Dr. Penelope (Penny) Jones
Junior Research Fellow
Menzies Institute for Medical Research
University of Tasmania
Penny is a palaeoecologist, archaeologist, aerobiologist and public health researcher. Her initial research training was in palaeoecology, studying long term fire and vegetation dynamics in the Tasmanian Midlands. After a stretch working in environmental policy, she moved to the University of Cambridge for her PhD, where she used stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis to investigate the archaeology of climate change and food security in Bronze Age South Asia.
Since returning to Australia in 2016, Penny’s major focus has been the intersection of fire, pollen and other atmospheric conditions on human health. She currently manages the AirRater project (www.airrater.org), working with an inter-disciplinary team led by A/Prof Johnston and including several other fire centre members including Prof David Bowman, Dr Grant Williamson and Chris Lucani. Developed in 2015, AirRater is a smartphone app and research project designed to reduce the impacts of smoke, pollen and extreme weather on health and wellbeing.
As well as AirRater-based research projects on aeroallergen forecasting, thunderstorm asthma, and the ‘aerial microbiome’, Penny also maintains a keen interest in her first research passion – the intertwined human and ecological history of Australia. In this field, she has recently completed a project using habitat suitability modelling to map the landscape distribution of archaeological sites in Tasmania.
Penny is also passionate about science communication and the science policy interface, and currently volunteers on the ‘Science in the Pub’ organising committee.