The Fiske Center Blog

Weblog for the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

April 16, 2017
by Fiske Center
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Alum Profile: Heather Law Pezzarossi

Heather showing a Nipmuc community member around the lab in 2012.


1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis? For those of you who are further out from UMB, you can say something about your route to your current situation (additional degrees, career changes, etc.)

I earned my Master’s Degree from UMass Boston in 2008. My Master’s project was based on the Hassanamesit Woods Project, where I served as a TA in 2006, our first year of the field school, and continued until 2008. Since then, I’ve gone on to receive my doctorate in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. My doctoral project was also based on work at Hassanamesit Woods, where I continued to work as Project Archaeologist each summer until 2013. After I graduated from Berkeley in 2014, I moved back east to Syracuse University, where my partner and I have positions in the Anthropology department, he as an assistant professor, and I as a visiting scholar and adjunct professor. That position allows me to maintain an academic community so that I can continue to publish my work and pursue further research interests with an academic affiliation, which is important.

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?

My two most important recent projects are Remi and Lilou, ages 2.5 and 11 months. I have devoted much of the last three years to their full-time care. Being a stay-at-home mom has taught me a number of things, not the least of which are: the true meaning of exhaustion, the limits of my patience, my tolerance for Daniel Tiger. But I also see that I’m lucky to have the opportunity to step back a little, slow down and focus on them for a while. Not everyone can do that and I know I’ll always be glad that I was able to.

Career-wise, I’m working my way through several writing projects. I have learned how much you have to truly want something to do it after a full day of momming. And in that sense, I’ve reaffirmed my goals and interests as an archaeologist. I finished my dissertation when my oldest was 6 months old. For the last year I have been writing and editing a volume on the Archaeology of Indigenous Persistence in the Americas for the University of New Mexico Press, which is nearly completed. I’m working on a book about Nipmuc archaeology with Rae Gould, Stephen Mrozowski and Holly Herbster, and I’m writing up my first book manuscript based on my dissertation. I’m also developing a second research project based on my interest in Indigeneity and Modernity that I’m really excited about. I’ve also designed and taught a class in the Indigenous Archaeology of the Northeast from the Paleolithic to the Present, and I continue to search for a more permanent teaching position as a specialist in Northeast Historical Archaeology and Collaborative Indigenous Archaeology. Many more progressive institutions are reassessing the unsustainable wages and unfair expectations associated with adjuncting positions and realizing the importance of supporting dual career families in more equitable ways, so I’m hopeful that something will work out in the near future.

Heather in her element at Hass Woods in 2007.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?

My time at UMass was so special to me. I met my partner, Guido Pezzarossi there, and we made many lifelong friends. Dr. Mrozowski was (and continues to be) a great mentor. My summers in Grafton working with him, figuring out the Sarah Boston Site, that is what I remember most fondly about my time at UMass.

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?

I got a lot of advice in graduate school. Much of it had to do with the difficulties of advancing in academia as a career couple. I was warned repeatedly, that academia is not an easy path, especially for partners in the same field. They told us that we would never get into the same doctoral program, and we didn’t. But we each applied to 9 different programs, and got into two different schools that were close to one another. They told us we would have a hard time getting tenure track appointments at the same school, and so far we haven’t. But we are both active in the field and support one another’s progress. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m glad I was warned, but also glad that we were both too stubborn to let that stop us. The best advice I’ve gotten is that life is messy and complicated and the richer it is, the more unpredictable its path will be. I hope that helps people who are thinking about applying to the Master’s program at UMass, or thinking of continuing on afterward.

March 9, 2017
by Fiske Center
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Alum Profile: Mike Way

Mike Way, graduated from UMB in 2010
Senior regulatory compliance manager at Caldwell Compliance

Mike’s desk is regularly covered with modern-day artifacts at Caldwell’s Pleasanton, CA office.

1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I am a senior regulatory compliance manager at Caldwell Compliance. I manage environmental and regulatory compliance as a contractor for a nationwide wireless carrier. My job is to ensure all telecom sites deployed by the carrier meet National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requirements. After obtaining my M.A. in Historical Archaeology from UMB, I conducted archaeological field surveys for three years for telecom projects with an environmental consulting firm. I was then promoted to head of the archaeology department nationwide, a position I held for a year before moving to Rochester, New York to try my hand at real estate and site acquisition for telecom sites. After a year, I came back to California and took up my current position, which requires both my archaeological and site acquisition background.

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?

I recently worked on a project on California’s Central Coast in an area sensitive to a California Coastal Native American Tribe. I was able to facilitate discussion between the tribe and the wireless career and consulted on a redesigned site plan to resolve the Tribe’s concerns, allowing the project to move forward in a manner agreeable to all parties.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?

I remember exciting opportunities to work with top-tier archaeologists in the field on sites deeply important to American history, from Nantucket to Lexington and Grafton, MA.

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?

The advice I wish I had received is to dive in and own your thesis. Dig into the archaeological and historical data, clearly define the questions you want to answer and be sure the data you will collect will provide an answer to your question, one way or another. I spent a lot of time concerned about all of the issues and complexities I couldn’t cover, and in hindsight I should have focused more on my specific question and trusted my own ability to be an expert and come to a reasonable and logical conclusion.

5. Anything else you would like to add?

My training in the Historical Archaeology M.A. program has served me well. Career paths are not always linear, so be open to learning new things. Chances are your previous training, experiences, and success will take you down a rewarding and fulfilling career path.

January 9, 2017
by Fiske Center
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Alum Profile: Bill Farley

Bill Farley, graduated from UMB in 2012
PhD candidate in Anthropology at University of Connecticut

Bill Farley, while teaching at the University of Connecticut

Bill Farley, while teaching at the University of Connecticut

1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Since graduating from UMB in 2012 I have been a graduate student at the University of Connecticut. I’m now in my last year so I’m a “doctoral candidate” – otherwise known as ABD. Let me start off with a bit of advice though – I got accepted to a PhD program before I finished my thesis and spent my first semester at UCONN while I wrote my MA. That was so stressful – finish your MA BEFORE you go to a doctoral program, if you can! Thanks to my experiences with teaching at UMB, including TAing for a field school, I moved into teaching my own classes pretty quickly at UCONN. Teaching is my passion and I’ve sought every opportunity to do more of it as I have gone along. So much so that I now usually teach three courses a semester in addition to field school and intersession courses. I teach at UCONN as a part of my assistantship, but I also teach as an adjunct instructor at the University of Hartford and Connecticut College. I’m very happy to say that I will be starting as an Assistant Professor at Southern Connecticut State University in the Fall!

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?
My research is focused on early 17th-century sites. For my diss, I’m comparing a 1630s Pequot village in Mystic, CT, to a 1630s-40s Puritan house in Marshfield, MA. These projects have given me the opportunity to work on ongoing field and lab projects. I also regularly collaborate with a number of communities including the Native American community in CT, CRM firms, and even avocational metal detectorists. I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work on these two rare and exciting sites, and they have opened up some amazing opportunities to explore cultural change and continuity during the earliest years of Euro- and Native American interactions.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?
I will never forget my first class at UMB. I was terrified and felt very sure that I did not belong with my new and obviously brilliant classmates. So I’m sitting in theory with Steve Silliman who started the class by going through a list of famous archaeological theorists, asking who we were familiar with in order to assess where we stood in our training. The only name I even recognized was Binford. This experience did not change my impression that I was woefully unprepared to be there. Every week after that class, with our heads full of new names and ideas, my classmates and I trekked to The Banshee to drink $2 shocktops and begin to unpack and unwind. With the help of my brilliant classmates and professors like Steve I learned more than I thought I could fit in my head when I started. Over my two and a half years at UMB I transitioned from an unsure undergraduate to a real archaeologist.

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?
Take every opportunity offered to you, if at all possible. Both the job market and the graduate school application process are fiercely competitive so be prepared to think outside the box and make your opportunities. Network! Being well-liked by people is still the best way to find out about and be offered opportunities. So few people find their dream job by cold-applying for it nowadays. Also, don’t be too reliant on advisers and senior scholars for providing you with ideas and research goals. The earlier you start pushing yourself to be creative and complete projects, the stronger you will be in the long run. Lastly, try to be zen about the whole thing. Graduate school is grueling and there will be times now and in your future when it will be soul-crushing. Practicing a degree of self-love is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself on this journey. If you do not learn to love yourself, you will get burned out. There are sadly very few outside sources providing you with positive vibes in graduate school. You must learn to produce those vibes from within.

5. Anything else you would like to add?
Graduate school can be painful. It can be thankless. As the years go on (and if you pursue a doctorate you can expect to add between 5-8 years to your stay, on average) it can be a challenge to stay motivated. You’ll watch many of your contemporaries in “normal” jobs, making decent money and having decent health insurance. My advice is to try and remember that you love doing this. And you’re good at it too. They wouldn’t have let you into grad school if you weren’t the cream of the crop. Your impostor syndrome can and will attempt to sabotage both your success and your happiness. Don’t let it! You are smart and wonderful and amazing – it can be difficult but try and remember that. Surround yourself with people who will honestly remind you why you can accomplish your goals. Love yourself!

December 6, 2016
by Fiske Center
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Alum Profile: Kathryn Catlin

Kathryn Catlin, graduated from UMB in 2011
PhD candidate in Anthropology at Northwestern University

Kathryn Catlin finishing up a test unit in 2016 at Hendilkot on the farm Hamar in Skagafjörður, Iceland.  Katie Wagner took the photo.

Kathryn Catlin finishing up a test unit in 2016 at Hendilkot on the farm Hamar in Skagafjörður, Iceland. Katie Wagner took the photo.

1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I got my MA in Historical Archaeology from UMass Boston in 2011. Now I’m a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Northwestern University, and this year, thanks to grants from the Fulbright Program, the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation, and the NSF, I’m living in Iceland doing research for my dissertation, in which I investigate marginal medieval household sites and their relationship to social and environmental change.

I can’t really say I have a typical day, which I think is one of the great things about being in academia. Life as a grad student at Northwestern is fairly similar to UMass Boston: reading papers, writing papers, attending seminar classes and guest lectures, working on research for my own project or my advisor’s, and in many quarters, serving as a teaching assistant. It also involves a lot of grant writing. At NU, I have gotten involved with graduate student advocacy groups, something I never did at UMass and which has been very rewarding.

Here in Sauðárkrókur, Iceland in November, my day starts well before sunrise even if I sleep in (sunrise now is after 10 am). I have a desk at my flat as well as at the museum in town, so I might work at either place on data analysis or writing part of a report, article, or chapter for my dissertation. In September, I spent most days floating the macrobotanical samples we collected this summer, in preparation for mailing them to Boston. Some days I go to the archives or the library, where I am reading and translating records about the region that date from the late medieval period to the early 20th century. Twice a week I attend an Icelandic class aimed at foreigners, and this month I’ve been going to a book club where we are reading Sturlungasaga in Icelandic. In the evenings I come home and cry about the US election fallout while I practice knitting, or have dinner with friends. In January I plan to move to Reykjavik, where I will be in residence at the University of Iceland and my life will change again, and then in April I’ll come back north to start my final summer of fieldwork as the days start to get longer and warmer.

I took a meandering path to get to NU, which began well before I started at UMass. My undergraduate degree and my first Master’s are in engineering. After working in that field for a few years, I decided I needed to make a switch, and began taking archaeology classes at my local community college. From there, I applied to graduate schools and came to UMass. I got my MA in two years and then worked for a year in the GIS department at the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which gave me great experience in GIS and web map programming, and also meant I was able to focus on PhD applications without worrying about my thesis at the same time. I would recommend that for anyone who wants to go on to a PhD – finish your thesis quickly, then take a year off of school to gain more practical experience and to write applications.

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?

I think my dissertation is the most interesting! However, in the interest of diversifying this post, I’m going to talk about something else. (For my dissertation, I’m working in association with the Skagafjörður Church and Settlement Survey, of which John Steinberg and Doug Bolender at UMB are PIs, so I will assume many readers are familiar with the broad outlines of that project. Feel free to ask me questions in comments though, or read this interview I gave to Polar Field Services last spring.)

My advisor at Northwestern is Matthew Johnson, and I’ve been working with him on the recently concluded Elite Landscapes of Southeastern England project, jointly run by NU with the University of Southampton Archaeology department and the National Trust in the UK. Through geophysics, landscape survey, standing building survey, historical research, and other techniques, we studied the evolution of the prehistoric through modern social and environmental landscapes at Bodiam Castle, Scotney Castle, Knole House, and Ightham Mote in Kent and Sussex Counties in SE England. I assisted with the surveys and led an effort to locate and synthesize grey literature, reports, and artifact finds from excavations and mitigation work at Bodiam over the last two centuries. I’ve learned a lot through the course of the project, especially about the traditions of medieval archeology and landscape analysis in the U.K., which has helped me to put my work in Iceland and on historic sites in the US into a broader international perspective. I’ve gotten to work with British stakeholders, professionals, and graduate students, as well as several teams made up of both American and British undergraduates, and the perspectives, experiences, and friendships we’ve shared have been very rewarding. Also, what can I say, working at medieval castles is every bit as fun as you might imagine! We have an edited volume coming out very soon in which I co-authored a few chapters.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?

One thing about UMass that I appreciated while I was there, and appreciate even more in hindsight, was the way everyone in the Fiske Center gathers together for lunch or for Tea @ 3 with Dennis (I hope you still do that!). It was a lovely change to take a few minutes out of the day to relax with students and professors and talk about something other than school, and I miss that.

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?

The best advice I got at UMB (and I think this holds true for grad school and for life in general): take full advantage of your opportunities. If you have a chance to learn to float, develop your GIS skills, assist with a geophysical survey, apply for a grant, talk at a conference, dig at a new site, or teach a class, TAKE IT, even if it doesn’t seem directly related to your thesis. I learned so many new skills and worked on so many projects while I was at UMass just because I stepped up when the opportunity arose – sometimes I don’t know how I had time to do so much, but somehow, it all fit. In particular, the labs and collections and UMass and around the Boston area are fantastic; take advantage of them while you can. Conversely, if you see an opportunity that WILL help with your thesis, take it! One of the best decisions I made at UMass was to take an independent study in anthropological theory and Icelandic history instead of that semester’s elective seminar; it set groundwork that helped me to write a better thesis, and put me in a better position to succeed at NU.

The second best advice I got is to stop stressing about the thesis and just write it. It´s not an end in itself but a means to an end, and your most important work is going to come later (and I think that is true no matter what you intend to do after graduation). My current advisor puts it this way: Q: What do you call the author of the worst dissertation in the world? A: Doctor.

5. Anything else you would like to add?

Just two more pieces of advice! Be open to change. I came into UMass with a clear idea that I would write a thesis on the excavation and social context of ferry landings on the Potomac. But I took the chance to go to Iceland, and now I’m living here, and I wouldn’t trade it. Relatedly, if you have the desire and the means, it is never too late to completely change the course of your life — you just have to do it.

I´m happy to answer questions in comments about any of this or any other topic, and you are also welcome to email me at kacatlin@u.northwestern.edu.

For more about the Alumni Profile series, look at the inaugural post here.

November 7, 2016
by Fiske Center
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Alum Profile: Lindsay Randall

Lindsay Randall, graduated from UMB in 2009
Curator of Education and Outreach at the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, Andover, MA
For more about the Alumni Profile series, look at the inaugural post here.

Lindsay with collections from Pecos, New Mexico, excavated by Alfred Kidder and curated at the Peabody Museum in Andover.

Lindsay with collections from Pecos, New Mexico, excavated by Alfred Kidder and curated at the Peabody Museum in Andover.

What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Given that in my undergraduate career I was a History major with a focus on secondary education, many of my cohorts joked that I wasn’t a Historical Archaeologist, but an Archaeological Historian. This combined with my ever present interest in education ensured that I would not follow the typical career path of someone with a Masters in archaeology.
I am currently the Curator of Education and Outreach at the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology at Phillips Academy (PA) in Andover, MA. PA is a boarding high school and the only high school in the United States to have an archaeology museum on its campus.
My main responsibility is to come up with creative and innovative ways to integrate archaeology education into classrooms through hands-on learning in a meaningful and realistic manner. Given the multidisciplinary nature of archaeology, I work with a variety of departments such as art, biology, English, foreign languages, history, music, and physics. I also co-teach a term long class, Race and Identity in Indian Country.
Our strategy is to not teach archaeology, but instead to teach WITH archaeology. Since we have important collections from sites such as Boylston Street Fish Weir, Etowah, Pecos Pueblo, and the Tehuacan valley, we are adamant that our students are given the opportunity to handle and work with these objects (with proper handling procedures beforehand!). We believe that it is important to instill appreciation and respect for stewardship in our students and that trusting them with such objects is vital to accomplishing this.

What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?

One of my favorite aspects of my job is how varied my responsibilities are. While working with the PA community is a significant part of what I do, it is also important to the school’s mission that I work with the broader community.
Recently I have partnered with Dr. Bethany Jay at Salem State University to offer a graduate level Summer Institute class, Preserving the Past: Using Archaeology to Teach History.
The class focuses on how archaeology can be used in middle and high school classrooms as a way to talk about minorities, who are often left out of the historical record. The class runs for five days and focuses on Native Americans, women, enslaved people, and free blacks, using local examples. During each day lesson plans are modeled for participants that focus on archaeology, yet utilize the resources available to all teachers.
One of my favorite lessons to come from this partnership is Little Spots Allow’d Them. It uses Dr. Alexandra Chan’s archaeological and landscape investigations at the Royall House and Slave Quarters to discuss how the concept of “otherness” was physically manifested in the landscape and the implications it has for us today. This type of activity forces students to think in a completely different way about the landscape and buildings they see every day. Plus I let them use lots of red string, which is always a win in teaching.

Students attaching yarn sight lines to model of the Royall mansion as a way to help them understand historical landscapes and uses.

Students attaching yarn sight lines to model of the Royall mansion as a way to help them understand historical landscapes and uses.

What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?

One of the main things that I remember from my time in the program is how close my cohort was and still is, really. I truly do not think I would have been as successful in the program without their help and support.
Our closeness however has not ended since our graduation. We still call upon each other to help with various projects – I recently worked with one person on archaeology activities to do with his daughter’s elementary class. And sometimes I get together with a grad school friend and hang out at the beach during a “staycation.” And it is always fun to catch up with someone at the SAAs or at another conference.

What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?

The best advice I got was from Dave Landon when he told me that “Done is better than perfect.” This motto has really helped me keep things in perspective in both my professional and personal life.

October 4, 2016
by Fiske Center
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Alum Profile: Katie Kosack

Katie Kosack, graduated from UMB in 2010
Currently a Laboratory Supervisor at a CRM firm
For more about the Alumni Profile series, look at the inaugural post here.

Katie Kosack picture

1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Currently I am the Laboratory Supervisor and Historic Analyst for a Cultural Resource Management (CRM) firm. My tasks vary depending on the projects I’m assigned to, where our crews are working, and the time of the year. One of the best parts of my job is it’s something new all the time. The collections I’ve worked on, for example, come from all over. It could be a 20th-century site in Ohio, an urban site in New Orleans, or a colonial period site from Maryland. Daily, I manage the processing (washing, sorting, labeling, etc.) of artifacts, complete the cataloging and analysis of historic period artifacts, photograph artifacts, help to write portions of reports, and arrange for final curation of collections with curation facilities. Database management and data manipulation are large parts of my day. Part of working for a CRM firm is being flexible, so I also complete site file and background research at state archives for upcoming projects. One of the highlights of my current position is organizing our internship program and working with college and high school interns in the lab.

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?
Most recently I was part of a team from our firm that completed the analysis of thousands of artifacts from a large scale urban archeology project in New Orleans. We completed the cataloging and focused analysis of late-19th and early-20th century artifacts, particularly ceramics, glass bottles, and small finds, to explore consumerism and themes related to ethnicity and socio-economic status. One of my favorite parts of the project was the analysis of the collection of patent medicine bottles.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?
The people — professors, my cohort, and staff at the Fiske Center are what I remember most about my time at UMass. Whether I found myself sorting through hundreds of redware sherds from the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington, MA, in the middle of the woods excavating (and dodging ticks & poison ivy) at the Sarah Boston Farmstead at Hassanamesit Woods, or just having lunch in the lab lounge, I always remember being surrounded by great people with an infectious passion for archaeology. At UMass I made great connections and friendships that continue to make me a better person and archaeologist to this day!

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?
The best advice I got in graduate school was that a PhD program wasn’t a “requirement” and to think about it. I’ve learned that getting a PhD isn’t for everyone and isn’t necessary for every position. I’m glad that I decided to pursue a laboratory position out of the program and continue to use skills I learned at UMass everyday! Two other small pieces of advice to graduate students: 1. Just start writing! My thesis adviser, Christa told me this one afternoon after I had organized my outline for the 3rd time. It’s true just starting the writing process is half the battle and, 2. Don’t ignore 20th-century material culture…I never thought I’d be cataloging battery cores, light bulb parts, or so much white earthenware, but it’s everywhere!

September 7, 2016
by Fiske Center
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Alum Profile: Miles Shugar

Miles Shugar, graduated from UMB in 2014
Program Coordinator, Anthropology Department, UMass Boston

Miles in his new UMB space, next to the main Anthro Department office.  Stop by and say hi!

Miles in his new UMB space, next to the main Anthro Department office. Stop by and say hi!

1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I am the Program Coordinator for UMass Boston’s Anthropology Department. My duties are split between grants administration and internship coordination, though I have a host of related responsibilities. On any given day, I spend a good portion of my time attending meetings with faculty and staff regarding upcoming projects, deadlines, budgetary issues, and various other administrative situations. Another large chunk of my time involves helping to develop our nascent Public Anthropology Masters program (PAMA), specifically the mandatory internship portion during which our students will lend their anthropological skills to a community organization or institution. My role is to start conversations and grow relationships with community partners who would benefit from (and, in turn, be of benefit to) UMass Boston anthropology interns, and to act as a liaison between our students, the faculty, and the community. These tasks could take me all over the UMass campus as well as greater Boston on any given day, which altogether contributes to a sense of action and passion that I have fostered for this new position with my alma mater.

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?

My time working for the Anthropology Department has been short thus far, as I only began my position at the beginning of July. Despite that, I feel as if I’ve experienced an exciting flurry of activity related to grants and the new PAMA program in my short two months. The Anthropology faculty have come together in a creative and collaborative way to usher in the PAMA, which will be the department’s second graduate program (the other being the Historical Archaeology MA). Related to that, a number of the faculty are actively engaged in or are planning to propose ambitious research projects with federal sponsors and results that will gather practical knowledge about how various social, political, health, and environmental factors tangibly affect health outcomes and quality of life for Bostonians and the greater Massachusetts population. I have had the privilege of sitting in on a few of the meetings related to PAMA and burgeoning research projects, and I have even had an opportunity or two to contribute input to the conversations in which they are being developed. For example, I recently participated in a meeting regarding an upcoming proposal to a federal health research institution where an interdisciplinary, inter-University team will gather ethnographic data from a spectrum of Boston’s Latino and Asian-American communities to determine what effects ethnic categorization has on public health outcomes. Since I became a resident of Boston five years ago, I have felt a need to become embedded within and familiar with a broader swath of the community than I would normally interact with as part of my daily routine. I began to achieve that goal in small part by volunteering with community organizations such as the Haley House, but more broadly, it is my hope that I can use my role as Program Coordinator to help connect the talents, skills, and research of UMass Anthropology to the publics that could benefit so much from them.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?

I treasure my time as an MA student at UMass, both in terms of my professional and personal development. Being surrounded by a holistic department full of faculty, staff, and students collectively working towards the common goals of archaeological education and research was formative, and helped me realize what I wanted to do contribute to the field of archaeology, rather than what I wanted to gain from it. More specifically, I got the strong impression that the Fiske Center and the Historical Archaeology program were steering their projects towards a collaborative, community-based framework. With that sort of intention, the conversations that would occur throughout the labs and over meals throughout long days of cataloging and artifact processing were eye-opening. There was this sense of, “If we aren’t doing it for the public, or with our results and analyses accessible to and beneficial for the public, then what is the practical point of it?” In other words, it seemed that public archaeology was a given, and that the mindset of community as stakeholder and collaborator was entrenched.

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?

I remember how much anxiety I felt over picking a thesis topic—would it suit me? Could I finish it in time? I overheard someone saying, “It’s just your thesis—you don’t have to be in love with your topic, you just need to ask a question about a set of data and answer it to the best of your ability,” and that was sort of freeing. So in the end, I decided to pick one of the most arcane sites I had come across: a 19th century horse railroad depot in Roxbury, Boston, that I knew nothing about; generally, in terms of horse-drawn streetcar railroads of the 19th century, and specifically, in the ways that they helped structure the Boston that we have grown into today. I eventually fell in love with the topic anyway, as you might have guessed, but I’m glad I got out of the comfort zone of what I initially thought I was capable of being interested in! I think that as a new graduate student, I was worried that if I didn’t reinvent the discipline, I’d perish. But eventually I realized that we are stewards of the data, not the other way around, and that part of the fun of archaeology is playing with scale and the anthropological toolkit to see how different sites and data can be seen to have interesting and sometimes unintentional repercussions down through the years.

August 22, 2016
by Fiske Center
0 comments

Alum Profile: Katherine Howlett Hayes

Katherine Howlett Hayes, graduated from UMB in 2002
Associate Professor of Anthropology; Chair, American Indian Studies
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

This is my best "If you don't do what I say I will assign you to a committee" look.

This is my best “If you don’t do what I say I will assign you to a committee” look.

1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am an associate professor of anthropology and currently chair of the American Indian Studies department at the University of Minnesota. Seemingly most of what I do on a day-to-day basis is email and meetings! Though I still try to spend at least a day per week focusing on my research and I teach two courses per year, my administrative work right now takes up most of my time. In AIS, that means supporting our faculty and teaching specialists, creating or expanding curricular programs that benefit our American Indian students, and coordinating community relations. Much of the latter is centered on our two language programs, Ojibwe and Dakota, because the number of first-language speakers in both is dangerously low. The language teachers are amazing, but that is the hardest job of all, saving languages.

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?
I have been working on the archaeology and public memory of Bdote/Fort Snelling, a local heritage site with a very troubled history. As a public site run by the Minnesota Historical Society, it was created to focus interpretation on the “original” 1820s military fort. But a multitude of stakeholders and the historical society wish to bring more attention to the more complicated history, including episodes of war, mass incarceration, and genocide of Native people; the presence of enslaved African-Americans at the fort; and the later military history that brought Japanese-Americans to the WWII language school. I’ve been working with the historical society and some of the descendant communities to create new perspectives on those histories, by focusing on landscapes and material culture beyond the 1820 view visitors get now. It’s a huge project, but really fascinating.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?
I learned an awful lot from everyone, but I especially enjoyed working with Dennis Piechota because he thinks so expansively and creatively about how to answer our research questions. I remember one year we were planning the field season at Sylvester Manor, and he was asked what he would like to do there as part of his own research, and he got a totally mischievous look on his face before saying, “I want to bring a chunk of the site back to my lab so I can excavate it there.” And ultimately, he did exactly that. He taught me to always voice your crazy ideas, because sometimes you say it to people who know how to get it done.

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?
Barbara Luedtke gave me a little printed sheet that said “Done is better than perfect” – useful advice even now. If you don’t get your work out there, people can’t engage with it.

5. Anything else you would like to add?
Come to the AAAs in Minneapolis this year!

For more on the alumni profile series, click here.

July 20, 2016
by Fiske Center
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Alum Profile: Craig Cipolla

Craig Cipolla, graduated from UMB in 2005
Associate Curator of North American Archaeology, Royal Ontario Museum
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto

The Mohegan Archaeological Field School excavates an eighteenth-century domestic site, July 2015. This photo is from a forthcoming article by Craig Cipolla and James Quinn that will appear in the Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage.

The Mohegan Archaeological Field School excavates an eighteenth-century domestic site, July 2015. This photo is from a forthcoming article by Craig Cipolla and James Quinn that will appear in the Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage.

1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I just started a new job as Associate Curator of North American Archaeology at the Royal Ontario Museum and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. My day-to-day consists of my own research, collections management, exhibits, and teaching at the University.

My research focuses on North American archaeology, particularly New England and the Great Lakes. My main interests include archaeological theory, material culture, the archaeology of colonialism, indigenous collaborative archaeology, heritage, and fieldwork. I direct an annual archaeological field school in partnership with the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut and I look forward to the possibility of developing a field project here in the Toronto area at some point in the future. For now, my Toronto-based research will focus on the Royal Ontario Museum’s extensive collections.

Collections management consists of organizing and maintaining our North American archaeological collections, a large portion of which come from southern Ontario. I am responsible for working with outside researchers and First Nation groups who have interests in our collections. Essentially, I am responsible for archaeological assemblages amassed over more than a century. It is a huge responsibility.

Before joining the ROM, I was Lecturer in Archaeology and a Marie Curie Research Fellow in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester. There, I directed a Master’s Program in Historical Archaeology and the Centre for Historical Archaeology, an interdisciplinary research center devoted to the archaeology of the last 500 years. I taught courses in historical archaeology, North American archaeology, the archaeology of colonialism, and archaeological theory. I am excited to bring similar courses to the University of Toronto through my new position in the Department of Anthropology.

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?

I love my work with the Mohegan Tribe. The project that I now direct in partnership with the Tribe is actually 20-years old (I began in 2010, just after finishing my Ph.D.). I truly believe that we have established an equal partnership that allows us to explore important new directions in collaborative indigenous archaeology and pedagogy. We are just beginning to publish some of the results so it is a very exciting time.

I’m currently finishing a book on contemporary archaeological theory (co-authored with Oliver Harris). It explores archaeological theory from about the year 2000 in language that is accessible to multiple audiences, including undergraduate students. We developed the project while teaching theory together at the University of Leicester. Generally speaking, it is a book that I’ve always wanted to write, so I will be thrilled to see it in print soon and use it in my teaching. The book is important because it will help to bring some of the more intimidating recent directions in theory (symmetrical archaeology, new materialism, material semiotics, and the ontological turn) into classrooms.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?

This is too difficult a question. There is certainly much more than one thing! I suppose the most important skill set they offer at UMB is a holistic understanding of the research process. Their MA students really benefit from designing their own projects, implementing them in the field and laboratory, and writing them up. (This is the opposite of some “fast food” MA programs that exist in the world out there.) For my MA, I worked with a faunal collection from the Eastern Pequot Reservation. Within that one project, I delved into practice theory, faunal analysis, experimental archaeology, and even a bit of soil science. I eventually developed the project into conference papers and a few publications. I feel that my time at UMB—thinking through and experiencing the research process—allowed me to really hit the ground running when I began my Ph.D.

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?

Make sure you stay on schedule, but also take the time to enjoy your status as a graduate student. I did a terrible job at this, but I recommend building strong relations with your cohort and learning from them. Also, appreciate all that time you have to read!

For more alumni profiles, look here!

March 16, 2016
by Fiske Center
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Alum profile: Ashley Peles

Ashley Peles, graduated from UMB in 2010
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Uncovering a possible sub-floor pit at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest, Summer 2012.

Uncovering a possible sub-floor pit at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Summer 2012.

1. What is your position now; what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I’m currently a graduate student at the University of North Carolina; I’m ABD and am expecting to have another two years here, between dissertation analysis and write-up. This year (and next year) my main job is as a Research Assistant for one of my advisors, Vin Steponaitis. We are working (along with one other RA, the Research Laboratories of Archaeology’s (RLA) public outreach coordinator, and the RLA’s associate director) on building a website about North Carolina archaeology, modeled on Texas Beyond History. More specifically, I’m working to take site reports and articles about specific sites and turn that into more public-friendly information. When we start getting submissions from the archaeologists who excavated many of those sites, it will be my job to edit those and get them up on the site as well. You can actually see what we’ve got in progress at ancientnc.web.unc.edu. I’m also working a small number of hours as an RA for an NSF that our department got (C. Margaret Scarry, Dale Hutchinson, and Ben Arbuckle). The goal of their NSF project is to combine paleoethnobotanical, zooarchaeological, and bioarchaeological data from sites in the North Carolina Piedmont in order to better understand diet and health in the late prehistoric and early historic periods. Right now I’m working on compiling information about aging deer and will also be getting into contact with the Fish and Game people to find out what they know about herd demographics in NC and see if we can get some aged jaws from them. Outside of those jobs, I’m organizing materials and tying up loose ends from the 2012 field season at the Feltus Mounds in Mississippi, working on a 3D modeling project (early French colonial Natchez, Mississippi), and completing a rough sort on all the faunal material for my dissertation.

2. What is the most interesting project (field, lab, academic, or community) that you have worked on recently?
My own dissertation is actually going to be pretty cool (zooarch and pbot analyses from three Late Woodland mound sites in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas)! But in terms of something that I can say more about – last summer and this coming summer we are running a field school at the Wall Site, a palisaded village that dates from roughly 1400-1600 and is located along a bend in the Eno River in Hillsborough, NC. Although much of the village has been disturbed by plowing, we still find the postholes from the palisade and houses, as well as large pits that seem to have refuse from some type of feasting or communal event. And last summer, while placing the water screening set up in the woods, we actually found undisturbed and well-preserved midden! It looks like it was on the edge of the plowed field, where soil accumulated, and that seems to be what saved it. There was a ton of deer coming out, as well as smaller amounts of fish, squirrel, rabbit, etc., plus some really neat bone tools and pottery. That’s one area that we’ll definitely be targeting again this summer. As part of the NSF I mentioned above, I’m also going to be analyzing the faunal material from that unit once the field school is over.

3. What is one thing that you remember specifically about your time at UMass?
Well, some of the people who were in my cohort are still some of my best friends. But if I had to pick something more specifically about the program, it would be the professors. I had the opportunity to work on projects with Steve Silliman, Steve Mrozowski, and David Landon, as well as be advised by Heather Trigg. That gave me experience on a lot of different projects with different types of methods, and I feel like I grew a lot as an archaeologist between when I started in the program and when I finished.

4. What is the best advice you got (or wish you had gotten) in graduate school?
Give yourself multiple options when it comes to jobs. Having an idea of your dream job is helpful for giving you an overall focus and direction, but life can get messy and being over-committed to one thing can make you feel like you are in an all-or-nothing situation. You can’t do everything, but learning a few different skills can help you out a lot when it comes to getting hired later. For example, I got trained in pbot and zooarch, which puts me in a relatively unique position; I’ve also dabbled in ArcGIS (practically a requirement these days) and digital archaeology methods. Plus knowing that you have multiple options can help keep things in perspective when you get stressed out about life and work in general (I think this is also good advice for anyone going on to get a PhD and has certainly helped keep me sane).

5. Anything else you would like to add?
Take the opportunity to do CRM! One of the unique aspects of UMB, at least when I was there, was the cross-section of people in the program. This gives you an incredible opportunity to get into some contract work. I was able to pay my UMB fees by doing CRM on breaks and ended up in a full-time position for two years while I was actually writing my master’s. While I’d say that getting a Master’s at UMB was the most important thing I’ve done, doing CRM was the second most important thing I (accidentally) did for myself. It gave me even more experience with different survey and excavation methods, and helped me to gain a lot of contacts that are still important to me today. And to reiterate the above comment – knowing that I can always work in CRM again (and am planning on applying for those jobs when I finish) has helped me to put things in perspective when I’ve gotten stressed out about the PhD and job prospects.

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