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Department of Geography


Professor Harriet D Allen MA MSc PhD

Interim Head of Department, Professor of Physical Geography, and Fellow of Girton College

Physical geographer with a special interest in biogeography, Quaternary and environmental change



  • 2002-present Fellow, Tutor & Director of Studies, Girton College, Cambridge
  • 2001-present Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 1986-2001 Senior Lecturer in Geography, Homerton College, Cambridge


  • MA Geography, University of Cambridge (Girton College)
  • MSc Geography, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada: A dendrochronological record from the Slims Valley, Yukon, Canada
  • PhD University of Cambridge: Late Quaternary of the Kopais Basin, Greece: sedimentary & environmental history


Harriet Allen is a member of the Geography Department’s Environmental Systems and Processes research group.

Harriet is a physical geographer with a range of research interests which focus on

  • Modelling the vegetation structure of Mediterranean ecosystems
  • The response of ecosystems to environmental change
  • Palaeoecological evidence for Holocene and contemporary environmental change

These areas of interest are firmly located within Mediterranean environments.

Current projects include:

  • Restoration of Mediterranean mosaic landscapes – the contribution of remote sensing
  • Mediterrranean wood pastures for biodiversity – making the lynx
  • Modelling the landscape ecology of Mediterranean shrubland ecosystems.
  • Use of airborne LiDAR to characterise vegetation communities.
  • Use of multisensor ariborne data to model Mediterranean sclerophyllous vegetation communities (Crete and Portugal).
  • Holocene and contemporary vegetation dynamics of Mediterranean ecosystems.

Current PhD students

Recent PhD students

  • Amy McGuire (2020) ‘The Quaternary of the eastern Mediterranean: Insights into changes in climate and environment and their impact on human populations’ Co: supervisor: Christine Lane
  • William Fletcher (2005) ‘Holocene Landscape History of Southern Portugal’
  • William Simonson (2012) ‘Vegetation structure and composition of Mediterranean oak forests: an investigation with airborne lidar’ (co-supervised with Dr DA Coomes, Dept of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge)


[Publications load automatically from the University’s publications database, Symplectic…]


Contributions as follows:

Geographical Tripos

  • Director of Undergraduate Teaching (2014-2017; 2018-2022)
  • Part IA: Physical Geography: Environmental Processes and Change
  • Part IB: Bioogeography; Remote Sensing
  • Part IB: Fieldtrips to the Algarve, Arolla (Switzerland), Tenerife, Cornwall
  • Parts IA, IB and II: skills and methods teaching including fieldwork
  • Part II: Biogeography; Life within Limits

External activities

University activities

  • Chair: Equality and Diversity Forum, School of Physical Sciences

External activities

  • External examining
  • Coordinating Editor, Landscape Ecology (Springer) (2011-2019)
  • Committee member (Chair), Biogeography Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) (to 2018)
  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society, with the Institute of British Geographers
  • Committee member, Geographical Association (Cambridge Branch)
  • Member, Quaternary Research Association
  • Member, International Biogeography Society
  • Member, British Ecological Society