What We Do

The primary focus of the new state-of-the-art palaeoecology laboratory is to conduct palynological (pollen) studies, with a strong geographic emphasis on the Cape south coast and the Cape Floristic Region in general.

While our initial and primary focus will be on pollen analysis, our overarching goal is to establish a highly versatile open science resource-base for palaeoscience research at Nelson Mandela University.

We welcome and support research in all forms of microfossil analyses, including micro- and macro-charcoal, phytoliths, diatoms, forams and ostracods.

Head of Laboratory:  Dr Lynne Quick

Lynne Quick is a Senior Research Fellow associated with the African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience at Nelson Mandela University. She is a palynologist with interests in palaeoecology and palaeoclimatology. She is working on the development of new palaeoenvironmental records in southern Africa and has a key focus on the vegetation history and past climate dynamics of the Cape Floristic Region.

Senior Laboratory Technician: Ms Erin Hilmer

Erin Hilmer completed an undergraduate BSc degree at Nelson Mandela University followed by an honours in geology at the University of Stellenbosch. In addition to her role as the Senior Laboratory Technician of the new palaeolab, she manages Port Elizabeth’s only pollen and spore trap and generates weekly pollen and spore data for the city. This work forms part of a national monitoring network (www.pollencount.co.za). She also has expertise in geochronology and scanning electron (SEM) microscopy.


Processing laboratory: In line with the primary focus of the palaeolab, we have a processing laboratory with standard equipment  to aid in the concentration and extraction of palynomorphs from sediment samples.

Microscope room: Microfossil identification and counting takes place in our state-of-the-art microscope room where we have four Leica DM500 and one DM2000 LED light microscopes.

The key feature of the new palaeolab is our Nikon ECLIPSE Ti2-E Inverted Microscope with fully automated stage  and micromanipulation capabilities.

Digital Pollen Reference Collection

We are grateful to NRF SANBI’s Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP) - Small Grants (2019) for initial start-up funding for the digitising of old Cape Floristic Region pollen reference material. The reference collection can be accessed via this link.


We are associated with, and supported by, the African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience and are grateful for seed funding from the National Research Foundation African Origins platform, the Nelson Mandela University Trust and Nelson Mandela University.
Contact Us
Lynne Quick
Head of Laboratory