Dr Sanja Van Huet

STAFF PROFILE

Position

Casual Academic

Faculty

Faculty of Arts and Education

Department

SoE Arts & Ed

Campus

Melbourne Burwood Campus

Qualifications

Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University, 2005
Master of Science, Monash University, 1996
Bachelor of Education, Monash University, 1984

Contact

s.vanhuet@deakin.edu.au
+61 3 924 68529

Biography

I am a sedimentologist and taphonomist specialising in sand dunes, swamps and bogs.

I am interested in the environment of the Quaternary age (the last 2 million years) and the animals that lived at the time, known as megafauna.  These animals include the extinct giant Diprotodon (like a giant wombat), Sthenurus, Macropus titan (giant kangaroo) and Thylacoleo (marsupial lion).


My Masters work involved studying a mass of vertebrate fossil megafaunal bones deposited in a coarse sedimentary ‘raft’ at Lancefield Swamp, north of Melbourne.  This included a study of the Quaternary local climate and fluvial conditions that would have influenced the deposition. 


As part of this study I also examined all  fossil bones and mandibles found in the swamp for signs of disease to determine if climatic stress may have influenced the demise of local fauna, and also determined the number of cut marks (either from predation or indigenous hunting practices) in all elements.


My PhD focused on King Island, Bass Strait, where I explored the palaeosol (fossil soil) layers in the sand dunes that ring most of the Island.   I aimed to link these deposits to Late Quaternary to Holocene sea level changes and storm surge events. 


My PhD also included a comparison the leg bones (tarsometatarsi and tibiotarsi) of the now extinct dwarf King Island Emu (Dromaius ater) to the now extinct Kangaroo Island Emu (Dromaius baudinianus) in view of resolving the relationship between these two isolated species.

My current research interests are in Quaternary environmental changes, megafaunal extinction processes and taphonomical determination related to palaeontological sites.


Previous to joining Deakin, I worked in the exploration mining industry. 

Read more on Sanja's profile

Biography summary

My main interest is in the link between climate change and the megafaunal extinctions during the Quaternary in Australia.

I have done research at Lancefield Swamp in Victoria and King Island, Tasmania.

I love swamps sand dunes and bogs - strange that I am.

Research interests

Sedimentary (fluvial) environments, geo-concentration processes (south-eastern Australia), taphonomy, palaeontology. 
These include lateritic, placer, dune, swamp, riverine and lacustrine deposits, palaeosol development and Quaternary/Holocene past environments, faunas and climatic processes.

Teaching interests

Australian Quaternary Ecology

Landscape evolution

Taphonomy

Beach and swamp sedimentology

Laterite and palaeosol development

Climate change and extinction

Units taught

SLE 102 Physical Geography

SLE 202 Landscape Evolution

Third year research projects are also available

Knowledge areas

Sedmentology, taphonomy, Australian Quaternary environments, Vertebrate megafauna, elemental comparison between the King Island and Kangaroo Island emu

Media appearances

Behind the news

Quantum

Projects

My current projects include:

Quatitative determination of the qualitative  taphonomical groups describing abrasion and weathering in fossil bones.

The association and relationship between the Kangaroo and King Island emus

The  effect of climate on the extinction of the Australian megafauna

Research projects available to eligible students:

Third year semester projects:
- Contribution to data set showing trend in climatic events in southeastern Australia over the Quaternary era.

- Sediment analysis of fossil bearing strata

- Morphological differences in the post cranial limbs of extinct dwarfed island emus

Honours projects:
- Development of a quantitative method of evaluating abrasion on fossil and sedimentary material using Imagej.

- Assessment of abrasion and weathering in the post cranial limbs of extinct Australian megafauna

- Field work projects