Mike Zwick

ERC-funded Ph.D. student for the ALKENoNE project

PhD student applying palaeoclimatology, micropalaeontology, organic/isotope geochemistry and eDNA for quantitative climate reconstructions in the Canadian Prairie.



Research title: “Recording High-resolution Changes in Temperature and Hydrology in the Canadian Prairies – Proxy Development and Application”

Research Summary

Born in northern Germany, I studied Geosciences and specialized in palaeoclimate reconstructions. At this juncture I am particularly interested in the development and application of micropalaeontological, geochemical and geophysical methods to infer parameters relevant to the understanding of past climate systems and to use that knowledge in modelling.
In my bachelor thesis I conducted morphological and statistical analyses of planktic foraminifera tests from the Holocene (NE of Brazil) and created a model that predicts the size normalized weight of Orbulina universa based on shell thickness and porosity. I used this model to explain several intraspecific characteristics and to determine if phenotypological variances can be used to distinguish different genotypes in down core studies.
For my master thesis I participated in a 9-week expedition (PS87 – “Alpha Ridge-Lomonosov Ridge Expedition”) to the Central Arctic Ocean, a region governed by extreme seasonality and a prominent indicator/amplifier of climate changes. We collected material that I later used to reconstruct ice concentrations and water mass characteristics (salinity, productivity and temperature) above the western Lomonosov Ridge for the last 130 ka. For this intent I analysed Ostracod thanatocoenoses, applied biostatistical methods and performed geochemical measurements on selected species/morphotypes of Ostracods and benthic/ planktic foraminifers.
During my studies of organic geochemistry, I became fascinated by the application of biomarker derived proxies for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. This is why I joined BECS in October 2016 as postgraduate research student for the ALKENoNE project. Within this project I am especially interested in the use of long-chain diols, long-chain alkenones, n-alkanes, compound specific isotopes, genomics and ostracods for quantitative environmental reconstructions in the Canadian Prairie. This extension of the terrestrial temperature record far beyond the measured record is vital for the understanding of drought related processes and future vulnerability assessments.


M. Zwick, J. Matthiessen J. Wollenburg, R. Stein and ARK-XXVIII/4 Shipboard Scientific Party (2015). Quantitative micropaleontological and sedimentary facies analysis of surface samples from the Lomonosov Ridge. Abstract and Poster for Third International PAST Gateways Conference 2015.

M. A. Kaminski, F. Niessen, E. Bazhenova, L C. De La Guardia, B. Coakley, H. De Vernal, G. Eagles, H. Eisermann, M. Forwick, C. Gebhardt, W. Geissler, T. Horner, L. Jensen, H. Jin, W. Jokat, S. Kaboth, B. Kimmel, H. Kolling, C. Kopsch, A. Kudriavtseva, J. Matthiessen, S.-I. Nam, F. Petersen, A. K. Prim, F. Riefstahl, I. Sauermilch, M. Schreck, Robert Spielhagen, R. Stein, C. Stolle and M. Zwick (2015). Modern agglutinated foraminifera from the Hovgård ridge, fram strait, west of Spitsbergen: Evidence for a deep bottom current.Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae vol. 85: 309–320.


ERC-funded Scholarship for the ALKENoNE project (3.5 years): Stipend (14,296 £/year); Paid fee (4,121 £/year)


GES Mobility Scholarship (£601) 2017

GES Conference Support Fund (£300) 2017

ECORD Scholarship (£1064) 2017

SAGES Small Grants Scheme SSGS (£638) 2017

Principal's Early Career Mobility Scheme (£3233) 2017

Sages Small Grants Scheme SSGS (£513) 2018



  • Third PAST Gateways International Conference and Workshop 2015, co-sponsored by the IPA held in Potsdam, Germany (18-22 May 2015)
  • NERC IAPETUS Isotope Workshop, 2016, held in Glasgow (University of Glasgow & SUERC (23-24 November 2016)
  • Paleoclimatology Summer School in Urbino, 2017, held in Italy (12-28 July 2017) 
  • Tsukuba Global Science Week 2017, held in Tsukuba, Japan (20-22 September 2017); recipient of the "Outstanding Speaker Award" from the President of the University of Tsukuba (Kyosuke Nagata)
  • British Organic Geochemical Society (BOGS) conference 2018, held in Bristol, UK (12-13 July 2018)
  • Goldschmidt conference 2018, held in Boston USA (12-17 August 2018)
  • QRA Postgraduate Symposium 2018, held in Glasgow (22-24 August 2018)


Co-Supervision of Eilidh Towers, L4, Earth Sciences, Project: “Sedimentological history of Lake Success – A case study of the Holocene in the Canadian Prairies.”, (November 2017 - March 2018), Primary supervisor: Dr Jaime Toney

Co-Supervision of Kyle Watts, L4, Earth Sciences, Project: “Understanding the past climate of the Northern Great Plains through lacustrine sediment analysis.” (November 2017 - March 2018), Primary supervisor: Dr Jaime Toney

Course material preparation for MSc course in Water Policy/Management (September 2018)

Earth Sciences L2 Lab Demonstration for Palaeobiology (January 2017)

Geography L2 Lab Demonstrator for Statistics and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)  (September - November 2018)

Geography L2 Tutor for Globalisation, Mass Movements, Sediments (September - November 2018)

Geography L2 Lab Demonstrator for Sediment Labs (February - March 2019)

Geography L2 Tutor for Climate Change (February - March 2019)

Additional Information

School of Geographical & Earth Sciences Profile:
Public Engagement:
Member of:

- Biomarker for Environmental and Climate Science (BECS)

- Quaternary Research Association (QRA)

- Geochemical Society (GEOSOC)

- The Micropalaeontological Society (TMS)

- Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment & Society (SAGES)

- British Organic Geochemical Society (BOGS)