Nik Petek-Sargeant

Dr Nik Petek-Sargeant

Research Engagement Manager

Nik is an archaeologist and historical ecologist by background with a focus on human-environment interaction in East Africa. He completed his PhD at Uppsala University in Sweden, and then joined the British Museum as a curator where he helped set up the 'Endangered Material Knowledge Programme'. This was a new research initiative on recording material cultural knowledge and expanded the programme to include over 30 projects across the world. He then joined Cambridge University as a Marie Curie fellow, before coming to Cambridge Zero.

His research interests include how we can make climate change more tangible and relatable through historical disciplines, how to better engage communities globally both digitally and in the real world, and how past practices and knowledge can help us understand past and present ecologies.


What is your favourite thing about being part of Cambridge Zero or the University of Cambridge?

My favourite thing is just the mass of knowledge out there and the ingenuity of people that try to solve complex environmental challenges.

What do you think is our biggest environmental challenge?

Our biggest environmental challenge is changing our behaviours and understanding that climate change is a social problem.

What gets you out of bed (and into work) in the morning?

The possibility to create something - a new project, a new research paper, (bake a fresh bread) - just being creative and scientific.


Petek-Sargeant, N. and Lane, P. (2022) Weather Landscapes and Archaeology: Material Weathering Practices and Tangible Climates. Archéologie, société et environnement 2: 10.21494/ISTE.OP.2022.0855

Petek-Sargeant, N. and Lane, P. (2021) Weathering climate change in archaeology: conceptual challenges and an East African case study. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 

van der Plas, G.W., de Cort, G., Petek-Sargeant, N., Wuytack, T., Colombaroli, D., Lane, P. and Verschuren, D. (2019) Distinct phases of natural landscape dynamics and intensifying human activity in the central Kenya Rift Valley during the past 1300 years. Quaternary Science Reviews 218: 91-106 

Boles, O., Shoemaker, A., Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Petek, N., Ekblom, A., Lane, P. (2019) Historical Ecologies of Pastoralist Overgrazing in Kenya: Long-Term Perspectives on Cause and Effect. Human Ecology 47: 419-434 

Petek, N. (2018) Archaeological Perspectives on Risk and Community Resilience in the Baringo Lowlands, Kenya. Studies in Global Archaeology 24 (Uppsala: Uppsala University) 

Marchant, R., Richer, S., Boles, O., Capitani, C., Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Lane, P., Prendergast, M.E., Stump, D., De Cort, G., Kaplan, J.D., Phelps, L., Kay, A., Olago, D., Petek, N., Platts, P.J., Punwong, P., Widgren, M., et al (2018) Drivers and trajectories of land cover change in East Africa: Human and environmental interactions from 6000 years ago to present, Earth-Science Reviews 178: 322-378 

Armstrong, C.G., Shoemaker, A.C., McKechnie, I., Ekblom, A., Szabó, P., Lane, P.J., McAlvay, A.C., Boles, O.J., Walshaw, S., Petek, N., Gibbons, K.S. et al (2017) Anthropological contributions to historical ecology: 50 questions, infinite prospects, PloS one 12(2), p.e0171883 

Petek, N. and Lane, P. (2017) Ethnogenesis and surplus food production: communitas and identity building among nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ilchamus Lake Baringo, Kenya, World Archaeology 49(1): 40-60