Dr. Tom Sever comes to the University of Alabama in Huntsville from a distinguished 27 year career at NASA.
His primary areas of research include:
- Environmental Archaeology
- Remote Sensing
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
- Human-Climate-Environment Interactions
Dr. Sever's research in archaeology crosses boundaries in the social and natural sciences and he welcomes students from all disciplines in his courses. UA-Huntsville courses include:
- People and Pixels: Linking Remote Sensing and Social Science
- Collapse of Civilizations
- Introduction to Remote Sensing
- Advanced Remote Sensing
Dr. Sever has conducted remote sensing archaeological research in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Israel, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Georgia. His most current research focuses on the ancient Maya of northern Guatemala, the site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, land modification and deforestation in the prehistoric Amazon Basin, and ancient Moche sites in northern Peru.
Much of human history can be traced through the impacts of human actions upon the environment. The use of remote sensing technology offers the archeologist the opportunity to detect these impacts which are often invisible to the naked eye. This information can be used to address issues in human settlement, environmental interaction, and climate change. Archeologists want to know how ancient people successfully adapted to their environment and what factors may have led to their collapse or disappearance. Did they overextend the capacity of their landscape, causing destructive environmental effects which led to their demise? Can this information be applied to modern day societies so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated?
Remote sensing can be used as a methodological procedure for detecting, inventorying, and prioritizing surface and shallow-depth archeological information in a rapid, accurate, and quantified manner. Man is a tropical creature who has invaded every environment on earth successfully; now we are ready to explore, and eventually colonize, the delicate environments of Space. Understanding how ancient man successfully managed Earth is important for the success of current and future societies.
For over twenty years, NASA has supported Dr. Sever in the application of remote sensing to archeological research issues. Various satellite systems (Landsat TM, SPOT, Radarsat, and IKONOS) as well as airborne systems (TMS, CAMS, TIMS, ATLAS, Inframetics Model 740 Thermal Scanner, and X/C band-Synthetic Aperture Radar) have been employed to address a diversity of archeological projects. In addition, a wide range of computer-implemented analytical techniques and ground verification procedures have been utilized in the detection and mapping of cultural features. Many of the data processing and analysis techniques have been developed in collaboration with interdisciplinary scientists at NASA's Stennis Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center.
Since 1984, Dr. Sever's NASA funded archeological/remote sensing research results have been presented at over thirty-five national and international symposia and conferences and have resulted in twenty-nine professional and peer-reviewed articles and chapters.
In addition to the professional literature, Dr. Sever's NASA funded research has been featured in the popular literature and media including National Geographic, Archaeology Magazine, NOVA, Popular Science, Omni, Discovery, Newsweek, New York Times, Science, Smithsonian Air and Space, Technology Review, Science Illustrated, National Public Radio, and the Discovery Channel.