EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - March 16, 2011) - Researchers at the University of Alberta will lead an international group in the study of ancient cultures to better understand modern societal change, thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada. Today, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, announced a $2.5 million grant for a team at the University of Alberta to research cultural patterns of prehistoric societies, the results of which will contribute to our understanding of the causes of societal change.

"Our government is investing in research and innovation to create knowledge and jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians," said Minister Ambrose.

The research being conducted at the University of Alberta will help bring together an international group of researchers who will use DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating and climate modeling to examine 5,000 to 10,000-year-old human remains. Using this evidence, they will be able to reconstruct the daily lives, cultural traditions and local environment of hunter-gatherers. 

"This grant highlights the excellence of our country's talented researchers and recognizes the importance of fostering collaboration to keep Canada at the forefront of research, development and innovation in the 21st century," said Chad Gaffield, President of Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

"The multidisciplinary team led by University of Alberta anthropologist Dr Andrzej Weber seeks to expand exponentially our knowledge of cultural change amongst Neolithic and Early Bronze Age societies of Northeast Asia. Drawing on the expertise of leading international researchers, this Major Collaborative Research Initiative will extend society's limited understanding of the vitality and flexibility of early hunter-gatherer cultures – a topic that will interest anyone who has ever pondered our collective human ancestry," said Dr. Lorne Babiuk, Vice-President, Research at the University of Alberta.

Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) grants support leading-edge, multidisciplinary research projects led by scholars at Canadian institutions, with the participation of top international scholars. This collaborative approach enables research excellence, helping the best minds examine and find solutions to global issues.

SSHRC is the federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences. Through its three funding programs—Talent, Insight and Connection—SSHRC enables the highest levels of research excellence in Canada and facilitates knowledge-sharing and collaboration across research disciplines, universities and all sectors of society.

Contact Information: Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear
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