The cluster has a vibrant palaeoecology research group studying past environment and climate change, using a variety of records from around the world. The Palaeoecology Centre was awarded the UK Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2000, and in 2003 the group was awarded £6.2m to set up the Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology (14CHRONO) funding the establishment of an AMS radiocarbon-dating laboratory (only the third such facility in the UK and the first in Ireland) and new research on radiocarbon, dendrochronology, tephrochronology, statistical methods of chronology construction, stable isotope analysis and palaeoecological and environmental change.
At Queen's, palaeoecology complements archaeology by reconstructing the past Quaternary environments in which humans and their societies evolved, and by assessing the impact of human activities on the natural environment. In this latter area, we work closely with the Past Cultural Change cluster, (see Archaeology: Past Cultural Change). The cluster also includes one of the main UK centres for researching stone decay in natural and built environments, using purpose-built laboratories for experimental weathering studies, environmental simulation and the analysis and digital documentation of geomaterials.
This work is carried out in collaboration with industry and, in particular, those with a duty of care for natural and built heritage. We have received substantial Research Council and EU support including funding for knowledge transfer, for which we received a UK Knowledge Transfer Award, and the commercialisation of survey and monitoring technologies. This is a core element in the School's Heritage Science Masters programme and with staff actively engaged in heritage conservation with a variety of institutional and commercial partners. International level collaboration with institutions in Africa, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, East, South and South East Asia, New Zealand, South America, the Middle East and the USA.