Dr Angela Self

Photograph of myself sitting beside a glacial lake
  • Quantitative Ecologist/ Statistician
  • Life Sciences department
  • Insects
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment history

2010-present:       Post-doctoral Researcher, The Natural History Museum, London.

2009-2010            Research technician, The Natural History Museum, London.


2005-2010         Ph.D. (Geography), NERC-funded CASE award, Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London (UCL) and the Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum (NHM), London. 

Title: The relationship between chironomids and climate in high latitude Eurasian lakes: implications for reconstructing Late Quaternary climate variability from sub-fossil chironomid assemblages in lake sediments from northern Russia. 

2004-2005         M.Sc. by Research, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Greenwich.  

2001-2004         B.Sc. (Honours) Geology, University of Greenwich. 

Professional Roles


2010 – 2013 Named PDRA. Influence of global teleconnections on Holocene climate in Kamchatka. NERC standard grant. Lead PI - Steve Brooks, Department of Entomology,NHMSteve Brooks 

External collaborations

The NERC-funded Kamchatka project is a multi-proxy study in collaboration with:

  • Prof. Keith Bennett , Queen’s University Belfast
  • Dr Vivienne Jones and Dr Nadia Solovieva, UCL, London
  • Dr Larisa Nazarova, Alfred Wegener Institute, Potsdam
  • Dr Oliver Heiri, University of Bern


Public Engagement

Learning events, The Natural History Museum and UCL, London        2009 - present

  • Regularly participate in ‘meet the scientist’ events delivered in the public galleries

  • Participate in A-level Geography taster courses, at University College London, to enable students to experience the laboratory techniques used to reconstruct past climates and environments and to encourage students to apply to university

  • Demonstrator on ‘Chironomids: water quality and climate change’ short course organised by the Environmental Change Research Centre, Department of Geography UCL and NHM  

Associate lecturer, The Open University          2009 - present

  • Tutoring undergraduates on the level 2 Geology course (S276)

  • This involves marking and providing feedback on assignments, running field trips and tutorials, helping the students understand the course material and prepare for the end-of-course assessment



My main areas of interest are determining the extent and impacts of past and present climate change on mid to high latitude ecosystems. In my research I use chironomid midges preserved in lake sediments to make quantitative estimations of past climate. Chironomidae is a family of two-winged flies (Insecta: Diptera), often referred to as Chironomids or non-biting midges, and they are sensitive indicators of past climates. The winged adults disperse widely and lay their eggs in water bodies. If the environmental conditions are suitable the eggs hatch and develop through larval and pupal stages before emerging as adults. In many freshwater systems their larvae are abundant and diverse, there are 5000 described species and up to 15000 species may exist in total. The larval head capsules are usually well-preserved in lake sediments and most specimens are identifiable at least to generic level. Many species are stenothermic (only capable of surviving within a narrow temperature range) so a small change in temperature can lead to a different assemblage of larvae within the lake. Analysing subsamples from lake sediment cores enables the chironomid assemblages to be recorded over time and from this data the changes in environmental conditions can be estimated.

Holocene climate reconstructions from arctic and subarctic Russia

For my Ph.D. I investigated the response of chironomids to past and present environmental change in Arctic Russia.  Average arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the rate of the rest of the world over the last 100 years (IPCC 2007) and this trend is predicted to continue as high latitudes are predicted to warm by 4 - 7°C in the next century (ACIA 2004, 2005). Arctic Russia is often poorly represented in the global perspective of climate trends and their affects on ecosystems due to the scarcity of observational or proxy records.  By compiling a data set of lakes from northern European Russia to central Siberia in collaboration with David Porinchu, Ohio State University, USA and Larisa Nazarova, Alfred Wegener Institute, Potsdam I developed chironomid-based inference models to reconstruct July air temperature and continentality (Self et al. 2011). I applied these models to lake cores from the Pechora Basin, North-east European Russia and Putorana Plateau, western Siberia to produce estimates of changes in July air temperature and continentality over the past 11,500 years. The climate reconstructions from European Russia formed part of palaeoenvironments work package in the EU funded CarboNorth project. The models have also been applied by the palaeolimnological research community to interglacial and Holocene sequences from central and NW Europe.

The Holocene climate of Kamchatka

I am currently investigating Holocene climate change in Kamchatka, the Russian Far East as part of a multi-proxy project including chironomids, oxygen isotopes, diatoms and pollen to improve our understanding of the climate teleconnections between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific.


  • J. S. Salonen, H. Seppä, M. Väliranta, V. J. Jones, A. Self, M. Heikkilä and S. Kultti. ( 2011 ) The Holocene thermal maximum and late-Holocene cooling in the tundra of NE European Russia. Quaternary Research 75 : 501-511 . 10.1016/j.yqres.2011.01.007
  • Jones, V.J., Solovieva, N., Self, A.E., McGowan, S., Rosén, P., Salonen, S., Seppä, H., Väliranta, M., Parrott, E. and Brooks, S.J. ( 2011 ) Jones, V.J., Solovieva, N., Self, A.E., McGowan, S., Rosén, P., Salonen, S., Seppä, H., Väliranta, M., Parrott, E. and Brooks, S.J.  The influence of Holocene treeline advance and retreat on an arctic lake ecosystem; a multi-proxy study from Kharinei Lake, North Eastern European Russia. Journal of Paleolimnology 46 : 123-137 . 10.1007/s10933-011-9528-7
  • Plociennik M.; Self A.; Birks H.J.B. and Brooks S. ( 2011 ) Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) succession in Żabieniec bog and palaeo-lake (central Poland) through the Late Weichselian and Holocene. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 307 : 150-167 . 10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.05.010
  • Self, A.E. Brooks, S.J. Birks, H.J.B. Nazarova, L. Porinchu, D.  Odland, A. Yang H.  and Jones V.J. ( 2011 ) The distribution and abundance of chironomids in high-latitude Eurasian lakes with respect to temperature and continentality: development and application of new chironomid-based climate-inference models in northern Russia. Quaternary Science Reviews 30 : 1122-1141 . 10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.01.022
  • Angela Self and Steve Brooks ( 2010 ) Diptera in glacial and post-glacial lake sediments. Peter Chandler (Ed.), In: The Dipterists’ Handbook, 2nd edition . .