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About the QPG

The Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group is a component of Cambridge Quaternary (CQ: formerly the Godwin Institute for Quaternary Research or GIQR) and a research group within the Department of Geography , University of Cambridge. The broad aim of our research is to develop evolutionary palaeogeography and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions for regions and areas during the last 2-3 million years. This multi- disciplinary research uses a wide range of litho-, bio- and chronostratigraphical methods, and is currently supported by NERC, the Academy of Finland, the British Council, EC and the Museum of London (English Nature), among others.

The QPG was founded in 1995 when members of the Subdepartment of Quaternary Research joined the Department of Geography.  After initially being housed in the main Geography Department building, in 1999 the QPG moved to larger adjacent premises.  This includes laboratory, teaching and office space, including the R.G.West Laboratory , housed in the Sir William Hardy Building.

Cambridge Quaternary (formerly the Godwin Institute of Quaternary Research)

The CQ grew out of the Cambridge Subdepartment of Quaternary Research , founded in 1948 to establish "a valid scheme of world events throughout and since the Ice Age in which the results of botanical, zoological, geological, archaeological, climatological, geographical and other investigations have been correlated and to provide this scheme with a timescale of years or periods of years." Under the leadership of its first Director, Sir Harry Godwin , the Subdepartment went on to become both nationally and internationally famous.

A Review Committee appointed by the University General Board in 1992, whilst highly praising the Subdepartment, judged that Quaternary Research at Cambridge required a broader base than that provided by the Department of Plant Sciences. As a result, the Godwin Institute of Quaternary Research (GIQR) was formed in 1995, and renamed Cambridge Quaternary in 2005.

The CQ is a semi-informal research group of approximately 55 people. Its constituent research groups are based in the Departments of Geography, Earth Sciences, Archaeology and Zoology. Links also exist with the Department of Physics and the Scott Polar Research Institute. There is an excellent research environment at all levels, fostered by the staff (10 members), post-doctoral workers, and both Ph.D. and M.Phil. students pursuing interdisciplinary research in a wide range of Quaternary fields. This environment is unique in Britain, offering opportunities for research student training unequalled elsewhere, in terms of the range and quality of the expertise available.

CQ research

The CQ embraces a wide-ranging approach to Quaternary Research. General research themes are based around 'core' areas of staff interest. These include palaeooceanography, archaeology, geochronology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, palaeobotany, dendrochronology, micropalaeontology and palaeoecology. These mainstream interests are supplemented by the interaction of staff members with those from other University and external institutions to provide a diverse spectrum of topics. The understanding of palaeoenvironmental evolution is the central element underpinning all these themes; a foundation that provides a base from which to understand both present and future environmental and climatic change.

Links to the various CQ research groups