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The CECD is an AHRC funded research group dedicated to examining the evolutionary underpinnings of human cultural behaviour, past and present. more>

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Research Fellows Profile
Ms Melanie Challenger
CECD Creative Fellow, c/o AHRC CECD, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

31-34 Gordon Square

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Funded by British Council Darwin Now Award - 2009
Research and Teaching interests
Melanie Challenger is a poet. She won the Eric Gregory Award for poetry in 2005. Her recently published first collection, Galatea, has been nominated for the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. Melanie is an Associate Artist at Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy, where she is undertaking comparative studies between our modern astronomical systems, observation techniques and their language, and the traces of earlier time-reckoning and astronomical techniques in smaller or endangered languages. From 2007-8, she was Artist in Residence for British Antarctic Survey for International Polar Year. She spent four months in Antarctica, sub-Antarctic islands, Falkland Islands and Chile, researching for her non-fiction work, “Extinction”, a comparative study of industrial, cultural, and ecological endangerments and extinction, with an emphasis on biocultural diversity. As well as working on cycles of extinction, Melanie will be part of the CECD's major outreach programme to convey the importance of its work to academic and non-academic audiences.

Melanie was the first poet commissioned by the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce for their Arts & Ecology Programme. (Link:

Current research areas: English language and English poetry; history of science, particularly information science; globalism; history of conflict; endangered languages; the adaptation of languages to ecological or industrial niches.

Current Positions
2009: Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, UK: Associate Artist
2007-8: British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK: Artist in Residence, Antarctic season and International Polar Year 2007-8, Arts Council International Fellowship
2006- : Harold Clurman Center for Poetry, Poetic Language, and the Spoken Word, New York, USA - Associate Director

Other publications:
(2007/7) Edited, with Zlata Filipovic: Stolen Voices: Young People’s War Diaries from 1914-2004.

Melanie Challenger is represented as an author by Jessica Woollard at The Marsh Agency
Educational Background
1996-2000 BA/MA English Literature and Language, Oxford University
Associated Links:

Associated AHRC CECD Projects (Phase 2):
Project X002

Associated Publications - AHRC CECD - phase 2:
Melanie Challenger (2011).
On Extinction: How We Became Estranged From Nature.Granta: London.