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Portland’s Matthew Bampton Receives Fulbright to Conduct Research on the Shetland Islands

Professor Matthew Bampton

Portland resident Matthew Bampton, professor of geography-anthropology at the University of Southern Maine, has been named a Fulbright Scholar, allowing him to continue his research into what caused the destruction of a village in the Shetland Islands during the 17th century. He will be based at The University of Edinburgh, beginning in August.

The village of Broo was destroyed by a series of storms during the period known as the Little Ice Age. Bampton believes understanding past climatic events can help our understanding of current climate change and our reactions to it.

The U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission will allow Bampton to expand upon his research of the past four years, during which time he has developed high resolution, 3-dimensional maps of the region from the time of the storm and the following years. While at The University of Edinburgh, he will build on his findings and correlate the maps with historical records in an effort to develop a model of the process that destroyed the town of Broo.

A group of archaeologists, geologists and biologists, led by Professor Gerald Bigelow of Bates College, visited the island in 2011 and 2012 where they excavated the area to locate buried structures and track the history of the village of Broo. Bigelow continues to work on the project and Bampton’s Fulbright will allow him to visit the area again to develop more maps.

“The opportunity the Fulbright Commission offers is extraordinary,” said Bampton. “I am thrilled to have a chance to work in Edinburgh and visit Shetland to build on our findings. I am looking forward to working with academics at the University who have already been incredibly forthcoming and engaged with the project.”

Bampton, who received his Ph.D. from Clark University, has been at USM since 1992, where he teaches physical geography, geography of Maine, GIS courses and a Summer Field School.

The US-UK Fulbright Commission is part of the worldwide Fulbright Program, established by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright after World War II to foster mutual cultural understanding through education exchange between the United Kingdom and the United States. It is based in London, UK.