Dr Dawson's research expertise lies in the areas of tsunami sedimentation, Holocene sea-level change, coastal and climate change, and diatom biostratigraphy.
Her present research activities include projects on Holocene relative sea level changes and tsunamis in the Maldives archipelago, Sweden, Scotland, Canada and Greenland. In Scotland, on-going projects include the reconstruction of former sea level changes and extreme flooding events on the Isle of Skye and the Orkney Isles; Holocene tsunamis and relative sea level changes in the Shetland Isles.
The project seeks to identify the nature, timing and magnitude of Holocene tsunamis in the Shetland Isles. The research programme involves sediment coring in marine inlets (voes) and nearshore lochs to derive a history of Holocene relative sea level changes that can be linked to the chronology of palaeotsunamis. In addition to research interests on a Holocene timescale, she is working on recent environmental changes with a study on the sedimentology and geomorphology of recent storm deposits in the Outer Hebrides. This research also investigates the preservation of extreme events in the sediment record over a variety of timescales.