skip to primary navigation skip to content

People in the Department: Visiting Scholars

People in the Department: Visiting Scholars

The aim of a Visiting Scholar is to discuss and share ideas with another academic in our Department who works within the same, or closely related, field of interest. From this mutual collaboration may come ideas, joint publications and grant applications for future joint research projects. For stays of six months or more, we expect a short report (500 words), to be submitted by the host to the Director of Research within three months of the end of the visit, detailing the activities undertaken in Cambridge.

Our Visiting Scholars have a PhD degree, are carrying out research and looking to collaborate with academics in the Department of Geography at Cambridge while they are taking a sabbatical from their home institution. While a Visiting Scholar will have a prime point of contact - their 'host' - we hope that they will engage more widely with our research activities, through attending meetings of our Thematic Research Groups and through discussions with individual researchers in the Department. And we encourage links with researchers in other Faculties and Departments in Cambridge over the course of their stay.

The Department of Geography accepts Visiting Scholars from a wide range of backgrounds and research fields. They can be either supported by their institutions or self-funded.

Current Visiting Scholars in the Department:

Dr Nicholas Blegen, collaborating with Prof Christine Lane

Research: My research as part of the "Ashes of Our Ancestors" project, in collaboration with Prof. Christine Lane, focuses on modern human evolution through the studies of volcanic glass (obsidian) and volcanic ash layers (tephra) from the last 500,000 years in East Africa. My geochemical sourcing of obsidian artefacts shows that our human ancestors from at least 400,000 years ago regularly transported obsidian distances between 50 and 250 km. To establish a chronology of geographic matching scale, I use chemical analysis of volcanic ashes dispersed across East Africa. This work has documented many widespread ash layers, some found across an area of over hundreds of thousands of square kilometres and correlating across several East African rift basins. These tephras thus provide the chronological and stratigraphic context with which to characterise past landscape environments relating to human behaviour across large geographic areas commensurate with the scope of human interactions documented by raw material sourcing.


In order to be an academic visitor in the Department you need to be invited by a member of the Department academic staff.

We cannot provide Visiting Scholars with any help finding accommodation, setting up childcare facilities, or other personal welfare. Please note that the University of Cambridge does not provide childcare support to visitors. The University Accommodation service may be able to help with accommodation.

Latest news for Visiting Scholars