Dr Aisling Dolan

Dr Aisling Dolan


As the Research & Innovation Manager, my main role is to support the School's research strategy, implementing and overseeing key research-related initiatives. I am a member of the School Research Committee and provide direct support to the Director of Research and Innovation. I am responsible for a variety of areas including implementing policies around research funding strategies, staff recruitment and open access requirements. I also work on strategic projects relating to enhancing research activity within the School and the external profile of our excellent research portfolio.

Additionally, I remain active in research. I did my PhD in Palaeoclimate Modelling at the University of Leeds and until 2014, I worked as an ERC Fellow. My main research area involves understanding the nature of the Pliocene warm period, which serves as a useful analogue for future climate change. My core skills are numerical climate and ice sheet modelling. I am on the advisory panel for PlioMIP (Pliocene Model Intercomparison Projects) and lead the international Pliocene Ice Sheet Modelling Intercomparison Project (PLISMIP) alongside researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Utrecht University. 

In 2014 I was elected to sit on the AGU Council as an Early Career Scientist and served on the Council (2014-2018) and as a member of the Council Leadership Team (2016-2018).  I am now a member of the AGU Leadership Development and Governance Committee and am involved in the nomination and process around selecting candidates for election to the AGU board.  Within SEE I also work towards enhancing the research experience of early career scientists and have established an Early Career Forum within the school.

Research interests

As a PhD student I developed the first physical models of Pliocene ice sheets which assessed the contribution of orbital forcing to ice sheet stability. This has lead to the significance of the role of orbital forcing on the wider Pliocene to be more fully appreciated. I also am the Leader of the Pliocene Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (PLISMIP). PLISMIP is the first co-ordinated effort to systematically assess the model dependency of ice sheet reconstructions in a warm interval in Earth history. It currently involves over 30 researchers (15 ice sheet modelling groups) world-wide. At present I am co-ordinating the implementation of a new set of palaeogeographic boundary conditions into climate models for a future phase of the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP). This new method I am developing is an innovative approach to reconstructing past topography and will be implemented in multiple climate models around the world in PlioMIP. I have also published work on the first climate model simulations of a Pliocene Glacial, a pioneering study which will enable the comparison of glacial and interglacial climates.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, University of Leeds
  • MRes, Science of the Environment, Lancaster University
  • BSc, Geography Major (German Minor), Aberystwyth University

Professional memberships

  • American Geophysical Union
  • European Geosciences Union

Student education

Current PhD Students:

  • Yvonne Smith: Modelling iceberg trajectories and the nature of ice sheets during the Pliocene

  • Lauren Burton: Palaeo constraints on the 1.5°C world: What does the Pliocene tell us about the long-term effects of atmospheric CO2 at ~400 ppmv?

Past PhD Students

  • Despina Zoura: Modelling ancient Eurasian seaways and the onset of the Asian aridity
  • Dario Domingo: Mathematical methods for uncertainty quantification in reconstructions of past climate
  • Caroline Prescott: Orbital forcing and its importance in understanding the warm Pliocene
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>