May Murungi

Researcher, ICArEHB

Interdisciplinary Center for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behaviour (ICArEHB)
FCHS, University of Algarve
Campus de Gambelas
8005-139 Faro

(+351) 289 800 988

ORCID: 0000-0002-5786-7196

Associated Researcher – Human Evolution Research Institute, University of Cape Town

Research Interests

Phytoliths in modern plants, Reconstructing past vegetation and climate, Human-environment interactions, Late Pleistocene and the Holocene, Phytolith analysis.

Short Bio

I am interested in paleoecology using phytolith analysis to reconstruct past vegetation structure and long-term human-environment interactions in eastern and southern Africa. I obtained my BSc. Ed (biology & chemistry), and MSc. Biology (ecology, natural resources & conservation) in 2013, from Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda. During my MSc. I applied phytolith analysis on Late Holocene sediments from lake cores obtained from an alpine lake in the Virunga Mountains. I was introduced to its application in Archaebotany and the Pleistocene using archaeological sediments from Sibudu Cave for my PhD which I completed at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2018 (funded by PAST, the Leakey Foundation & the NRF, SA), where I also held a GENUS postdoc fellowship up to 2020. Between 2021 and 2023, I was a Carnegie Foundation & HERI (Human Evolution Research Institute) postdoc fellow at the University of Cape Town until I joined ICArEHB through its ERC-funded DISPERSALS Project that investigates migration and dispersal of early humans in eastern and Southern Africa. Through various collaborations I have worked at other sites in South Africa such as Bushman Rock Shelter, Umhlatuzana Rock Shelter, Olieboomspoort and KALKKOP Crater.