Dr McGowan is Associate Professor in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. She uses techniques of palaeolimnology and aquatic ecology to investigate how humans and climate interact to change lake ecosystem structure and function over timescales of years to millenia.
She specialises in the analysis of chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) techniques and is experienced in diatom analysis. Her research has applied these techniques in palaeolimnological studies of high latitude sites in West Greenland, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, northern Canada and Russia.
Research in Southwest Greenland (including Kangerlussuaq, Sisimiut and Disko Island) has included the calibration and interpretation of biological proxies to make inferences about the past precipitation balance over Holocene timescales and the investigation of atmospheric nitrogen deposition as an agent of recent lake nutrient enrichment. Recent work is focused on the use of pan-Arctic lake sediment records to determine how major vegetation transitions in lake catchments influence lake carbon processing.