ERC Starting Grant awarded for project 'Waves of history in the South Pacific'

Adam Powell's project will build the tools necessary to establish gene-culture coevolution in the genomic-era.

October 05, 2017

In its 2017 selection, the European Research Council (ERC) has selected Adam Powell from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History as one of the successful recipients for its highly competitive Starting Grant. This grant will allow Powell to fund a research group to focus on his project titled ‘Waves of history in the South Pacific: A gene-culture coevolutionary approach.’

The Waves Project will build the tools necessary to establish gene-culture coevolution in the genomic-era and will allow the natural integration of data from across genomics, archaeogenetics, archaeology and historical linguistics.

The project will focus on the South Pacific, a region whose past demography remains largely unresolved. While the population history of this region is relatively short it appears extremely complex, comprising not only multiple waves of colonization but also the existence of wide and ongoing  interaction spheres through which both seafaring peoples and their cultures maintained long-distance connections. By generating comprehensive new ancient and present-day genome-wide datasets across Near and Remote Oceania – and analyzing them alongside historical linguistic and cultural data – the Waves Project will create the first unified gene-culture coevolutionary history of the South Pacific.

The ERC's mission is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-driven frontier research across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence. The ERC Starting Grant is one of the most competitive EU grants (only 13% of applications were funded in 2017). The grant is awarded to researchers within 7 years of receiving their PhD to fund excellent and ground-breaking ideas. The awardees receive funding of up to 1.5 million Euros per grant to establish their own research group and realize their project over the course of up to five years.

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