Eudald Carbonell leaves the board of the IPHES and returns to teaching at the URV

The Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution is conducting an international search for a new director after Eudald Carbonell announced that he was standing down in order to spend more time carrying out research in Africa. He will also return to teaching as a professor at the URV and will continue to play a key role in the Atapuerca Foundation.

Eudald Carbonell announced his decision to stand down to the board of the IPHES Fondation during a meeting held on 21 May. The board comprises members of the Catalan Government, the Universitat Rovira i Virgili and Tarragona City Council.

Representatives of all three institutions appeared alongside Eudald Carbonell on 9 June in a press conference at the head office of the IPHES on the URV's Sescelades Campus. Taking part in the press conference were Lluís Rovira, director of the CERCA Institution; Josep Manel Ricart, vice-rector for Scientific and Research Policy of the URV, and Francisco Zapater, councillor for Public Relations and Universities of Tarragona City Council.

During his speech, Eudald Carbonell stated: "As I said when the IPHES was created, I would hold the position of director for 10 years to oversee the consolidation of the project, an objective which has been achieved with considerable success". He added, "This period has now passed and the time has come to hand on the baton to the next generation".

At the request of the board of the IPHES, the CERCA Institution (Catalan Research Centres Institution) began the official process of finding a new director to replace Eudald Carbonell, who has led the IPHES since it was created in December 2004. The successful candidate will be chosen by the external scientific committee of the IPHES and could be appointed by October.

Eudald Carbonell drew attention to the fact that in only one decade "the IPHES has become fully established and recognised internationally for the quality of its research, and has a significant index of scientific research impact and considerable public visibility". Given this situation, "now is the time" he said, "to make way for younger people with fresh ideas to take the institution forward in a new direction".

Eudald Carbonell had words of thanks for the board members of the IPHES, "without whom this project would not have been possible" and also highlighted the role played by the former president of the Catalan Government, Jordi Pujol, at whose home the idea emerged during a meal to which Carbonell was invited, and the role of Councillor Andreu Mas-Colell, who brought the idea to fruition.

Eudald Carbonell also praised the Catalan Government's SUMA project (aimed at research centre integration) "for giving critical mass to scientific research". The SUMA project involves the ICAC (Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology), the ICRPC (Catalan Institute for Research into Cultural Heritage) and the IPHES. He also spoke highly of his colleagues, whom he praised for being the real drivers of the institute and for their "unwavering loyalty to the project".

In reference to the media, he emphasised their invaluable support for scientific projects and the fact that without this the activities of the IPHES would not have had the same level of social impact. And with regard to his home university, the URV, he stated that despite the general complaints voiced about the university system, the institution "had facilitated the learning of many young people and increased awareness among the general public".

Eritrea and master's theses

Eudald Carbonell is now embarking on a new stage devoted above all to research and promoting the IPHES's research projects in Africa, such as the one at the Engel-ela site (Buia, Eritrea), which is working on in conjunction with Bienvenido Martínez-Navarro, researcher at both the ICREA and the IPHES.

He will also return to teaching at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, where he has been full university professor of Prehistory since 1999. He will teach General Prehistory and will lead the University's Erasmus Mundus Master's Degree in Quaternary Archaeology and Human Evolution.

Finally, he will remain general director of the Atapuerca Foundation and will co-direct the research project into the Atapuerca excavations.

A prodigious decade

For his part, Francisco Zapater used the term "prodigious" to describe the first ten years of the IPHES under the guidance of Eudald Carbonell. He said that the "institute has been one of the best things about the four years that I have spent as a councillor for Tarragona City Council".