New webinar series will feature radiocarbon dating topics, applications

Brendan Culleton working on the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer in the Radiocarbon Laboratory. Credit: Kevin Sliman / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Energy and Environmental Sustainability Laboratories (EESL) has announced a new webinar series that will feature its Radiocarbon Laboratory and experts in radiocarbon dating. The series, titled "Radiocarbon Universe," will occur every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon, starting April 21. Each webinar is scheduled for 45 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes for questions and discussion. 

The first webinar, "Fundamentals of Radiocarbon," will be presented by Brendan Culleton, a scientist in Penn State’s Radiocarbon Lab. It is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 21.

The webinars are free and open to the public. Attendees must register in order to receive the webinar’s URL. All webinars will be recorded and available for future viewing.

“The 'Radiocarbon Universe' webinar series will offer researchers and the scientific community learning and educational opportunities that align with EESL’s mission,” said Odette Mina, managing director, “which is to advance interdisciplinary scholarship by providing researchers access to cutting-edge instrumentation and subject matter expertise that fuels innovation in energy and environmental sciences.”

The purpose of the webinar series is to share the diverse topics and applications related to radiocarbon dating. It will involve researchers at Penn State, and will be hosted by Culleton. Additionally, radiocarbon experts from other institutions who have expertise in specific applications are planned to make presentations in the series.

“This webinar series will cover the fundamentals of radiocarbon research — sample preparation, measurement and interpretation — and expand into case studies in diverse fields, ranging from the historical sciences to forensics, astrophysics, ancient DNA and more,” said Culleton. “The series is designed to lay the conceptual foundations for a lay audience to understand the research and deliver engaging talks to inspire and entertain.”

Accelerator mass spectrometer radiocarbon measurements provide direct chronological data critical to developing absolute timelines for the historical sciences, including archaeology, art history, paleontology, geomorphology and paleoecology.

“By building and integrating parallel records of social, environmental and ecological change over the last 50,000 years, we discern causal relationships and dynamic feedbacks in human-environment interactions that inform our present and future,” Culleton said.

The Radiocarbon Laboratory is a part of the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Laboratories, which are shared multi-user instrumentation facilities at Penn State that tie together world-class instrumentation and expertise in a broad array of analytical techniques covering materials in all phases.

EESL is a part of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, a Penn State research unit that works to build teams of experts from different disciplines to see how new ways of thinking can solve some of the world’s most difficult energy and environmental challenges.

Last Updated April 13, 2020