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Eurasia 98 Friday, 5 June, 1998, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Meet the team
The EurAsia 98 team wants to hear from you. Do you know any of the places they're due to visit and can offer some tips? Have you any thoughts on the project? Or do you just want to ask some plain, simple questions?

You can e-mail EurAsia 98 here and while you're thinking about what you want to say why not meet the team below.

Spencer Wells

I was born in Georgia (USA) in 1969 and grew up in Texas. I completed my PhD in evolutionary genetics at Harvard University in 1994, and moved to Stanford University that fall.

Spencer Wells, 29 teamleader (USA)
Spencer Wells, 29 (USA) - teamleader, postdoctoral fellow, Stanford University School of Medicine
Over the past three-and-a-half years I have been collaborating with a group of senior researchers at Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley on the study of genetic diversity in indigenous human populations. My interest in Central Asia developed over the course of several years' reading and travel.

While there are obvious cultural differences between East and West Asia, there are a great many similarities as well - a continuity of traditions across the continent. Historically, inventions in one area quickly dispersed to other regions. The conduit of these dispersals was the Central Asian steppe nomad.

My current research focuses on the identities of these nomads - a fluid mix of Eastern and Western influences with a unique indigenous culture.

Our work during EurAsia '98 aims to tease apart the genetic constitution of these people - Indo-Iranian, Turkic, Mongol and native Siberian groups have all probably contributed significantly. We are drawing on sources as diverse as Herodotus and biochemistry, with a dash of linguistics and a bit of archaeology. While it may at times be fiendishly complicated, the work is never boring.

Darius Bazargan

When I was offered a place as a journalist on EurAsia 98, I knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime and I jumped at the chance.

Darius Bazergan, 27 (UK) - BBC journalist
Darius Bazergan, 27 (UK) - BBC journalist
I'll be writing weekly reports for BBC New online, as well as filing despatches for BBC's World Service radio and taking footage for BBC World television. On top of all this I will be writing for the EurAsia 98 web-site (which you should all visit after this one!) and for the British national newspaper, The Guardian.

You can read Darius' latest report here

The work Spencer is hoping to undertake in Central Asia is fascinating and should help answer a lot of questions about modern man's origins.

But for me, just as important will be the culture, politics and economics of the countries we visit. The northern Caucasus, Iran and Central Asia are all societies in transition; the old order is changing - but what emerges from this evolution is anyone's guess.

It will be a privilege to watch this process at first hand.

Nat Pearson

My interest in human diversity began when I was a kid, maybe with the realisation that I live on a planet, hurtling through space and abuzz with life. Though not a novel insight, it led me to think about the way humans had dispersed with startling mobility across the Earth's vast surface.

Nathaniel Pearson, 25 (USA) - geneticist and linguist
Nathaniel Pearson, 25 (USA) - geneticist and linguist, research assistant, Stanford University School of Medicine
At college I found myself focusing on connections between disparate cultures: language; music; cuisine - and pondering how these connections had come to be. Meanwhile I grew increasingly aware of humans' interesting place within the larger biotic world, which in its evolutionary complexity most captivated my intellectual interest.

EurAsia 98 occupies a crossroads of these various personal interests, academically and, in the shape of Central Asia, physically.

An example of the kind of puzzle we hope EurAsia 98 can address is the apparent high frequency of major waves of human migration out of southern Siberia and nearby regions. These are remote inland areas, which seem to have sustained only low human population densities themselves yet their cultural influence seems to have been out of all proportion. Such intriguing historical situations abound in the region we're studying, and I'm truly excited to collect evidence useful to the diverse scholarly community interested in these questions -- and in the process to see, hear, smell, touch and taste a bit of such a fascinating patch of this planet.

Ruslan Ruzibakiev

The Institute of Immunology was founded in 1986 as a branch of Moscow's Institute of Immunology. Since 1992 our Institute has been independent. Now our Institute needs international science contacts.

Ruslan Ruzibakiev, 56 (Uzbekistan) -  FSU coordinator
Ruslan Ruzibakiev, 56 (Uzbekistan) - FSU coordinator, director, Institute of Immunology, Uzbek Academy of Science
EurAsia 98 gives my colleagues and me the opportunity to collaborate with scientists from Stanford University, Oxford University and others but it is also, for me, a realisation of a youthful dream about genetics from a time when this science was prohibited in the former Soviet Union (1948-1962).

I am very thankful to my friend doctor Spencer Wells, who helped me to organise our first expedition in Uzbekistan in 1996.That expedition was very successful and the results were quite fascinating but the results of EurAsia 98 are expected to be more far reaching - we want to reconstruct the ethnogenesis of Central Asia's indigenous populations, the Uzbeks, Turkmens, Kazakhs, Kirgizs, Tadjiks etc

Finally, although the expedition is an excellent opportunity to add to the scientific knowledge of our people I hope it will also raise the profile of Uzbekistan on the world stage.

Mark Read

I've been working as a freelance photographer, mainly working in travel and documentary but based in London for the past four years. My work has varied from three weeks photographing the Hawaiian Islands to spending three months with cocaine farmers in Colombia.

Mark Read, 31 (UK) - documentary and travel photographer
Mark Read, 31 (UK) - documentary and travel photographer
EurAsia 98 is a unique opportunity - not only will I be accompanying a prestigious scientific quest, but also travelling through previously inaccessible countries and meeting volunteers and collaborators as we go.

Central Asia is moving rapidly on to the world stage, aware that the world is watching with great interest. I want to present images that neither patronise nor objectify the people we meet as I seek to illustrate the story of EurAsia 98. With the immediacy that the World Wide Web offers I will be able to download digital images every week - I hope this will encourage an "on-line critique" providing perhaps one of the first truly interactive expeditions.

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