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Department of Earth Sciences



2018 - present Junior Research Fellow, Queens' College, University of Cambridge
2019 - present Visitor, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Caltech
2014 - 2018 PhD, "Kinematics and Dynamics of Continental Deformation", Bullard Laboratories / Pembroke College, University of Cambridge
2013 - 2014 MSci, Experimental and theoretical physics, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge
2010 - 2013 BA Natural Sciences, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge 


I am interested in understanding how the Earth's lithosphere deforms a wide range of spatial and temporal scales and how understanding this deformation can improve our knowledge of seismic hazard.

My research looks at the deformation of Earth's continents. I analyse and model a range of datasets, including seismological records, satellite imagery, GPS and radar, in order to understand both the patterns of deformation which we observe, and the forces which generate them. How the continents deform in response to an applied force is controlled by their material properties (rheology). By looking both at observed deformation and the forces driving it I am able to place constraints on this rheology. My work spans timescales from individual earthquakes to the cenozoic, and lengthscales from individual faults to continents. I am particularly interested in reconciling different estimates of lithosphere rheology, and combining multiple observations to improve our understanding of the Earth. For a non-scientific perspective on some of my work, see my articles for Caltech Letters and The Conversation.

My research also looks at earthquakes as hazards, and the causes of disasters more generally. In 2020 I co-founded the Cambridge Disaster Research Network, which aims to bring together researchers interested in disasters and natural hazards from departments across the University of Cambridge. The network connects hazard and disaster research and researchers across disciplines, and links academic approaches to the needs and experience of practitioners. There are more details on our website. We host bi-weekly seminars during term time. These are listed on our page, and recordings of past seminars can be found on our YouTube channel. This interdisciplinary group has also led to research on novel approaches to horizon scanning and how expert opinion is used in the anticipation of future risks.

More generally, I am interested in how Earth Sciences as a discipline relates to the world, and particularly how a discipline with its foundations in colonialism and extractivism, can be adapted to serve a socially just, post-extractivist future. As part of this work I co-founded and organise the Department of Earth Sciences Geoscience in Context seminar series, which aims to broaden earth scientists' understanding of geosciences' place in society, the history of the subject, its modern practice, and its role in shaping the future. A selection of past seminars can be found on the department's YouTube channel.

I also run the Twitter account for Women Doing Science, a social media movement showcasing diverse women in STEM. You can follow us on Instagram or Twitter.


Key publications: 

Research Associate
Junior Research Fellow, Queens' College
Dr Camilla   Penney

Contact Details

Email address: 
Bullard Laboratories
+44 (0) 1223 37192


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