Professor Barbara Maher


Research Interests

Barbara is Professor and co-Director of LEC’s internationally-renowned Centre for Environmental Magnetism & Palaeomagnetism, Lancaster University. Recent awards and distinctions include the Schlumberger Award of the Mineralogical Society of Gt Britain & Ireland (2014), Pilkington Teaching Award (2013), a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2006-2012), the Institute of Physics’ award of the Chree Medal and Prize (2005) for ‘pioneering contributions to the study of magnetic signals from the geological record as a means of determining climatic changes’), Chairmanship of the Rock Magnetism Group, International Union of Geophysics and Geodesy, 2002 – 2006 (and re-elected Chair, 2006 – 2008), and Vice-presidency of the Quaternary Research Association, 2008 - 2010.

Her major research interests are in Environmental Magnetism and Palaeomagnetism, for purposes of retrieving palaeoclimatic, palaeoenvironmental and dating information from the magnetic records of Quaternary terrestrial sediments (soils, loess, tills, lake sediments), deep-sea sediments, and pre-Quaternary rocks. She led the international Working Group (INQUA ‘DIRTMAP3’ and NERC-QUEST) on Dust and Climate.

She is also involved in the application of magnetic methods to current environmental processes and problems, including magnetic monitoring and sourcing of particulate pollutants, tracing of modern fluvial sediment sources, and magnetic 'clean-up' of contaminated waters. She led the team which recently discovered the abundant presence of externally-derived, magnetite pollution particles in the human brain, identifying for the first time a possible causal role for these toxic particles in human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease.

  • Centre for Biophotonics
  • Earth Science
  • Innovation for a better environment
  • Sustainable Catchments
  • Understanding a changing planet