My long-term research interest is the natural history of the Amazon region and its seaward extension, the Amazon Fan. In my research I have mostly focused on western Amazonia (Colombia, Peru, Brazil) and my most substantial scientific contributions were to identify the crucial role of Andean uplift on the evolution of Amazonia during the Cenozoic and to recognize the Neogene marine incursions into this region.
In recent years my work has concentrated on interdisciplinary cooperation and data integration. This is best exemplified in a Science paper (Hoorn et al., 2010), where the links between biodiversity patterns and mountain uplift are explained in the context of the Andes-Amazonian system. More recently my work focussed on the interaction between mountain building, climate and biodiversity at large (Antonelli et al., 2018). Other examples of multidisciplinary, collaborative work are Amazonia, Landscape and Species Evolution (2010) and Mountains, Climate and Biodiversity (2018), both books are published by Wiley-Blackwell.
Between 2011 and 2015 I coordinated a research project in the framework of Climamazon, a European - Brazilian collaboration that investigated Amazon drainage basin. In this project we studied the onset and development of the Amazon River (see Hoorn et al., 2017) and the effects on primary productivity at sea (Lammertsma et al., 2018). Other research that I am involved in is centered on the integration of palynological and geological data with molecular phylogenies (e.g. Woutersen et al., 2018).
Currently I participate as senior scientist in the ERC funded project entitled MAGIC with focus on the origin of the Asian monsoons. The collaboration with Asian colleagues took further shape during my Presidents International Fellowship Initiative with the Chinese Academy of Sciences at the Xinjiang Institute for Ecology and Geography in Urumqi.
I am geologist/paleoecologist and associate professor at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) of the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). In 1988 and 1994 respectively I obtained my MSc and PhD at this university, and in 2003 obtained an MSc degree in Science Communication at Imperial College London (UK).
Currently I am Associate Editor for the Journal of Biogeography and coordinator for the special issue on Alexander von Humboldt. Furthermore, I am board member of the Treub Foundationand also of the Palynological Society of the Netherlands.
In 2018 I was visiting scientist at Xinjiang Institute for Ecology and Geography (Urumqi, China) through a fellowship of the the Chinese Academy of Sciences - International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI), and working on the topic “Changes in arid Central Asian flora across time and possible origins of typical taxa along the Paratethys Sea (including Nitraria, Caragana, Atraphaxis, Gymnocarpos, selected Chenopodiaceae).
I am also collaborating scientist in the ERC funded research project entitled Monsoons of Asia caused Greenhouse to Icehouse Cooling (MAGIC) and participate in the Transamazon drilling project. The latter was awarded 1.5 million euros by the International Continental Drilling Project and drilling is projected to start in 2019.