Janelle is a palaeoecologist with a particular interest in landscapes of the past, how these have changed under different climatic scenarios, and how we can disentangle climate change from human action in the palaeoenvironmental record. She received her PhD from the University of NSW where she investigated the role of people and climate in shaping the landscapes of New Caledonia. She has continued to work on these questions for landscapes across the Pacific as well as Northern Australia and Island Southeast Asia. Along the way she has been involved in developing new methods and techniques to produce higher resolution and higher quality records with mercury analysis as an anthropogenic signal the latest addition to her tool box.
Janelle has led and been a part of a number of multidisciplinary projects and currently heads up the ARC Discovery Project The pace and rythm of climate: 600,000 years in biological hotspot. This project is generating knowledge of long-term changes in vegetation and rainfall for the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, a region that exerts enormous influence on the Earth’s climate. This record of vegetation, fire and biodiversity for the last one million years in Sulawesi, will be unrivaled in length and resolution for the region making it a benchmark reconstruction of palaeoclimate and transforming our understanding of the IPWP.
The work she is currently most passionate about are the two-way learning partnerships that she and other colleagues from across the ANU are developing with several Aboriginal communities. In particular the exploration of Indigenous fire management and the creation of Australia’s cultural landscapes.