My goal with mentoring students is to create and sustain a “coaching tree” environment, where graduate student research assistants direct undergraduate seniors and those seniors in turn help to train upcoming freshmen and sophomores in museum and curation research. Students take great pride in tasks that have real world applications in which they “make a difference” through their own mindfulness.
Current Ph.D. Students
Dr. Rachel Burger Ph.D
FOOD SECURITY IN ANCESTRAL TEWA COALESCENT COMMUNITIES: THE ZOOARCHAEOLOGY OF SAPA’OWINGEH IN THE NORTHERN RIO GRANDE, NEW MEXICO
My research investigates how people strategically utilize and manage animals as resources and how animal management shapes community interactions. Animals are a key part of our everyday lives and provide us with food and clothing, making them essential to the success of our society. My dissertation focuses specifically on a large prehistoric Native American population in northern New Mexico at the archaeological site of Sapawe'ouwinge, which dates from the late fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries, with a focus on how how people managed their animal resources, how animal products were distributed, and the role that the animals played in daily life. Despite the hardships they faced, the village of Sapawe’owingeh persevered for almost one hundred fifty years. The way that Sapawe residents managed their food definitely contributed to their success.
Bonnie Etter Ph.D.
Spanish Colonial Texas Archaeology, Protohistoric, Lithic Analysis, Geometric Morphometrics, Toyah Phase
Modern Texas life is undeniably influenced by its Spanish colonial history, but there is little research that explores how the actions of Native Americans shaped the Spanish colonial endeavor. On the frontiers of Spanish colonial control, multiple populations were interacting: the Spanish colonists, Franciscan missionaries, Spanish presidio soldiers, and various Native American groups. Analysis of the Spanish colonial period has focused either on the broad effects of European presence, such as the introduction of technologies and the spread of disease, or on the analysis of life within individual missions, primarily seen in analyses of household activities. My dissertation research explores Native American geopolitical dynamics through a study of the Toyah when the Spanish arrived in Central Texas and to how the broader regional context shaped colonial interactions leading up to missionization.
Ian Jorgeson Ph.D.
Protohistoric Pueblo Archaeology, GIS, Network Analysis, Social Integration, New Mexico
In the Ancestral Puebloan world, during the Classic Period (AD 1325 – 1600), regional populations aggregated into progressively fewer but larger towns and villages, with a maximum size reaching more than 2500 rooms, and an average size that may have been as much as ten times larger than in the preceding Coalition Period (Phillips et al. 2018). Previous research has explored the costs and benefits of aggregation, though no single explanation for aggregation in the Ancestral Pueblo world has proven satisfactory. Additionally, researchers have explored the roles played by changes in architecture, political organization, and ethnogenesis in permitting increasingly larger groups of people to successfully coexist in large towns. In addition to these important factors, deepening economic interactions between Classic Period Pueblo towns, including exchange of food, was also a critical aspect of aggregation. My dissertation research models and compares the networks connecting large Ancestral Tewa Classic Period towns in the Rio Chama basin with the networks connecting smaller Coalition Period villages and hamlets on the Pajarito Plateau. If we are correct that stronger network connections enabled regional populations to aggregate at increasingly larger villages, we expect to find stronger network connections among Chama villages, than those on the Pajarito Plateau.
Delfin Weiss Ph.D.
Historic Archaeology, Childhood Archaeology, Archaeological Survey, Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico
The Western American Frontier during the mid to late 19thCentury is often described as a quintessentially American experience; a period in which an ethos of self-reliance, independence, and resilience developed. Archaeological attempts to understand the processes of social change on the frontier have developed models that evaluate the circumstances around adult modification of culture, e.g. Borderlands theory, Middle Ground theory, and Third Spaces. While frontiers are considered one of the most archaeologically studied social phenomena, the experiences and contributions of children have not yet been incorporated into our understanding. Through the evaluation of childhood assemblages and site based contextualized socioeconomic factors, my dissertation research will determine if or how frontier parents and children modified cultural concepts or if socioeconomic conditions determined the pace of social change. Were adults more conservative in raising their children according to Victorian norms in areas where personal and economic conditions were insecure? Or did they abandon these norms under conditions of relative security? Answers to these questions have the potential to transform how we understand change in frontier settings, how frontiers evolve, and how frontier identities emerge under different and historically contingent settings.
Congratulations on a
successful defense in 2021!!