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Professor Jennifer Mc Elwain

Professor of Botany (1711) (Botany)

Jennifer (Jenny) McElwain holds the 1711 Chair of Botany at Trinity College Dublin's School of Natural Sciences. She is currently the Head of Botany within the School and Director of Trinity Botanic Gardens. Over the past 20 years her research and teaching have focused on the development and use of palaeobotanical methods (proxies) that use fossil plants to reconstruct the evolution of Earth's atmospheric composition and climate on multimillion year timescales. Her research team use both fossil plants and modern experimentation to investigate how fluctuations in atmospheric composition and climate have influenced plant evolution and ecology throughout Earth history. Her research programme has been successfully funded through both national and international grants and awards including Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Research Council, European Research Council, US National Science Foundation, National Geographic and Marie Curie. She was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in June 2017 and awarded for Excellence in EU research by the President of Ireland in 2012. She has published over 100 internationally peer reviewed publication and two editions of a well-regarded textbook The Evolution of Plants, Oxford University Press. She acted as a board member of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice and is currently the Chair of the Royal Irish Academy Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Science. Before joining TCD in 2017, she was an Associate Professor/Professor at University College Dublin for 11 years, a curator of fossil plants at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (2000-2006) and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Sheffield, UK (2003-2006). She graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a BA Botany in 1993 and from Royal Holloway University of London with a PhD in 1997.
  Botany   CLIMATE CHANGE   PALAEOCLIMATE   Palaeoecology
 Irealnd's 5 Year Climate Assessment Report - Writer Support Award - Volume 1A
 Climate Change and Land Use in Ireland
 Future Mangroves: Effects of Climate Change on mangrove forests in semi-arid regionss
 PlantSenseKit -Plants as sensors for standardization and calibration of controlled environment chambers (PI)
 SFI Infrastructure -Integrated plant phenomics and future experimental climate platform (PI)

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Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
Member of The Royal Irish Academy 2017 Present
Board Member, Mary Robinson Climate Justice Foundation Board of Directors 2015 Present
Steinthorsdottir M., Elliott-Kingston C., Coiro M., McElwain J.C., Searching for a nearest living equivalent for Bennettitales: a promising extinct plant group for stomatal proxy reconstructions of Mesozoic pCO2, GFF, 143, (2-3), 2021, p190 - 201, p190-201 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Pardoe H.S., Cleal C.J., Berry C.M., Cascales-Minana B., Davis B.A.S., Diez J.B., Filipova-Marinova M.V., Giesecke T., Hilton J., Ivanov D., Kustatscher E., Leroy S.A.G., McElwain J.C., Oplustil S., Popa M.E., Seyfullah L.J., Stolle E., Thomas B.A., Uhl D., Palaeobotanical experiences of plant diversity in deep time. 2: How to measure and analyse past plant biodiversity, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 580, 2021, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Matthaeus W.J., Macarewich S.I., Richey J.D., Wilson J.P., McElwain J.C., Montanez I.P., DiMichele W.A., Hren M.T., Poulsen C.J., White J.D., Freeze tolerance influenced forest cover and hydrology during the Pennsylvanian, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118, (42), 2021, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Xie, S.-P. and Zhang, S.-H. and McElwain, J.C. and Zhang, P. and Wang, B. and Zhang, Y. and Yang, Y.-H. and Chen, J.-Y., First occurrence of Camptotheca fruits from late Miocene of southwestern China, Historical Biology, 2021, Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Devaney, J.L. and Marone, D. and McElwain, J.C., Impact of soil salinity on mangrove restoration in a semiarid region: a case study from the Saloum Delta, Senegal, Restoration Ecology, 29, (2), 2021, Notes: [cited By 2], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Yiotis, C. and Mcelwain, J.C. and Osborne, B.A., Enhancing the productivity of ryegrass at elevated CO2is dependent on tillering and leaf area development rather than leaf-level photosynthesis, Journal of Experimental Botany, 72, (5), 2021, p1962-1977 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI
Bacon, K.L. and Haworth, M. and McElwain, J.C., Effects of sulfur dioxide exposure on leaf mass per area of selected gymnosperms and implications for interpreting the plant fossil record, International Journal of Plant Sciences, 182, (6), 2021, p564-575 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Cleal, C. and Pardoe, H.S. and Berry, C.M. and Cascales-Miñana, B. and Davis, B.A.S. and Diez, J.B. and Filipova-Marinova, M.V. and Giesecke, T. and Hilton, J. and Ivanov, D. and Kustatscher, E. and Leroy, S.A.G. and McElwain, J.C. and OpluÅ¡til, S. and Popa, M.E. and Seyfullah, L.J. and Stolle, E. and Thomas, B.A. and Uhl, D., Palaeobotanical experiences of plant diversity in deep time. 1: How well can we identify past plant diversity in the fossil record?, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 576, (110481), 2021, Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Tierney, J.E. and Poulsen, C.J. and Montañez, I.P. and Bhattacharya, T. and Feng, R. and Ford, H.L. and Hönisch, B. and Inglis, G.N. and Petersen, S.V. and Sagoo, N. and Tabor, C.R. and Thirumalai, K. and Zhu, J. and Burls, N.J. and Foster, G.L. and Goddéris, Y. and Huber, B.T. and Ivany, L.C. and Turner, S.K. and Lunt, D.J. and McElwain, J.C. and Mills, B.J.W. and Otto-Bliesner, B.L. and Ridgwell, A. and Zhang, Y.G., Past climates inform our future, Science, 370, (6517), 2020, Notes: [cited By 17], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Zhou, Ning, Wang, Yongdong, Ya, Li, Porter, Amanda S., Kürschner, Wolfram M., Li, Liqin, Lu, Ning, McElwain, Jennifer C., An inter-comparison study of three stomatal-proxy methods for CO2 reconstruction applied to early Jurassic Ginkgoales plants, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 542, 2020, p109547 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI

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Jennifer McElwain, Marlene Hill-Donnelly and Ian Glasspool, Tropical Arctic; Lost Plants, Future Climates and the Discovery of Ancient Greenland, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2022, Book, PUBLISHED
Willis, K.J. and McElwain, J.C. , The Evolution of Plants, 2nd Edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013, 1 - 400pp, Book, PUBLISHED
Willis, K.J. and McElwain, J.C. , The Evolution of Plants, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002, 1 - 400pp, Book, PUBLISHED
McElwain, J.C. , 'Atmospheric CO2 - Stomata' In: Briggs D.E.G. and Crowther P.R (eds), 2001, -, Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED
McElwain, J.C. , 'Evolution of the Atmosphere' In: Singer R (eds), 2000, -, Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED


Award Date
Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in Environmental Science and Geoscience 2022
Elected Professorial Fellow of Trinity College Dublin May 2019
President's Medal, Palaeontological Assocaition 2017
Elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy 2017
Ireland's Champion of EU Research Award 2012 awarded by President M.D. Higgins 2012
Best Paper Award PALAIOS 2011
Featured scientist in L'Oreal's International Women in Science 2008
University of London Rita Madge Award for Academic Excellence 1996
University of London Webb Scholarship Award 1995
Trinity College Dublin, Senior Edge Prize 1993