Hilary Stuart-Williams

I completed a BA (Joint Hons) in Archaeology and Geology at the University of Bristol, England, in 1976 after several archaeological field seasons in Iraq. Following university I moved to processing seismology in England and Ireland, rising to Senior Seismologist before moving to the oil industry in Calgary, Canada at the end of 1980. I then rose to Senior Exploration Geologist before quitting the industry in 1986 to become Keeper of Archaeology for the Jersey heritage Trust (Jersey, U.K.), caring for the island’s archaeological museums and remains. This was followed by a move to McMaster University (Ontario, Canada) in 1990 to start a PhD on lead isotopes in paintings. I never got to enjoy the lead because I was shifted immediately to studying oxygen isotopes in animal bones. I completed the PhD largely on beaver teeth and human bones and moved onto several postdocs examining speleothems and then teaching. Late in 1997 I moved to the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia in England to help run the stable isotope lab there. In 2001 I came to the Research school of Biology as a Research Officer in stable isotopes for Professor Graham Farquhar.

Research interests

A high proportion of my time is spent in keeping the instruments in the Stable Isotope Laboratory running as smoothly as possible, and in ensuring that samples are processed fast  and the results returned to the researchers. One of my main interests is in method development and the majority of my publications are in this area. For example I believe that I am the only person to have built a line dedicated to reacting phosphates with bromine for oxygen isotope analysis, and the only person to having reacted carbonates with sulphamic acid at elevated temperatures to examine non-aqueous fractionation. Despite that, my main research interests are probably in the information provided by environmental isotope patterns, both in the present day and in the past, and what they can tell us about ancient environments and the habits of past peoples.

Selected publications

  • Lewis, S.E., Brodie, J.E., McCulloch, M.T., Mallela, J., Jupiter, S.D., Stuart-Williams, H., Lough, J.M. And Matson, E.G. (2011) An assessment of an environmental gradient using coral geochemical records, Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Mar. Pollut. Bull. Doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.09.030
  • Lucas A. Cernusak, Graham D. Farquhar, S. Chin Wong, and Hilary Stuart-Williams (2004) Measurement and interpretation of the oxygen isotope composition of carbon dioxide respired by leaves in the dark. Plant Physiol. 2004 136: 3350-3363.
  • McLaughlin, K.,, Silva, S., Kendal, C., Stuart-Williams, H., and Paytan, A. (2004) A precise method for the analysis of d18O of dissolved inorganic phosphate in seawater. Limnol. Oceanogr.: Methods 2: 202-212
  • Stuart-Williams, Hilary Le Q. (1990) Archaeological excavation of Le Blanc Moulin,  Queen's Valley, Jersey, 1989.  Bulletin of the Société Jersiaise, 25(2): 273-296.
  • Stuart-Williams, H. Le Q. and Schwarcz, H.P. (1995)  Oxygen isotopic analysis of silver orthophosphate using a reaction with bromine.  Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 58, 3837-3841
  • Stuart-Williams, H. Le Q. and Schwarcz, H.P. (1997)  Oxygen isotopic determination of climatic variation using phosphate from beaver bone, tooth enamel, and dentine Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta  61: 2539-2550
  • Stuart-Williams, H. Le Q. (2004) A new method for the isotopic examination of sub-  milligram carbonate samples, using sulphamic acid (NH2.SO3H) at elevated   temperatures.  Handbook of stable isotope analytical techniques.  P. De Groot (Ed), Elsevier, Amsterdam
  • White, C.D., Spence, M.W., Stuart-Williams, H. Le Q. and Schwarcz, H.P. (1998) Oxygen isotopes and the identification of geographical origins: the Valley of Oaxaca versus the Valley of Mexico. J. Archaeological Sci. 25: 643-655
  • Yi, Zhiguo, Ye, Jinhua, Fikugawa, Naoki, Kako, Tetsuya, Ouyang, Shuxin, Stuart-Williams, Hilary, Yang, Hui, Cao, Junyu, Luo, Wenjun, Li, Zhaosheng, Liu, Yun and Withers, Ray L. (2010) An orthophosphate semiconductor with photooxidation properties under visible-light irradiation. Nature Materials 9:559–564 doi:10.1038/nmat2780
  • Zhou, Youping, Grice, Kliti, Stuart-Williams, Hilary, Farquhar, Graham D., Hocart, Charles, Lu, Hong and Liu, W.G., (2009) Biosynthetic origin of the saw-toothed profile in 13C and of n-alkanes and systematic isotopic differences between n-, iso- & anteiso-alkanes in leaf waxes of land plants. Phytochemistry 71: 388-403.