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.