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Campus News : July 2011
www.uow.edu.au University of Wollongong Campus News July 2011 5 FOCUS ON RESEARCH CAS illuminates human evolution The University of Wollongong's new Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS) had three reasons to celebrate recently -- a new website, a new laboratory and a profile of two of its key researchers in the prestigious international publication Science. The new website explores a range of topics from turning points in human evolution to determining new chronologies for the human habitation in Australia. The new state-of-the-art microscope laboratory is dedicated to the study of residues and use-wear marks on ancient stone, bones and shell tools to determine their function. Science's May 6 edition profiled two key members of the CAS team. The feature covered the past and present research undertaken by the newly married couple, ARC Professorial Fellow and CAS Director Professor Bert Roberts and Dr Zenobia Jacobs, who is an ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellow. The article examined their research into the evolution and dispersal of human species within Africa over the last 200,000 years, and the spread of humans across Arabia and India to Australia in the last few tens of millennia. It highlighted the leading role that Professor Roberts and Dr Jacobs have played in the development and application of archaeological dating techniques to construct a timeline for the prehistory of our species and, as part of Dr Jacobs' current ARC Fellowship, Neanderthals in France. CAS was established at UOW in 2010 to develop, integrate and apply modern scientific techniques to answer fundamental questions about human evolution and past human activities. Its members have attracted more than $5 million of competitive grant funding over the last three years and generated landmark publications in top-ranked journals. As a result, CAS received national recognition in the recent Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative, ranking (equal) second highest in the country in the field of Archaeology. Recent exciting discoveries and key projects led by CAS members include the emergence of modern human behaviour in Africa, the dispersal of our species across South Asia, the human colonisation of Australia and resulting impact on the native fauna, and the evolution and extinction of the one-metre tall 'Hobbits' discovered on the island of Flores in eastern Indonesia. CAS is affiliated with the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences and brings scientists together with science- based archaeologists. It boasts world-class laboratory facilities for archaeological dating, archaeological chemistry, artefact and residue analysis, archaeobotany, zooarchaeology and palaeontology. The new CAS website can be found at http://cas.uow.edu.au/index.html NH Above: Professor Richard Roberts and Dr Zenobia Jacobs in the Centre for Archaeological Science laboratory. Below: A graphic depicting the sites around the world where Professor Roberts and Dr Jacobs have used their optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating techniques that was published with a feature story about their work in the May 6, 2011 edition of Science (Volume 332). It is reproduced with permission from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The University of Wollongong is one of the the best performing Australian universities in the international QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) rankings for Science and Engineering. QS in May released its Top 200 QS World University Rankings in six categories -- Environmental Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Metallurgy and Materials, Mathematics, Earth and Marine Sciences and Chemistry. The rankings are based on academic reputation, employer reputation and research citations per paper. UOW achieved Band 2 (51-100th ranking) in Metallurgy and Materials, and Band 4 (151-200th) in Chemistry. The Science rankings following the University's strong showing in the Engineering rankings released earlier in the year with one discipline in Band 2, two in Band 3 and one in Band 4. UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerard Sutton said being ranked in the Top 100 in the world for Metallurgy and Materials and Chemical Engineering was an outstanding achievement, which demonstrated UOW's expertise in both areas. He was also pleased with the strong rankings in other fields of engineering and science. "This is a strong result for Wollongong because it affirms the quality of the research that we are doing in a number of key areas." Professor Sutton said. "A university of our size can't hope to compete with much larger institutions in every discipline of the sciences, but these rankings demonstrate the quality of our research in the areas we specialise in. "This is a very satisfying result, and a fitting recognition for our talented research teams," Professor Sutton said. NH World rankings for Engineering, Science UOW's QS World University Rankings for 2011 so far: 51-100 Metallurgy and Materials 51-100 Chemical Engineering 101-150 Electrical and Electronic Engineering 101-150 Civil & Structural Engineering 151-200 Chemistry 151-200 Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing