II, broadcasted on BBC one in 2017, responsible for shaping the scientific content of the programme in association with the BBC production team.

She is always interested in hearing from motivated students and postdocs willing to come and work on geochemical tracers, ocean and climate research at the Open University. Please send me an email to explore possibilities. 

Research interests

My broad research interest is in the field of development and application of biogeochemical tracers to infer past changes in ocean chemistry and climate. The main focus is to use trace elements and isotopic compositions of foraminiferal shells and bulk sediment geochemical composition to reconstruct past changes in ocean chemistry, oceanic processes and climate variations on a variety of geological time-scales (centennial to millennial to orbital to tectonic). Another research area of interest is in understanding ecology, calcification, and evolutionary processes in response to climatic changes in marine calcifiers. Some areas of current research include:

  • Drivers of Indian Summer Monsoon rainfall during past warm climate (data-model integrated approach)
  • Controls on trace elements (e.g., Mg, Li, Ba, Nd, Mn, U) and stable isotopes (e.g., oxygen and carbon) incorporation during bio-mineralization
  • Application of coupled trace elements/Ca ratios and oxygen isotope in foraminifera to reconstruct past changes in sea surface and bottom water properties
  • Study of microfossils species composition and shell parameters (length, size, density and weight) to understand ecology and controls on the calcification process
  • 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
  • Modern Coral reef habitat health and conservation 
  • Impact of microplastic pollution  

Research news


A million years of past South Asian monsoons suggests stronger rainfall in the future 

Research shows how rainfall responded to past climate change

Research reveals role of Indian Summer Monsoon on global climate stage

Coral Reef

Artificial reed could restore sea urchin populations and coral reefs

PhD projects 2022 

(Please contact pallavidotanand at opendotacdotuk to develop project ideas on Ocean biogeochemistry, Monsoon climate, Coral reef and microplastic pollution

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

Current research projects

OU projects

  • The evolution of the climate-carbon cycle through the last interglacial (2021)
  • Impact of microplastic pollution on soil nutrient and vegetation (2021)
  • Integrating technological solutions to modernise the study and assessment of coral reefs (Shannon Cameron, Opwall and OU, Part-time) - 2020 (project info)
  • Plio-Pleistocene monsoon-driven coccolithophore productivity and stratification reconstructions (Emmeline Gray, OU/CEREG) – 2018 (project info)
  • Onset of the Antarctic circumpolar current and the oceanographic isolation of Antarctica (Sophie Alexander, OU/CENTA)  – 2018 (project info)
  • Climate and carbon cycle instability during extreme ‘greenhouse’ warmth (Andrew McIntyre, OU/CENTA) – 2017 (project info)
  • Late Pliocene stratification and productivity reconstructions: linking monsoon evolution and climate (Yasmin B. Friberg, OU) – (thesis submitted!)

External projects

  • Evolution of the Indian Monsoon during the Plio-Pleistocene in response to the onset of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation (Chloe Young, Exeter/OU/Bristol/BGS, NERC GW4+ DTP) - 2019
  • Vegetation and Fire reconstructions in response to Indian Monsoon evolution (Jinrong Gan, Exeter/OU) - 2019

Undergraduate/MSc projects

  • Nature and distribution of microplastic pollution in the Atlantic Ocean (Bailey Biggar at Oxford Brookes) -2019 ( with Wesley Fraser at Oxford Brookes)

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)                                 

Follow our Indian Monsoon research progress               


I have had the privilege of working with the following researchers:

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

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

Teaching modules

  • Environment: responding to change (SDT306) - module production
  • Environmental Science (S(FX)206) - module update (production) and presentation 
  • Earth processes (Oceans) (S309) - module production and presentation
  • Environment: sharing a dynamic planet (DST206) - module update and presentation
  • Science and society (S201) - module production 
  • An introduction to the Earth - Life System (S279) - module presentation and examination board chair
  • Practical Sciences (S288) - module presentation
  • Oceanography (S330)​ -  module presentation and examination board chair

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 contributed to the following science communicaton and public outreach events:

I am passionate about inspiring and giving opportunities for research placements to young people in our local area ('A' level)  working in partnership with the Nuffield Foundation. I have supported 27 students through the partnership over the decade, particularly focussing on students from diverse background (NRP endorsement). These placements will allow working on cutting-edge science in our laboratory during the summer break (~5 weeks). Also, I host undergraduate placement research experience students between June-September supported by NERC/UKRI (read Owen Drabwell's experience in 2019).

External collaborations

Ongoing collaborative projects

Firoze Quamar (BSIP, India), 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)

Services to the community:

                          Next Geochemical Society and EAG Townhall meeting - TBA


Conference organisation

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

International co-ordinator of Monsoon theme at 36th International Geological Congress - 2020 (New Delhi, India)

Convener of Monsoon session for Goldschmidt Conferences (2017, 2018)

Research groups

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


Externally funded projects

Integrating technological solutions to modernise the study and assessment of coral reefs
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Feb 202031 Jan 2028Operation Wallacea Ltd

PhD project looking at technological solutions to mapping and monitoring coral reef fish populations

CENTA 2017 intake
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Oct 201730 Sep 2021NERC 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 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 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 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.