Public Lecture: Scientific Drilling for Human Origins in Africa
Professor Andy Cohen
16 June 2016
A public lecture to be held at Aberystwyth University will provide insights into the work of an international research team using sediments from ancient lake beds in East Africa to understand how climate and environmental change may have helped shape the course of human evolution.
The lecture entitled, ‘Scientific Drilling for Human Origins in Africa’ will be given by Professor Andy Cohen, a Distinguished Professor of Geosciences and Joint Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. The lecture will be followed by a short 3D film ‘The Human Climate’.
This event is free to attend open to all, with no pre-booking required and will be held in the Cinema at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Monday 20 June at 5.30pm.
Professor Cohen leads a team of international experts, including colleagues from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences from Aberystwyth University on the ‘Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project’, a multi-national research consortium working on long sediment cores from lake beds in East Africa, aiming to discover how climate change influenced human origins and evolution.
The public lecture coincides with a two day research workshop hosted by the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University bringing together experts involved in the project, from Germany, the US and Ethiopia.
Professor Henry Lamb, from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University and one of the Principal Investigators of the ‘Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project’ said: “Andy Cohen’s lecture will be a great opportunity for us to hear about his long experience of research on climate change and human origins in Africa, and to showcase Aberystwyth’s involvement in this exciting research.”
Professor Cohen's research specialty is paleolimnology, the study of sediments and fossils from the bottoms of lakes to understand climate, environmental and ecological history of lakes and their surrounding watersheds; he is the author of a leading textbook in this field. For nearly 40 years he has used the methods of paleolimnology to study lakes in East Africa, North and South America. For the past 25 years he has used the techniques of scientific drilling to collect long cores from lakes and lake deposits extending back millions of years.
In this lecture Professor Cohen will discuss how anthropologists and geologists have come together in a large international team to use the power of paleolimnological research to understand the history of environment and climate interpreted from drill cores in ancient lake beds in East Africa.
The team's objective is to better understand how climate and environmental change may have helped shape the course of human evolution. Professor Cohen will share the excitement and challenges of conducting a complex research project in remote regions of Kenya and Ethiopia, close to where some of the most important evidence for our early ancestors has been found.
The lecture will be followed by a short 3D film documenting the project work and science objectives.