The Anthropological, Ecological, and Geological Interdisciplinary Sciences group (AEGIS) brings together researchers from a wide variety of disciplines who share the goal of applying cutting-edge scientific techniques to the study of the human past, including archaeology, biological anthropology, and paleoenvironmental studies. The AEGIS group is committed to fostering graduate training and research collaboration between members from across disciplines but also between U of M researchers and private sector specialists, such as professionals in the cultural resource management or remote sensing industries. The scientific techniques engaged by AEGIS members include (but are not limited to) the following: (1) absolute and relative dating methods, (2) material culture analyses (lithic, ceramic, faunal, & metallurgical), (3) remote sensing (satellite imagery, LiDAR, GIS) and geophysical surveying applications (magnetometry, ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity), (4) conservation sciences, (5) landscape analysis, (6) the reconstruction of continental paleorecords of regional and global environmental change through lake and continental coring, (7) computational methods applied to the analysis of object shapes (for artifacts, fossils, and microbotanical remains), (8) quantitative analysis of primate behavior through observational data and agent-based modeling, and (9) microarchaeology, the study of the microscopic component of the archaeological record through the application of analytical techniques derived from the Earth Sciences, including sediment mineralogy and microbotanical studies.
The fundamental goal of the AEGIS Group is to inform major anthropological debates related to Earth’s climatic & environmental history by improving the quality and reliability of scientific information related to such research. In this way, researchers can advance first-order capabilities to locate and map cultural and geological sites, establish site chronologies, delineate site formation processes, evaluate site integrity, and more accurately interpret the primate behaviors and activities that occurred at sites. By extension, such progress allows researchers to address globally relevant topics such as the impact of climate change on human and non-human primate societies, long-term changes in human diet and health, the emergence and development of technological complexity as part of the human adaptation, how humans have successfully and unsuccessfully exploited natural resources and landscapes for sustainability, spatial processes in human mobility strategies and settlement diversification, the impact of humans on their natural environments, and the evolution of major food crops and domestic animals. The members of the group hail from a variety of departments representing the Colleges of Science and Engineering (CSE), Liberal Arts (CLA), and Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).
The activities we have planned for 2015-16 are based upon the following goals:
1) To increase the visibility of AEGIS and to grow its membership through high-profile lectures by speakers who will attract a wide audience from fields related to anthropological, environmental, and earth sciences research.
2) To provide training opportunities for graduate students in new, high-demand skills through short courses taught by other graduate students. This has the double benefit of providing important teaching and curriculum development experience for the students teaching the courses.
3) To provide funding enabling graduate students to engage more formally in community outreach by developing teaching modules for K-12 teachers.
4) To provide funding for graduate students enabling them to attend conferences that either a) are interdisciplinary in nature, or b) to present work they have carried out which is interdisciplinary.