An interdisciplinary team of researchers will look to identify ways of tackling the climate crisis at an international conference hosted at the University of Leicester this March.
Engineering the past to build a resilient future will unite researchers – both at Leicester and beyond – in the core areas of Engineering and Archaeology to better understand how past human activity has impacted the environment, and to develop improved strategies to face current and future climate challenges.
The conference will feature internationally-renowned researchers who have worked at the interface of both fields.
Dr Himanshu Kaul, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at the University of Leicester, said: “We aim to establish a network of researchers interested in uniting Archaeology, and Engineering, plus Life and Physical Sciences principles to understand how past human activity impacted the environment and identify trends to develop improved conservation strategies, with Leicester research at the centre.
“The climate crisis is undoubtedly the greatest challenge of our time and solving it requires multidisciplinary cooperation and solutions.
“Attendees will get a sense of the state of the art and a chance to speak and interact with some of the key players in this area. They will also get a chance to shape the next steps in this network development, identify new collaborations, and hear about the latest new developments.”
Archaeology at a local, national and international scale can help researchers understand the human impact on our environment. By understanding the processes of the past, interdisciplinary researchers will be better informed to reverse-engineer proposals for mitigating similar negative effects in the future.
These include, for example, using advanced imaging techniques to gain greater insight from archaeological samples, which hold key indicators to the history of Earth’s climate such as levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
Dr Sarah Inskip is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the University of Leicester whose research in bioarchaeology seeks to better understand the lives of individuals and communities in the past. She added: “The analysis of past people and populations provides us with a direct insight in to how our ancestors dealt with and adapted to changing environments and climates throughout time, and the impacts these solutions had on health. This knowledge can provide us with highly innovative solutions to a wide variety of problems, many of which are likely to be beneficial and sustainable. Through the conference and network, we hope to be able to establish ways in which we can bring together engineering principles and bioarchaeological approaches to assess and track these health outcomes”.
The international symposium will be followed by a series of discussion groups that will also examine best practice in utilising cutting-edge analytic and modelling tools in contributing to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)’s strategic priority of environmental solutions.
Other confirmed speakers include:
-Opening keynote from Ian Haynes, Professor of Archaeology at Newcastle University
-Archaeobotanist Dr Dolores Paperno, of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, USA
-Dr Iza Romanowska of the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark
-Dr Iris Kramer, founder and CEO of ArchAI and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow
-Dr Patrick Roberts, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute, Germany
For the full programme, visit le.ac.uk/engineering-the-past.
‘Engineering the past to build a resilient future’ will take place on Friday 25 March 2022, both in-person at the University and online. The symposium is funded by the University of Leicester’s NERC Discipline Hopping for Environmental Solutions award.
Attendees are welcome from both undergraduate and postgraduate students, and from across the research community.