Space archaeologist to speak on campus

Elisabeth Moore

Space Archaeologist Sarah Parcak will be speaking at WKU.

Around the world, there are many different ancient sites that have yet to be discovered and explored. To get ahead of the many looters who have already discovered these sites, Sarah Parcak is helping create a tool called GlobalXplorer, a satellite image tool that will allow archaeologists and other volunteers to discover these ancient sites before more looters do.

Parcak is a space archaeologist who has recently won the 2016 TED Prize for a TED Talk about hunting for Peru’s lost civilizations through the GlobalXplorer. With the use of satellites, Parcak is able to find and locate areas around the world in a very detailed way.

As part of the Cultural Enhancement Series at WKU, Parcak will be discussing her findings as a space archaeologist on Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Van Meter Hall. Described as a modern-day Indiana Jones, Parcak will be diving into the unique and interesting sites that she has already discovered with the GlobalXplorer.

“She will be talking and using visual to discuss her research in the area of space archaeology,” Larry Snyder Jr., Dean of the Potter College of Arts and Letters and chair member of the Cultural Enhancement Series, said. “Who wouldn’t want to have a space archaeologist? She uses satellite imagery to identify and locate lost cities and civilizations on Earth. It is just a fascinating use of technology.”

Parcak is currently an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is also president of the GlobalXplorer and director of the Laboratory for Global Observation at UAB, which allows her and her colleagues to continue discovering more locations through GlobalXplorer.

Parcak was chosen to visit WKU by the Cultural Enhancement Series committee,  a combination of students, staff and other community members around WKU. Through a variety of nominations and suggestions of people who should visit campus, Parcak was one who became sought after.

“The goal of the CES is to provide both the campus and greater Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky community with several opportunities each year to meet and experience a wide range of artists, writers, social and popular cultural commentators,” Brent Bjorkman, director of the Kentucky Folklife Program and committee member for the Cultural Enhancement Series said. “The hope is to entertain and educate our audience with new, creative expressions that challenge one’s intellect and present new ways of looking at our world.”

The Cultural Enhancement Series has two more shows that will be presented this semester: Black Violin on Feb. 21 and David Sedaris on April 22. Both shows will be presented in Van Meter Hall starting at 7:30 p.m.

Black Violin is a duo of two African American violinists who range from classical to jazz to hip-hop using their violins. David Sedaris, who will be the last show of this semester, is a writer and National Public Radio Humorist who will be speaking about his writing and how it addresses the human condition of today’s society.

“We are already making plans for next year’s set of events,” Snyder said. “We don’t have the series set yet, but we will be announcing that probably at our last event in April and we will let folks know what will be coming next year. It is already shaping up to be a good year.”

As described by Snyder as a mixture of Indiana Jones and Star Trek, Parcak will be discussing the various aspects of her work as a space archaeologist. She will be at Van Meter Hall on Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. followed by a question and answer session  with the audience.

“Sarah Parcak’s visit will certainly be one not to be missed,” Bjorkman said. “Her work using global satellite imaging to discover and analyze archaeological sites never-before seen, I feel,  touches the ‘explorer’ side in all of us.”

Reporter Elisabeth Moore can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @emoore938.