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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. Lab web page:
  Botany   CLIMATE CHANGE   PALAEOCLIMATE   Palaeoecology
 TERRAFORM; The Evolution of Plant Functional Traits and How they Terraformed Earth
 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)

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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
Kovács, E.B. and Ruhl, M. and Silva, R.L. and McElwain, J.C. and Reolid, M. and Korte, C. and Ruebsam, W. and Hesselbo, S.P., Mercury sequestration pathways under varying depositional conditions during Early Jurassic (Pliensbachian and Toarcian) Karoo-Ferrar volcanism, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 637, (111977), 2024, Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Kipp, M.A. and StÃŒeken, E.E. and Strömberg, C.A.E. and Brightly, W.H. and Arbour, V.M. and Erdei, B. and Hill, R.S. and Johnson, K.R. and KvaÄ ek, J. and McElwain, J.C. and Miller, I.M. and Slodownik, M. and Vajda, V. and Buick, R., Nitrogen isotopes reveal independent origins of N2-fixing symbiosis in extant cycad lineages, Nature Ecology and Evolution, 8, (1), 2024, p57-69 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Haughey, E. and McElwain, J.C. and Finn, J.A., Annual yields of multispecies grassland mesocosms outperformed monocultures across a drought gradient due to complementarity effects and rapid recovery, Grassland Research, 2, (4), 2023, p309-321 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Hönisch, B. and Royer, D.L. and Breecker, D.O. and Polissar, P.J. and Bowen, G.J. and Henehan, M.J. and Cui, Y. and Steinthorsdottir, M. and McElwain, J.C. and Kohn, M.J. and Pearson, A. and Phelps, S.R. and Uno, K.T. and Ridgwell, A. and Anagnostou, E. and Austermann, J. and Badger, M.P.S. and Barclay, R.S. and Bijl, P.K. and Chalk, T.B. and Scotese, C.R. and de la Vega, E. and DeConto, R.M. and Dyez, K.A. and Ferrini, V. and Franks, P.J. and Giulivi, C.F. and Gutjahr, M. and Harper, D.T. and Haynes, L.L. and Huber, M. and Snell, K.E. and Keisling, B.A. and Konrad, W. and Lowenstein, T.K. and Malinverno, A. and Guillermic, M. and Mejía, L.M. and Milligan, J.N. and Morton, J.J. and Nordt, L. and Whiteford, R. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. and Rugenstein, J.K.C. and Schaller, M.F. and Sheldon, N.D. and Sosdian, S. and Wilkes, E.B. and Witkowski, C.R. and Zhang, Y.G. and Anderson, L. and Beerling, D.J. and Bolton, C. and Cerling, T.E. and Cotton, J.M. and Da, J. and Ekart, D.D. and Foster, G.L. and Greenwood, D.R. and Hyland, E.G. and Jagniecki, E.A. and Jasper, J.P. and Kowalczyk, J.B. and Kunzmann, L. and KÃŒrschner, W.M. and Lawrence, C.E. and Lear, C.H. and Martínez-Botí, M.A. and Maxbauer, D.P. and Montagna, P. and A. Naafs, B.D. and Rae, J.W.B. and Raitzsch, M. and Retallack, G.J. and Ring, S.J. and Seki, O. and Sepúlveda, J. and Sinha, A. and Tesfamichael, T.F. and Tripati, A. and van der Burgh, J. and Yu, J. and Zachos, J.C. and Zhang, L., Toward a Cenozoic history of atmospheric CO2, Science, 382, (6675), 2023, Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Matthaeus, W.J. and Macarewich, S.I. and Richey, J. and Montañez, I.P. and Mcelwain, J.C. and White, J.D. and Wilson, J.P. and Poulsen, C.J., A Systems Approach to Understanding How Plants Transformed Earth's Environment in Deep Time, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 51, 2023, p551-580 , Notes: [cited By 3], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Baker, S.J. and Dewhirst, R.A. and McElwain, J.C. and Haworth, M. and Belcher, C.M., CO2-induced biochemical changes in leaf volatiles decreased fire-intensity in the run-up to the Triassicâ€"Jurassic boundary, New Phytologist, 235, (4), 2022, p1442-1454 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Matthaeus, W.J. and Montañez, I.P. and McElwain, J.C. and Wilson, J.P. and White, J.D., Stems matter: Xylem physiological limits are an accessible and critical improvement to models of plant gas exchange in deep time, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 10, (955066), 2022, Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
McElwain, J., Jennifer McElwain, Current biology : CB, 31, (12), 2021, pR772-R774 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
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

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Bea Jackson, Tcd masters Thesis chapter 3 and 4 data, tcd thesis , 2023, Dataset, PRESENTED
Bea Jackson, Thesis Chapter 2 - stomatal measurements CO2 dataset , TCD masters thesis, 2023, Notes: [Submitted for Research Masters Degree], Dataset, PRESENTED
Bea Jackson, Data for chapter 3 and 4 of masters thesis, Tcd thesis dataset, 2023, Dataset, PRESENTED
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
Elected Fellow of the Paleontological Society 2021
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