JenAtchisonDr Jennifer "Jenny" Atchison

BEnvSc (Hons), PhD

Phone:   +61 2 4221 4134
Room:    B41.G15

  • Honorary Fellow

Professional profile
  • Qualifications: BEnvSc (Hons), PhD
  • Senior Research Assistant (AUSCCER)
  • Member of ANGA, Archaeobotany in Australia and New Guinea Network

Key research interests
  • Cultural ecology of plants
  • Archaeobotany and ethnobotany of Australian plants
  • Fire and disturbance in tropical savannahs
  • Geography and sustainability of Food production
  • Australian Aboriginal landscapes in deep and recent times

I am a geographer and environmental scientist interested in Aboriginal use of plants over longer and more recent time frames, as well as the interaction of people and plants in contemporary life. My research utilises a wide range of scientific as well as qualitative social science and cultural research methods. My PhD examined the late Holocene and post contact vegetation history of the Keep River region of the Northern Territory, specifically Aboriginal use and management of fruit trees, and use and management of yams (Dioscorea sp.). More recently my postdoctoral research within AUSCCER examined the cultural geography of wheat in Australia, focusing on the transformation and mobility of wheat as a food and industrial substance, and on the experience of climate change in the everyday lives of wheat farmers in NSW.

Representative publications
  • Murray, C. D., Pearson, S. G., Fullagar, R., Chase, B. M., Houston, J., Atchison, J. M., White, N. E., Bellgard, M.I., Clarke, E., MacPhail, M., Gilbert, M. T. P., Haile J. & Bunce, M. 2012. High-throughput sequencing of ancient plant and mammal DNA preserved in herbivore middens. Quaternary Science Reviews 58: 135-145.
  • Head, L. M., Atchison, J. M., & A. Gates 2012. Ingrained: a human bio-geography of wheat. Burlington: Ashgate.
  • Atchison, J. M. & L. Head (in press). Exploring human-plant entanglements: the case of Australian Dioscorea yams, in D. Frankel, J. Webb and S. Lawrence (eds.) Archaeology in Environment and Technology: Intersections and Transformation. Forthcoming with Routledge
  •  Atchison, J. & L. M. Head. 2012. Yam landscapes; the biogeography and social life of Australian Dioscorea, in L. Russell & Z. Ma Rhea (eds.) The world of plants in Aboriginal Australia: essays in honour of Beth Gott. The Artefact,volume 35.
  •  Denham, T., Atchison, J. M., Austin, J., Bestel, S., Bowdery, D., Crowther, A. et al. 2009 Archaeobotany in Australia and New Guinea: Practice, potential and prospects. Australian Archaeology. 68:1-10.
  • Atchison, J. M. 2009. Human impacts on Persoonia falcata: Perspectives on post-contact vegetation change in the Keep River region, Australia, from contemporary vegetation surveys. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. 18: 147-157.
  •  Atchison J. M., Head, L. M. & Fullagar, R. L. 2005. Archaeobotany of fruit seed processing in a monsoon savannah environment: evidence from the Keep River region, Northern Territory, Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science. 32: 167-181.

Jenny Atchison 1 Jenny Atchison 2

Yam (Dioscorea longifolia) holes dug by Aboriginal people, Keep River, Northern Territory, Australia; Water lily (Nymphaea gigantea) seed processing, Keep River, Northern Territory, Australia (Photos: J. Atchison).

Searchable Publication List: from 2000

Research projects

My current research within CAS include collaborations with Dr Richard Fullagar on the palaeo history and archaeology of the Pilbara region, W.A.  and within AUSCCER: ‘The Cultural Ecology of Australian Plants’ (with Professor Lesley Head) and the ‘New Biogeographies’ project (with Professor Lesley Head and Dr Nick Gill).

Current projects
  • "Palaeo history and archaeology of the Pilbara region, W.A"., with Dr Richard Fullagar
  •  "Cultural Ecology of Australian Plants" (ARC Discovery project, Professor Lesley Head, 2006-2009).
  • "New Biogeographies" with Professor Lesley Head and Dr Nick Gill, funded by UOW research grant 2008.

Potential Honours and PhD topics

I welcome students interested in discussing potential research projects within CAS, in particular projects focusing on: macroscopic analysis of archaeobotanical remains; perspectives on post-European vegetation and landscape change in Northern Australia; ethnobotany of Australian food plants; and social and cultural perspectives on Aboriginal plant use.

More at the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences (SEES) website.

Print pdf version of this page

Last reviewed: 24 August, 2018