ECDI Update: January 2022 activities

This is a monthly update about the Evolution of Cultural Diversity Initiative (ECDI) activities and upcoming events.


  • Congratulations to Kim Sterelny on his appointment as a 2022 Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society,
  • Welcome to the ECDI team Ross Pain who is our latest affiliate member.
  • Congratulations to our ECDI researchers who have been successful in ARC grants:
    • Nick Evans is involved in the LIEF grant led by Nick Thieberger, UM – Modularised cultural heritage archives (LE220100010) – future-proofing PARADISEC. This project will build an innovative modularised infrastructure to implement standards of data governance for cultural heritage records. This new infrastructure aims to build on the award-winning Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures collection and to capitalise on new technologies for metadata harvesting, temporal mapping, crowdsourced metadata, and automated transcription. The project expects to promote national and international research collaboration with Australian archiving communities and to build capacity in Pacific cultural institutions. The project will benefit research data communities across the sector as well as community custodians of cultural heritage collections – $620,000
    • Simon Haberle is involved in the DP grant led by Larissa Schneider, ANU – Long range toxic metal pollution in Australia and the Southern Ocean (DP220100828) – This project aims to investigate how environmental change and human activities since industrialisation have impacted toxic metal transport and deposition on the south coast of Australia, Tasmania and Southern Ocean islands. This project expects to fill gaps in understanding of the global mercury cycle using a state-of-the-art multidisciplinary methodology including the role of sea salt aerosols and hemispheric-scale wind patterns . Anticipated outcomes involve a novel palaeo-atmospheric model that can be applied in other parts of the world. This should provide significant benefits, such as science-based evidence to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury and guide new regulations to reduce environmental/health risks from metal pollution – $409,193



  • ​Last week was the last week for our summer scholar students Jeremiah and Jay who have been working on a project on the Massim region of Papua New Guinea with Bethwyn Evans and Ben Shaw, where they gave their final.
  • We have the first ECDI-affiliated fieldschool kicking off in a couple of weeks (6-20 Feb) on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria in collaboration with Heritage Insight, Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Parks Victoria, Heritage Victoria, and Mornington Shire Council. Despite a surge in COVID cases in Melbourne the numbers are far fewer in our field area, and we have planned for this – implementing a strict COVID plan to keep all involved safe having secured enough rapid antigen tests. We have 15 ANU students (Masters and undergrad) enrolled, and two traditional owners from Bunurong who have received ANU/ECDI scholarships for their enrolment on the fieldschool so they get tertiary accreditation for their involvement. The fieldschool will be lead by ECDI’s Ben Shaw and Catherine Frieman.
  • Monthly SYNAPSE seminars will start again in 2022, and details will be available here from January:
  • View previous SYNAPSE seminars on YouTube here:
  • The ECDI reading group meets in person on Friday mornings and will start again in 2022 once ANU campus is fully open. Contact Beth if you’d like to be on the mailing list.


Workshops & Conferences

Indigenous Research Discovery Workshop – State Library of Queensland 
22 – 25 February 2022 
The Indigenous Research Discovery Workshop (Tuesday 22 February – Friday 25 February 2022) is a five-day workshop experience giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants an opportunity to research and discover collections that support their language journey, and possibly with other members of their language group. The workshop is aimed at language workers and community members who are currently working/have an interest in traditional languages and are supporting language revival programs in communities. State Library staff provide personalised assistance and guidance over the course of the workshop. Contact Olivia Robinson for more information. 

Deep Histories of Oceania
joint ANU-French workshop series, 2020-2021, funded by an Australian-French Association for Research and Innovation (AFRAN) Initiative Grant.

A session at ESfO will be held in June 2022 on reconstructing depopulation in the Pacific:
The Oceanic Exchange: disease, depopulation and disruption in the post-contact Pacific
Christophe Sand,, Archaeologist for the New Caledonia Government, Research associate at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD-Noumea) – UMR SENS
Chris Ballard,, Australian National University
Abstract: Of all the transformations experienced by Pacific societies since the 16th Century, the most consequential was perhaps the encounter with successive movements into the region of new viruses and bacteria. An Oceanic Exchange, paralleling the better-known Columbian Exchange, saw the transfer of commodities, bodies and knowledge out of the region, and the introduction of new crops, technologies, languages and diseases in exchange. Measles, smallpox, influenza, dysentery and tuberculosis were just a few of the epidemic diseases which ravaged Pacific populations, particularly during the hundred years from the 1820s to the 1920s, but earlier in some areas and later in others. For some communities, population losses were in excess of 90% of the pre-contact population, and many have yet to recover to those earlier levels. Religious conversion, political destabilisation, formal colonisation and land grabbing were just some of the consequences facilitated by this collapse in population and ensuing social disruption. This panel will invite specialists from multiple disciplines – including anthropology, archaeology, history, geography and demography – to reflect on recent changes in thinking about the scale and impact of depopulation in the Pacific, including a critical review of earlier tendencies to downplay reports of population loss.



Research Officer, Australian National University
Deadline: 2 February 2022
Looking for a programmer to code new methods for evolutionary analysis of DNA to work in the Macroevolution & Macroecology Group (which spans biology & maths) at ANU. More details.

Biochemistry/Proteomics Technician, MPI For Science of Human History, Jena
Deadline: 1 March 2022
The Department of Archaeology at the MPI Jena is seeking a Biochemistry/Proteomics Technician for its science laboratories to begin 1st of March 2022 or sooner. More details.

Hank Nelson Memorial Endowment 
Deadline: 30 April 2022 
The Hank Nelson Memorial Endowment was established by family and friends of the historian Hank Nelson to honour his memory and his commitment to Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Endowment now offers the third Hank Nelson Prize, of AUD$1000, for the best PhD thesis submitted by any student, internationally, on any aspect of PNG’s history or society. Find more information here and make a submission here.  




Field, J., Shaw, B., & Summerhayes, G. 2022. Pathways to the Interior: Human settlement in the Simbai-Kaironk Valleys of the Madang Province, PNG. Australian Archaeology 88(1): 2-17.

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