Position

AINSE Senior Research Fellow
School of Chemical & Physical Sciences

Biography

Rachel Popelka-Filcoff’s research program uses radioanalytical and spectroscopic methods for the application to cultural, environmental and forensic questions. Her work is to the first comprehensive characterisation of Australian Aboriginal natural mineral pigments on cultural heritage materials, including ochre, by several advanced analytical methods. She also analyses uranium materials by a variety of methods for international nuclear forensics projects, and has worked on several classes of diverse materials for forensic and environmental projects.

A significant portion of her research is based at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), as well as collaborations with other forensic and cultural heritage institutes and universities. Rachel holds a BA in Archaeology and Classics from Washington University in St Louis (USA), a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Missouri (USA) as an NSF Research Fellow, and completed a National Research Council postdoc at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, USA).

Rachel has received awards for her research including the South Australian Tall Poppy of the Year in 2012, which recognises the top early career researcher in the state. In 2015 she was recognised in the League of Remarkable Women in Science. She has also had her research profiled in several scientific and general media outlets such as Cosmos Magazine, Chemistry in Australia, and Chemistry World, and radio and television interviews.

Rachel is the President of the Society for Archaeological Sciences, and is on the editorial board of Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Rachel recently finished her term on the executive committee for the Early and Mid Career Research Forum for the Australian Academy of Science, and was recently appointed the Secretary of the Analytical and Environmental Division of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

Qualifications

B.A. Archaeology and Classics, Washington University in St. Louis (USA) 1999
Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Missouri (USA) 2006

Honours, awards and grants

Flinders University Re-Entry Fellowship (2014)

South Australian Tall Poppy of the Year (2012)

Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE), Research Fellow
Vice Chancellor's Awards for Early Career Researchers (Flinders University)
Modern Trends in Activation Analysis Young Scientist Travel Award
National Research Council, Research Associate Fellowship (USA)
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (USA)
University of Missouri-Columbia Preparing Future Faculty Fellow
Society for Archaeological Sciences-R.E. Taylor Student Poster Award
American Nuclear Society James Vogt Graduate Fellowship in Nuclear Science
University of Missouri-Columbia Stevens Graduate Fellowship

Major Grants:

ARC LIEF, Project LE130100115 (2012) Prideaux et al., Confocal microscope for high-resolution microtopographic analysis of surfaces in historical, forensic and polymer sciences. $180,000

AINSE Research Fellowship

Key responsibilities

Radiation Safety Officer, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences

President, Society for Archaeological Sciences (2016-2018)

Executive Committee, Australian Academy of Science Early and Mid Career Research Forum, 2014- 2016

Committee Member, Royal Australian Chemical Institute Radiochemistry Division (December 2014-present)

Secretary, Royal Australian Chemical Institute Analytical and Environmental Division (2016- present)

Organizer of the Early Career Group for the Faculty of Science and Engineering and School of Medicine at Flinders University (December 2009-2016)

Teaching interests

Analytical Chemistry

Nuclear Chemistry

Archaeometry

Spectroscopy

X-ray methods

Nuclear Methods

Forensic Chemistry

Topic Coordinator:

  • CHEM2711  Spectroscopy and Data Analysis

Topic Lecturer:

Research expertise

  • Analytical chemistry
  • Archaeology
  • Other chemical sciences

Research interests

The focus of my research is in radioanalytical chemistry, or the application of nuclear and radiochemical analytical methodologies. My primary research interests are in archaeological science, forensics and environmental studies.

Archaeometry is a multidisciplinary field that centres on analysing the chemical and physical characteristics of ancient materials and artifacts to answer archaeological questions. Such research studies include questions concerning ancient material technologies, elucidating ancient economies and trade routes, and discovering artefact provenance and technologies. One of our primary projects in the group focuses on the characterisation and analysis of Australian ochre to understand its composition and exchange.

My projects are in partnership with colleagues at Flinders University, ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation), South Australian Museum, Artlab, PIRSA and others.

Analytical methods in my laboratory are applied to research questions in the areas of:

  • archaeology and cultural heritage
  • environmental and geological studies
  • fundamental radioanalytical methods
  • nuclear analytical methods
  • analytical and spectroscopic instrumentation
  • forensic studies
  • nuclear forensics

The techniques used in my group include:

  • neutron activation analysis (NAA)
  • particle induced X-ray emission (PIXE)
  • X-ray fluorescence (XRF)
  • IR spectroscopy

Supervisory interests

  • Analytical chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry sampling, analysis and interpretation
  • Archaeological chemistry
  • Archaeological science
  • Archaeometry
  • Chemistry
  • Elemental analysis
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Forensic and analytical chemistry
  • Inorganic electronic structure and spectroscopy
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Neutron activation analysis
  • Nuclear non-proliferation
  • Spectrometry
  • X-ray spectrometry

RHD research supervision

Current

Principal supervisor : Forensic Chemistry (1) ;

Associate supervisor : Analytical Chemistry (2) ; Archaeology (1) ; Cultural Heritage Analysis and Chemistry (Curtin Uni) (1) ;

Completion

Associate supervisor : Anaytical Chemistry (1) ;

RHD Student Achievements

  • Tiffany Reeves
    University 3 Minute Thesis Winner - July 2014
  • Tim Ditcham
    Gerald Laurence Memorial Award - November 2015
    AINSE Travel Scholarship - March 2016
  • Tiffany Reeves
    Playford Scholarship
  • Tim Ditcham
    United Uranium Scholarship

Publications

  • Popelka-Filcoff, R. (2014). Pigment analysis in archaeology. In Claire Smith, ed. Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. New York Dordrecht Heidelberg London: Springer, pp. 5948-5951.
    [10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2] [10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. (2014). Applications of Proton-induced X-ray Emission Spectroscopy (PIXE) In Haber, A. & Roberts, A., ed. Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology. New York: Springer, pp. 6167-6171.
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Craig, N., Glascock, M.D., Robertson, J.D., Aldenderfer, M. and Speakman, R.J. (2007). Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis of Ochre Artifacts from Jiskairumoko, Peru. In Michael D. Glascock, Robert J. Speakman, Rachel S. Popelka-Filcoff, ed. Archaeological Chemistry. USA: Americal Chemical Society (ACS) Publications, pp. 480-505.
    [10.1021/bk-2007-0968.ch026]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R., Glascock, M., Robertshaw, P. and Wood, M. (2005). Laser Ablation ICP-MS of African Glass Trade Beads. In Robert Speakman, Hector Neff, ed. Laser Ablation-ICP-MS in Archaeological Research. Albuquerque, USA: University of New Mexico Press, pp. 85-94.
  • Watson, R., Popelka-Filcoff, R., Mackey, E., Spatz, R., Kramer-Marek, G. and Capala, J. (2009). Quantification of Gold Nanoparticles in Mouse Tissues Using Neutron Activation Analysis. In Transactions of the American Nuclear Society. Illinois, USA: American Nuclear Society. American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting and Nuclear Technology Expo. Washington DC, USA. Nov 2009.
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R. and Lindstrom, R. (2007). Characterizing the NBSR for Establishing kO-NAA at NIST. In Transactions fo the American Nuclear Society. Illinois, USA: American Nuclear Society. ANS/ENS International Winter Meeting and Nuclear Technology Expo. Washington DC, USA. Nov 2007.
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R., Miksa, E., Robertson, D., Glascock, M. and Wallace, H. (2006). Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis Characterization of Ochre Sources from Southern Arizona. In Transactions of the American Nuclear Society. Illinois, USA: American Nuclear Society. ANS Winter Meeting and Nuclear Technology Expo. Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Nov 2006, pp. 487-488.
  • Reeves, T., Lenehan, C., Jones, P. and Popelka-Filcoff, R. (2012). Characterisation of Binders in Aboriginal and European Painted Works using Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry. Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia, 35(July 2012) pp. 104-106.
    [Web Link]
  • Robertshaw, P., Weise, C., Dussubieux, L., Lankton, J., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. and Glascock, M.D. (2009). Chemical analysis of glass from Nupe, Nigeria. Tribus, 58 pp. 83-95.
  • Mackey, E.A., Christopher, S.J., Lindstrom, R., Long, S.E., Marlow, A., Murphy, K.E., et al. (2010). Certification of Three NIST Renewal Soil Standard Reference Materials for Element Content: SRM 2709a San Joaquin Soil, SRM 2710a Montana Soil I, and SRM 2711a Montana Soil II. National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 260-172, pp. 1-39.
  • Robertshaw, P., Magnavita, S., Wood, M., Melchiorre, E., Popelka-Filcoff, R. and Glascock, M. (2009). Glass Beads From Kissi (Burkina Faso): Chemical Analysis and Archaeological Interpretation. In Sonja Magnavita, Lassina Kote, Peter Breunig, Oumarou A. Ide, ed. Crossroads / Carrefour Sahel. Cultural and technological developments in first millennium BC / AD West Africa. Frankfurt, Germany: Africa Magna Verlag. Cultural developments and technological innovations in first millennium BC/AD West Africa. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Mar 2008, pp. 105-118.
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Lenehan, C.E., Lombi, E., Donner, E., Howard, D.L., de Jonge, M.D., et al. (2016). Novel application of X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) for the non-destructive micro-elemental analysis of natural mineral pigments on Aboriginal Australian objects. Analyst,
  • Seyfang, K.E., Redman, K.E., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. and Kirkbride, K.P. (2015). Glass fragments from portable electronic devices: Implications for forensic examinations. Forensic Science International, 257 pp. 442-452.
    [10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.10.023] [Scopus]
  • Roberts, A.L., Campbell, I., Pring, A., Bell, G., Watchman, A.L., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., et al. (2015). A multidisciplinary investigation of a rock coating at Ngaut Ngaut (Devon Downs), South Australia. Australian Archaeology, 80(June) pp. 32-39.
    [Scopus] [Web Link] [Web Link]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Lenehan, C.E., Lombi, E., Donner, E., Howard, D.L., de Jonge, M.D., et al. (2015). Microelemental characterisation of Aboriginal Australian natural Fe oxide pigments. Analytical Methods, 7 pp. 7363-7380.
    [10.1039/c5ay01547b] [Scopus]
  • Donner, E., Scheckel, K., Sekine, R., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Bennett, J.W., Brunetti, G., et al. (2015). Non-labile silver species in biosolids remain stable throughout 50 years of weathering and ageing. Environmental Pollution, 205 pp. 78-86.
    [10.1016/j.envpol.2015.05.017] [Scopus]
  • Yu, Y., Shapter, J., Popelka-Filcoff, R., Bennett, J. and Ellis, A. (2014). Copper removal using bio-inspired polydopamine coated natural zeolites. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 273 pp. 174-182.
    [10.1016/j.jhazmat.2014.03.048] [Scopus]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R., Mauger, A., Lenehan, C., Walshe, K. and Pring, A. (2014). HyLogger™ near-infrared spectral analysis: a non-destructive mineral analysis of Aboriginal Australian objects. Analytical Methods, 6(5) pp. 1309-1316.
    [10.1039/C3AY41436A] [10.1039/c3ay41436a] [Scopus]
  • Colyer, K., Quinton, J., Pring, A., Popelka-Filcoff, R. and Lenehan, C. (2014). Determining the origins of particulates on Arkaroo Rock art. Open Journal of Archaeometry, 2(1) pp. 65-68.
    [10.4081/arc.2014.5301]
  • Kingery, A., Popelka-Filcoff, R., Lopez, D., Pottier, F., Hill, P. and Glascock, M. (2013). Analysis of geological ochre: its geochemistry, use, and exchange in the US Northern Great Plains. Open Journal of Archaeometry, 1(1) pp. 72-76.
  • Murrie, R., Quinton, J. and Popelka-Filcoff, R. (2013). Determination of the f parameter for k 0-neutron activation analysis at the Australian 20 MW OPAL research reactor. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 298(1) pp. 77-86.
    [10.1007/s10967-013-2542-7] [Scopus]
  • Reeves, T., Popelka-Filcoff, R. and Lenehan, C. (2013). Towards identification of traditional European and indigenous Australian paint binders using pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Analytica Chimica Acta, 803 pp. 194-203.
    [10.1016/j.aca.2013.09.012] [Scopus]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R., Lenehan, C.E., Walshe, K.A., Bennett, J., Stopic, A., Jones, P., et al. (2012). Characterisation of Ochre Sources in South Australia by Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia, 35(July 2012) pp. 81-90.
  • Osborne, O., Pring, A., Popelka-Filcoff, R., Bennett, J., Stopic, A., Glascock, M., et al. (2012). Comparison of the relative comparator and k0 neutron activation analysis technique for the determination of trace element concentrations in pyrite. Mineralogical Magazine, 76(5) pp. 1229-1245.
    [10.1180/minmag.2012.076.5.04] [Scopus]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R., Lenehan, C.E., Glascock, M., Bennett, J., Stoipic, A., Quinton, J., et al. (2012). Evaluation of Relative Comparator and k0-NAA for Characterization of Aboriginal Australian Ochre. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 291(1) pp. 19-24.
    [10.1007/s10967-011-1236-2] [Scopus]
  • Eiselt, B., Popelka-Filcoff, R., Darling, J. and Glascock, M. (2011). Hematite sources and archaeological ochres from Hohokam and O'odham sites in central Arizona: an experiment in type identification and characterization. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(11) pp. 3019-3028.
    [10.1016/j.jas.2011.06.030] [Scopus]
  • Craig, N., Speakman, R.J., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Aldenderfer, M., Blanco, L.F., Vega, M.B., et al. (2010). Macusani obsidian from southern Peru: A characterization of its elemental composition with a demonstration of its ancient use. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37 pp. 569-576.
    [10.1016/j.jas.2009.10.021] [Scopus]
  • Robertshaw, P., Wood, M., Melchiorre, E., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. and Glascock, M.D. (2010). Southern African glass beads: chemistry, glass sources and patterns of trade. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(8) pp. 1898-1912.
    [10.1016/j.jas.2010.02.016] [Scopus]
  • Aldenderfer, M., Craig, N., Speakman, R.J. and Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. (2008). Four-thousand-year-old gold artifacts from the Lake Titicaca basin, southern Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(13) pp. 5002-5005.
    [10.1073/pnas.0710937105] [Scopus]
  • Lindstrom, R., Zeisler, R., Mackey, E.A., Liposky, P.J., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. and Williams, R. (2008). Neutron irradiation in activation analysis: A new rabbit for the NBSR. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 278(3) pp. 665-669.
    [10.1007/s10967-008-1501-1] [Scopus]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Miksa, E.J., Robertson, J.D., Glascock, M.D. and Wallace, H. (2008). Elemental analysis and characterization of ochre sources from Southern Arizona. Journal of Archaeological Science, 35(3) pp. 752-762.
    [10.1016/j.jas.2007.05.018] [Scopus]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Robertson, J.D., Glascock, M.D. and Descantes, C. (2007). Trace element characterization of ochre from geological sources. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 272(1) pp. 17-27.
    [10.1007/s10967-006-6836-x] [Scopus]
  • Craig, N., Speakman, R.J., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Glascock, M.D., Robertson, J.D., Shackley, M.S., et al. (2007). Comparison of XRF and PXRF for analysis of archaeological obsidian from southern Peru. Journal of Archaeological Science, 34(12) pp. 2012-2024.
    [10.1016/j.jas.2007.01.015] [Scopus]
  • Robertshaw, P., Rasoarifetra, B., Wood, M., Melchiorre, E., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. and Glascock, M.D. (2006). Chemical Analysis of glass Beads of Madagascar. Journal of African Archaeology, 4(1) pp. 91-109.
    [10.3213/1612-1651-10064] [Scopus]
  • Robertshaw, P., Glascock, M.D., Wood, M. and Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. (2003). Chemical analysis of ancient African glass beads: a very preliminary report. Journal of African Archaeology, 1(1) pp. 139-146.
    [Scopus]
  • Shergur, J., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Robertson, J.D. and Pollack, D. (2003). Distinct Chemical Patterns in late Mississippian Carbon-Welborn ceramics of the lower Ohio River Valley. North American Archaeologist, 24(3) pp. 221-244.
    [Scopus] [Web Link]
  • Wopenka, B., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Pasteris, J.D. and Rotroff, S. (2002). Understanding the Mineralogical Composition of Ancient Greek Pottery through Raman Microprobe Spectroscopy. Applied Spectroscopy, 56(10) pp. 1320-1328.
    [10.1366/000370202760355046] [Scopus]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Lenehan, C.E., Lombi, E., Donner, E., Howard, D.L., de Jonge, M.D., et al. (2016). Novel application of X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) for the non-destructive micro-elemental analysis of natural mineral pigments on Aboriginal Australian objects. Analyst,
  • Roberts, A.L., Campbell, I., Pring, A., Bell, G., Watchman, A.L., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., et al. (2015). A multidisciplinary investigation of a rock coating at Ngaut Ngaut (Devon Downs), South Australia. Australian Archaeology, 80(June) pp. 32-39.
    [Scopus] [Web Link] [Web Link]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Lenehan, C.E., Lombi, E., Donner, E., Howard, D.L., de Jonge, M.D., et al. (2015). Microelemental characterisation of Aboriginal Australian natural Fe oxide pigments. Analytical Methods, 7 pp. 7363-7380.
    [10.1039/c5ay01547b] [Scopus]
  • Donner, E., Scheckel, K., Sekine, R., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Bennett, J.W., Brunetti, G., et al. (2015). Non-labile silver species in biosolids remain stable throughout 50 years of weathering and ageing. Environmental Pollution, 205 pp. 78-86.
    [10.1016/j.envpol.2015.05.017] [Scopus]
  • Seyfang, K.E., Redman, K.E., Popelka-Filcoff, R.S. and Kirkbride, K.P. (2015). Glass fragments from portable electronic devices: Implications for forensic examinations. Forensic Science International, 257 pp. 442-452.
    [10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.10.023] [Scopus]
  • Yu, Y., Shapter, J., Popelka-Filcoff, R., Bennett, J. and Ellis, A. (2014). Copper removal using bio-inspired polydopamine coated natural zeolites. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 273 pp. 174-182.
    [10.1016/j.jhazmat.2014.03.048] [Scopus]
  • Colyer, K., Quinton, J., Pring, A., Popelka-Filcoff, R. and Lenehan, C. (2014). Determining the origins of particulates on Arkaroo Rock art. Open Journal of Archaeometry, 2(1) pp. 65-68.
    [10.4081/arc.2014.5301]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R., Mauger, A., Lenehan, C., Walshe, K. and Pring, A. (2014). HyLogger™ near-infrared spectral analysis: a non-destructive mineral analysis of Aboriginal Australian objects. Analytical Methods, 6(5) pp. 1309-1316.
    [10.1039/C3AY41436A] [10.1039/c3ay41436a] [Scopus]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R.S., Craig, N., Glascock, M.D., Robertson, J.D., Aldenderfer, M. and Speakman, R.J. (2007). Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis of Ochre Artifacts from Jiskairumoko, Peru. In Michael D. Glascock, Robert J. Speakman, Rachel S. Popelka-Filcoff, ed. Archaeological Chemistry. USA: Americal Chemical Society (ACS) Publications, pp. 480-505.
    [10.1021/bk-2007-0968.ch026]
  • Popelka-Filcoff, R., Glascock, M., Robertshaw, P. and Wood, M. (2005). Laser Ablation ICP-MS of African Glass Trade Beads. In Robert Speakman, Hector Neff, ed. Laser Ablation-ICP-MS in Archaeological Research. Albuquerque, USA: University of New Mexico Press, pp. 85-94.

Professional and community engagement

Member:

  • Australian Academy of Science Early and Mid Career Researcher Forum 2014
  • Royal Australian Chemical Institute (MRACI CChem)
  • Science and Technology Australia
  • American Chemical Society
  • Society for American Archaeology
  • Sigma Xi
  • WISENET

I am also participating in the CSIRO "Scientists in Schools" Program with Rose Park Elementary School.

Expertise for media contact

Subject Titles

  • Archaeology
  • Chemistry
  • Education - Science
  • History - Australian
  • X-rays

Interests

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Archaeological Chemistry
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeometry
  • Elemental Analysis
  • Neutron Activation Analysis
  • Spectrometry
  • X-ray Spectrometry

Contact

Add to address book
Phone: +61 8 82015526
Email:
Location: Physical Sciences Building (312)
Postal address: GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Further information

For more information, see rs.popelka.filcoff.com

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