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Dr Holly East

Assistant Professor

Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences

I undertake research at the intersections between geomorphology and ecology in tropical coastal environments, particularly within seagrass and reef island systems. Specifically, my research is focussed on: (1) reconstructing the development of coral reef islands over millennial to decadal timescales in relation to past environmental change; (2) quantifying reef sediment budgets and contemporary reef-to-island connectivity; (3) understanding seagrass systems in reef island settings, particularly their spatial dynamics, ecosystem services, and relationships with anthropogenic activities; and (4) use of geospatial analysis, through GIS and remote sensing, to improve our understanding of coastal environments.


02/2019 – present: Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Northumbria University

08/2017 – 01/2019: Lecturer in Physical Geography, Northumbria University

01/2016 – 07/2017: Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Exeter

02 - 07/2016: Associate Research Fellow, University of Exeter


PhD (2017), Physical Geography, University of Exeter

MPhil (2012), Environmental Science: GIS and Remote Sensing, University of Cambridge

BA (2011), Geography, University of Cambridge

Holly East

Campus Address

Ellison Building

My research interests are focused on the interface between geomorphology and ecology in tropical coastal environments, particularly within seagrass and reef island systems. My recent work has included reconstructions of past reef island evolution in relation to environmental change, calculation of reef sediment budgets, and analyses of connectivity between seagrass meadows and reef islands.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Coral reef island shoreline change and the dynamic response of the freshwater lens, Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives, Carruthers, L., East, H., Ersek, V., Suggitt, A., Campbell, M., Lee, K., Naylor, V., Scurrah, D., Taylor, L. 19 Jun 2023, In: Frontiers in Marine Science
  • Emergent increase in coral thermal tolerance reduces mass bleaching under climate change, Lachs, L., Donner, S., Mumby, P., Bythell, J., Humanes, A., East, H., Guest, J. 22 Aug 2023, In: Nature Communications
  • Honduran Reef Island Shoreline Change and Planform Evolution over the Last 15 Years: Implications for Reef Island Monitoring and Futures, Husband, E., East, H., Hocking, E., Guest, J. 30 Sep 2023, In: Remote Sensing
  • No apparent trade-offs associated with heat tolerance in a reef-building coral, Lachs, L., Humanes, A., Pygas, D., Bythell, J., Mumby, P., Ferrari, R., Figueira, W., Beauchamp, E., East, H., Edwards, A., Golbuu, Y., Martinez, H., Sommer, B., van der Steeg, E., Guest, J. 12 Apr 2023, In: Communications Biology
  • Post-bleaching alterations in coral reef communities, Elma, E., Gullström, M., Yahya, S., Jouffray, J., East, H., Nyström, M. 1 Jan 2023, In: Marine Pollution Bulletin
  • Seagrass meadows are important sources of reef island-building sediment, East, H., Johnson, J., Perry, C., Finlay, G., Musthag, A., Zahir, H., Floyd, M. 14 Feb 2023, In: Communications Earth and Environment
  • Lagoonal reef island formation in Huvadhoo atoll, Maldives, highlights marked temporal variations in island building across the archipelago, Liang, C., Kench, P., Ford, M., East, H. 1 Oct 2022, In: Geomorphology
  • Mainstreaming the Environment: Exploring pathways and narratives to improve policy and decision‐making, Scott, A., Holtby, R., East, H., Lannin, A. 1 Feb 2022, In: People and Nature
  • SizeExtractR: A workflow for rapid reproducible extraction of object size metrics from scaled images, Lachs, L., Chong, F., Beger, M., East, H., Guest, J., Sommer, B. 14 Mar 2022, In: Ecology and Evolution
  • Fine-Tuning Heat Stress Algorithms to Optimise Global Predictions of Mass Coral Bleaching, Lachs, L., Bythell, J., East, H., Edwards, A., Mumby, P., Skirving, W., Spady, B., Guest, J. 7 Jul 2021, In: Remote Sensing

  • Geography PhD January 09 2018
  • Environmental Science and other Physical Science MPhil June 30 2012
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy FHEA

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