Sandra Bruegger Profile Photo
Dr. Sandra Bruegger
PostDoc - Volunteer

I am a passionate paleoecologist interested in vegetation, land use, and fire history preserved in glacier ice and other natural archives. My expertise covers projects around the globe from the remote Polar region to the Neotropics with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaborations to understand the complex interactions between ecosystems and climate over centennial to millennial timescales. I particularly enjoy the challenges to conducting research in biogeographical regions where paleodata is still scarce. I conduct optical microfossil analyses including pollen, spores, charcoal, and other non-pollen palynomorphs (NPP) in ice cores and lake sediments, and recently learned black carbon measurements from Lake sediments
Short CV
Postdoctoral resercher, Desert Research Institute, Reno (10/2019-to date)
  • SNSF Postdoc.Mobility fellowship (SNSF grant P400P2-199285): “Reconstructing biomass burning and fossil fuel emissions from New Zealand lake sediments using established and novel fire proxies: Atmospheric effects of late 13th century Maori settlements. Duration: 18 months (01/04/2021-30/09/2022)
  • SNSF Early Postdoc.Mobility fellowship (grant P2BEP2-188180) Spatial variability of vegetation-, biomass burning-, and fossil fuel pollution dynamics in the Arctic along a South-North transect from palynological ice records in Central Greenland over the past millennium. Duration: 18 months (01/10/2019-31/03/2021)
PhD of Science in Climate Sciences, University of Bern, Switzerland (December 18, 2018).
  • Thesis: “FrozenNature The palynological contribution to reconstruct paleo fire, vegetation, land use, and pollution dynamics from high-alpine ice cores”
  • Graduation with highest honors (summa cum laude)
Master of Science in Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland (01/2015)
Bachelor of Science in Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland (03/2012)


Paleoecology, pollen analyses, ice core, fire history, paleodiversity,


Brügger, S., Watts, T. (2021). Transportation Network Companies: Drivers? Perceptions of Ride-Sharing Regarding Climate Change and Extreme Weather, Climate, 10.3390/cli9080131

Rey, F., Brügger, S., Gobet, E., Andermatten, R., Bonini, A., Inniger, H., Maurer, C., Perret-Gentil-dit-Maillard, N., Riederer, J., Heiri, O., Tinner, W., Schwörer, C., Schwörer, C. (2021). 14,500 years of vegetation and land use history in the upper continental montane zone at Lac de Champex (Valais, Switzerland), Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 10.1007/s00334-021-00859-6

Brügger, S., Schwikowski, M., Gobet, E., Schwörer, C., Rohr, C., Sigl, M., Henne, S., Pfister, C., Jenk, T., Henne, P., Tinner, W. (2021). Alpine glacier reveals ecosystem impacts of Europe’s prosperity and peril over the last millennium, Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1029/2021GL095039

Kiosak, D., Kotova, N., Tinner, W., Szidat, S., Nielsen, E., Brügger, S., de Capitani, A., Gobet, E., Makhortykh, S. (2021). The last hunter-gatherers and early farmers of the Middle Southern Buh river valley (Central Ukraine) in VIII?V Mill. BC, Radiocarbon, 10.1017/RDC.2020.120

Rhode, D. E., Louderback, L. A., Brügger, S. (2020). Holocene subalpine forest-parkland dynamics in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Wasatch Mountains, Utah, USA, The Holocene, 10.1177/0959683620972761

Brügger, S., Rhode, D. E. (2020). Impact of Pleistocene-Holocene climate shifts on vegetation and fire dynamics and its implications for Prearchaic humans in the central Great Basin, USA, Journal of Quaternary Science, 35 (8), 987-993.

Osmont, D., Brügger, S., Gilgen, A., Weber, H., Sigl, M., Modini, R., Schwörer, C., Tinner, W., Wunderle, S., Schwikowski, M. (2020). Tracing devastating fires in Portugal to a snow archive in the Swiss Alps: a case study, The Cryosphere, 10.5194/tc-14-3731-2020

Brügger, S., Gobet, E., Osmont, D., et al. (2019). Tropical Andean glacier reveals colonial legacy in modern mountain ecosystems, Quaternary Science Reviews, 10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.06.032

Brügger, S., Gobet, E., Blunier, T., et al. (2019). Palynological insights into global change impacts on Arctic vegetation, fire, and pollution recorded in Central Greenland ice, The Holocene, 10.1177/0959683619838039

Brügger, S., Gobet, E., Schanz, F., et al (2018). Why loss matters: Reply to the comments of Festi and others on ?A quantitative comparison of microfossil extraction methods from ice cores? by Brugger and others (2018), Journal of Glaciology, 10.1017/jog.2019.61

Brügger, S., Gobet, E., Sigl, M., et al. (2018). Ice records provide new insights into climatic vulnerability of Central Asian forest and steppe communities, Global and Planetary Change, 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2018.07.010

Brügger, S., Gobet, E., Schanz, F., et al. (2018). A quantitative comparison of microfossil extraction methods from ice cores, Journal of Glaciology, 10.1017/jog.2018.31

Brügger, S., Gobet, E., van Leeuwen, J., et al. (2016). Long-term man-environment interactions in the Bolivian Amazon: 8000 years of vegetation dynamics, Quaternary Science Reviews, 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.11.001

Conference Proceedings
Brügger, S., Chellman, N. J., Arienzo, M. M., Stohl, A., Eckhardt, S., McConnell, J. R. (2020). Human-environmental interactions in the Arctic inferred from microfossils in Central Greenland ice, Eos Trans. AGU, Fall Meet. Suppl.,, Abstract B080-0018

Brügger, S., Chellman, N. J., Arienzo, M. M., Stohl, A., Eckhardt, S., Blunier, T., McConnell, J. R. (2020). The role of microfossils in central Greenland ice cores to reveal past ecosystem changes, Virtual American Quaternary Association (AMQUA) 2020 – 50th Anniversary Biennial Meeting

Brügger, S., Chellman, N. J., Arienzo, M. M., McConnell, J. R. (2020). The contribution of microfossils to reconstruct past ecosystems from Central Greenland ice cores, Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA)