Academic Profile

Richard Bailey is an Associate Professor in Geochronology, Tutorial Fellow, and Dean, of St Catherine's College, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (Oxford), and member of the Oxford Biodiversity Institute (Oxford Martin School). He is also the Director of the School of Geography and the Environment Luminescence Dating Laboratory. Prior to September 2006, he held positions including a Lecturership in Physical Geography (Royal Holloway, University of London), NERC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (University of Oxford), Research Fellowships at St John's College and the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (University of Oxford); and a Stipendiary Lectureship in Physical Geography, St Catherine's College (Oxford).

He acts as a reviewer for several international journals in the fields of geography, environmental change and applied physics (including Quaternary Science Reviews, Holocene, Palaeogeography-Palaeoclimatology-Palaeoecology, Journal of Applied Physics) and has reviewed grants for various UK and international bodies. He is a member of several learned societies including St John's College, Oxford, the American Geophysical Union, Quaternary Research Association and the Royal Geographical Society.

Current Research

Richard's current research interests are in the dynamics of natural environmental systems and human-environment interactions over a range of timescales and contexts. He uses a broad array of research methods, including numerical modelling, empirical field methods and laboratory analyses. Much of his ongoing work is influenced by Complex Systems research, particularly in regard to modelling human-environmental systems. Under the broad heading of 'Sustainability and Resilience', his interests are in how the resilience of natural systems changes over time, and how humans can best interact with natural systems in ways which optimises both service provision and system sustainability/resilience. He also engages in work on long-term environmental change, over timescales from decades to hundreds of thousands of years, running the Optical Dating laboratory and working in field areas within southern African and the US.

Brief details of three on-going projects are given below:

Marine resource management

This work uses a combination of theoretical modelling and empirical data analysis to investigate new practical approaches to fisheries management in a range of contexts. The extraction of ocean resources plays out as a complex interaction between ocean ecology, collections of individual fishermen, economics and policy. Finding management solutions which engender sustainability both ecologically and economically, in conditions which are dynamic and heterogeneous on a variety of temporal and spatial scales, is non-trivial and is the key problem that drives this research. The current project is a collaboration between University of Oxford (School of Geography and the Environment; Institute for New Economic Thinking), Ocean Conservancy, George Mason University (US), University of California at Santa Barbara (US), Improbable. Further details.

Dynamics of ecological systems

This project is a collaboration between University of Oxford and Kew. The main focus of the project is to gain a deeper understanding of possible changes in the resilience/stability/fragility of ecological systems through time, using both numerical simulation of ecological networks and empirical data. The comparative project targets savannah, marine and forest ecosystems in the search for general underlying dynamical properties. Further details.

Landscape dynamics in Iceland

The degree of resilience of landscapes to climate instability and human pressure is an open question in may contexts. Iceland provides a unique opportunity to study human-climate-landscape interactions and the conditions under which regime shifts (transitions between different landscape states) may occur. This is due in part to the exquisitely well-dated sedimentary sequence of the last ~8,000 yrs, and the highly detailed historical records of human activity. In many locations throughout Iceland, there is strong evidence that a critical transition has occurred in the behaviour of the landscape - a transition from a more resilient, geomorphologically stable condition, to a less resilient 'runaway erosion' condition. A major focus of this project is to understand the combination of conditions/events/pressures that led to this transition, using numerical simulation and empirical field-based data. The project is a collaboration between University of Oxford and the Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge and St. Andrews. Further details.


Undergraduate teaching

Dr Bailey contributes to the core 'Geographical Techniques (Statistical Analysis)' course for the Preliminary Examination. He also shares teaching of the Final Honour School Option course 'Quaternary Period', for which he is course director.

Postgraduate teaching

He lectures on the core course on 'Statistics and Quantitative Methods' spanning the MSc courses Biodiversity, Conservation and Management; Environmental Change and Management; and Water Science, Policy and Management. He is also a contributor and course director for the 'Modelling Environmental Systems' core course of the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management.

Current Graduate Research Students

Catherine Buckland

Determining dryland landscape sensitivity to natural and human disturbances using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) techniques, Nebraska Sandhills

Megan Cole

Towards defining sustainability thresholds for South Africa

Jerome Mayaud

Development and testing of a coupled vegetation / sediment-transport model for dryland environments

Diana Bailey(RLAHA, Oxford)

Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)

S. Pawley(2007; Univ. of London)
J. Singarayer(2004)

Selected Publications

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