Meet the Researchers


Colin Richards


Photo of Colin Richards

Research Area: Archaeology

What is it like being a researcher?

For me research is the basis of my job, it is difficult to describe the feeling when a series of things you have been investigating or just thinking about fall into place and you see something in an entirely different way. The excitement this process generates then feeds into my teaching – as another series of research questions present themselves – it is one thing gaining personal satisfaction but quite another drawing other people into the excitement.

What inspired you to become a researcher?

Stumbling into archaeology and then discovering that I could pursue it as a career and that I possessed the ability to put things together and generate different ideas.

What is the best thing about being a researcher/your job?

Being able to pursue the most intriguing questions in a subject that you find truly fascinating – imagine being employed to research your hobby!

If you could go back in time which scientist/researcher/historical figure would you like to meet and what would you ask them?

Jack Ruby – why did you really shoot Lee Harvey Oswald!

What do you do in your free time?

I used to surf a lot but have stopped that now, but love all things to do with the ocean such as snorkelling, etc., which makes Rapa Nui (Easter Island) a fantastic place to undertake research and have water fun. Antiques, auctions and the antiques ‘world’ are interesting areas that I enjoy. More recently I have become interested in photography as it allows me to convey qualities of stone (I work in the Neolithic period – new Stone Age) and landscapes, in a way textual description cannot capture. I also love a good mystery…

What is the first ‘science’ you remember doing?

Playing with a chemistry set – much of which was missing!

What’s the funniest/strangest/most surprising experience you have had in your career?

Lots of these really, I guess the one that springs to mind is spending days of surface survey trying to find a late Neolithic village in Orkney. At the end of the survey pulling the good dog Rufus out of a rabbit hole and seeing that he had unearthed a house wall and found the actual location!

What discovery or invention could you not live without?

All forms of transport that allow travel – I love going on trips.

What do you think is the most important thing yet to be discovered/invented?

Easier ways to travel.