Research Team

Simon L. Lewis

Professor Simon L. Lewis is chair of global change science at UCL. In 2014, he was listed as one of the world’s most highly cited scientists in the Environment/Ecology field.  His research and writing on the concept of the Anthropocene, which denotes the period of time when human activity started to have significant  geological impact, provides the overarching frame for the exhibition. According to Lewis,”The Anthropocene probably began when species jumped continents, starting when the Old World met the New. We humans are now a geological power in our own right – as Earth-changing as a meteorite strike.”




Matterlurgy is an artistic research collaboration initiated by Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright.  Their work emphasises cross-disciplinary collaborations which are disseminated through exhibitions, performance, workshops and events. Drawing on research from across UCL, Matterlurgy worked closely with UCL Museums and Collections to develop the curatorial approach and design of the exhibition. According to the artists, “The central challenge for us was to hold onto the vibrancy of objects, whilst simultaneously showing their ethico-political milieu. We want the aesthetics of exhibition to not only work backwards through history, but also forwards, through the present and its possible futures.”



Rodney Harrison

Rodney Harrison is Professor of Heritage Studies at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. He is Principal Investigator for a large international research project called Heritage Futures, which takes a comparative approach to understanding different forms of natural and cultural heritage conservation as future-making practices. His research most heavily influenced the Afterlives-Extinctions section of the exhibition. Professor Harrison has provided a number of objects for the exhibition, including seed pouches from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault which stores seed samples from world’s crop collection for future generations.

Helen Hailes

Helen Hailes is a Professor of Chemical Biology with a focus on synthetic organic chemistry. Her research has influenced the Energies-Resources section of the exhibition.  She is currently leading an investigation of how waste biomass (such as sugar beet pulp) can be used as an alternative for fossil fuels as starting material for bulk chemicals used in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.


Jane Gilbert

Dr. Jane Gilbert is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of French.  Her areas of  interest include translation and metamorphosis, legendary histories and their relation to fiction, ways of thinking about community, and prophecy. Her research influenced the Afterlives-Extinctions section of the exhibition, particularly biblical and pictorial representations of prophecies and apocalyptic futures. 

Carandini and Saleem Laboratories

Professor Matteo Carandini and Dr. Aman Saleem work closely at UCL’s Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience to better understand the brain’s ability to map and navigate space. Their research influenced the questions that underpin the exhibition:  how does human movement affect the environment and how does technology facilitate greater human movement around the world?