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Summer 2013

Thursday: June 13, 2013

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On Friday, I am training one of the newbs on the white light confocal profiler. She will be taking over my responsibilities for the DENTALWEAR Project. She’s the gal that allowed me to meet Milford Wolpoff at the AAPA’s. Have I mentioned that yet? If not, I will some day. She will also be subletting my apartment for a few weeks while I am away, which is fabulous.

On Sunday, I leave for a 4-week field school in Kentucky, along the Ohio River. The project is led by Matt, who is testing the site for his dissertation. The people who lived there were part of what is called the Fort Ancient culture. I know little about this, other than what I’ve learned from a presentation Matt gave. The area covers parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Essentially, at the time of contact, the French were north, in Canada, and came down west, along the Mississippi River. The English were in New England, but didn’t make it west enough to breach the cultural zone. The Spanish were in Florida, and de Soto traveled inland and west, but never came north enough. Ergo, we have a lot of historic documents about other cultures, but a gaping hole in knowledge for Fort Ancient around this time. I have several articles to read about the time period and culture, but with my thesis looming over my head, I haven’t been able to start those.

After the field school, I have a 1-week window to defend my thesis if I am still expecting to go to Sapelo. I may not get to – my advisor suggested I collect more data, but I had to come home instead of staying at school considering I will not have that option for the next 4 weeks. It is a bummer, but science is science and certain things just must be done. If I can’t go to Sapelo, I just keep telling myself that there is always next year. I am still in the process of editing too – obviously I do not have all my results yet since I am in the midst of collecting new data, but the majority of the paper is done, and I’ve been getting good feedback from my advisor and reader.

This is the last push til I officially graduate. After that, I should have an adjunct position at my undergrad alma mater (I checked in with them, considering I heard of a huge budget deficit, but all looks well). I will also begin the big cattle-call for getting people interested in the county-wide survey I’ve mentioned. I truly hope that once grad school business is all over, I have time to recap my experience as a grad student. I’ve done so much, it would be a shame not to share!

 

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AAPA 2013 Poster Presentation

Wednesday: April 17, 2013

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I was in Knoxville, Tennessee last week for the AAPA 82nd Annual Meeting. I will make a post about the whole experience later when I have more time, but here I will focus on my own contribution to the meeting. I had a poster presentation on Saturday, which you can see below (or read the real thing here). I had no idea what to expect from a poster presentation. The way it was set up, I had to stand by my poster for a half hour at 10:30am and then again at 2:30pm and engage in conversations with interested parties. I was dreading it for many reasons (talking to strangers, possibility of being criticized, not knowing enough about my subject, etc). My first presentation was interesting, not a single person stopped by until the very end! I blame this on the layout – bulletin boards were set up like dominoes against a windowed wall. In order to read the posters, one must enter each nook. My particular position, lucky number 13, had a huge column just in front of it – we are talking maybe 4 feet in diameter. It was very uninviting, to say the least. But, honestly, not having anyone show was just my style! In addition, the boards were not the appropriate size, so my poster had to hang off the edge – I feared this would make it look like I didn’t follow the size guidelines, but what could I do?

Across from me was someone I had cited, Rocco de Gregory. Unfortunately, I could not locate his thesis title before getting the poster printed, so I took that as an opportunity to meet him. His poster, also on dental microwear texture analysis, had a much better visibility so he had more visitors to deal with, keeping our conversation short.

My 2013 AAPA poster on display in Knoxville.

Now, someone did show at the very end, and had I not just been out to lunch with him the day before (and about 20 other well-known people in the Dental Anthropology field), I wouldn’t have known who he was since he was not sporting a name tag. Unfortunately for me and my anxiety, I did recognize him: Richard Scott. Really? I didn’t get to practice on any normal person before one of the Big Names dropped by?

I must say I was almost perfectly relaxed in speaking with him for the ten or so minutes he gave me. I attribute that to his own laid back style mostly, but a little bit also because teaching has given me some speaking skills, and I really do understand what microwear is all about. In fact, I think I was more nervous to finally meet my coauthor Jaime, since the cultural and temporal period is what I know so little about. She’s very nice though, just as my other co-author Sue had described her to be. Phew!

My second presentation had more visitors, which I thought ironic, since a large majority of attendees had already begun leaving Knoxville. My first group were Loren and Scott, from the Dental Anthropology Association. They were judging my poster as I walked up (I had submitted it to win the Albert A. Dahlberg Prize, though I find it unlikely), so I asked if they needed anything. A run-down was kindly requested, so I went through my unrehearsed spiel hoping for the best. Again, I was consciously aware of how comfortable I was – even knowing I was being judged in all likelihood. We talked for maybe more than ten minutes and then they went on their way. Rocco and I resumed conversations, talking about the most rad panel discussion ever. I will cover my impression of it in a later post, but here is something one of the panelists posted: Talking about data access at the 2013 AAPAs.

I explained my poster to two others, and that was that! I had provided 30 copies of the poster in the hanging file, 20 of which were taken. A few of my business cards were taken also (which is cool, because they represent a web project I have been working on, so hopefully I will get some early interest in it! In fact, my web project seems to be coming in a time that is quite ready for it – that rad panel discussion pretty much convinced me of that, but high hopes, and alas, I digress…)

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Adjunct Professor

Thursday: September 6, 2012

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I haven’t posted because all summer I have been working diligently to design a course for Cultural Anthropology when not scanning teeth. When the opportunity came up to teach this semester, I did not take it lightly. I am still working as a Research Associate, and it is getting to be crunch time for my thesis. The addition of teaching (not one, but two classes!) on top of that is a heavy task.

This semester will prove to be the busiest yet. Aside from teaching and DENTALWEAR work, I am enrolled in Archaeological Theory and Medical Anthropology. But of course, my utter despise of free time (what?) has coerced me into auditing a Comparative Osteology class as well. Plus there is still that whole commute thing on the weekends to see my husband and cats.

Oh and I moved to my own apartment literally right next to campus – I can walk! However, there are roaches, and I may be forced to move again if the landlord doesn’t get it under control. Soon.

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Conferences and Classes

Thursday: May 3, 2012

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Anthropologists meet at several events annually, depending on area of study and travel expenses, of course. The American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) was held in Portland this year. I did not attend, but my advisor and cohort did. Instead, I ran two sections of Monkeys, Apes, and Humans alone, and then helped guide the undergraduate Dental class with the bio graduates. I don’t like talking in front of groups, so I was happy that all classes were lab exercises (not lecturing), but it is something I need to get over soon (I will get to that…)

The Society for American Anthropology (SAA) was held the following week in Memphis. My advisor was the only one of us who had a chance to go. My Peru field school assistant and now friend Keith presented on the sample I helped collect data from. If you click on the image, it will take you to his site and you can see a larger version.

Another Possible Complication for the use of Harris Lines as an Indicator of Growth Disruption by Keith Chan

I am bummed I did not make it to either since I missed out on meeting some mentors in the field, but there is always next time, right? Next year, I hear that the AAPA will be in Tennessee and the SAA in Hawaii. I am not sure if I can make it to either one, but it is satisfying to know that I picked a field of study that involves traveling :)

And I may not have gotten to go to the meetings, but I was approached by the department Chair and asked if I was interested in teaching Cultural Anthropology. At the time, I was not sure what he meant (I had thought he meant that night). Long story short, I am being given the opportunity to teach a class this fall. Cultural anthropology has not been my area of focus, but it is a 100 level class, and I have been given notes and presentations from others who have taught it. Jeremy has even offered to let me sit in his class over the summer for a refresher, which I haven’t decided on yet. I haven’t decided yet about actually accepting the opportunity either (although my inner voice is screaming “Yes you have! You are doing it!”). If I am going to teach, I do not want it to be a blunder – I want to be able to focus on it. If I am going to have another semester of grad studies, I do not want it to blunder, either – I have to be wary of my stress level and time management. Aside from those two large issues, there is nothing but positives: I get paid, which roughly will cancel out my school costs; I get the experience of teaching; I get something for my CV; I help the department out when they are in a pinch; etc etc.

I really shouldn’t kid myself – I am going to do it. How could I not? I enjoyed SI-ing during my undergrad life. And Boy put it to me like this: I get to spread the good word of anthropology to newbs. It freaks me out, to have to present 50 minutes two or three times a week, instead of 15 minutes three times a year at a conference, but I just need to get over that. While I had never defined myself as a person who wanted to teach, I think I have to agree with others that it may suit me. I might as well find that out now, so I can begin pursuing that career when I graduate, rather than guessing that is what I ought to be doing when I find myself without a job. Right?

Oh, but the most ridiculous awesome part is that I have academic freedom to design the class myself, down to picking out the very book the students will be using. To say I am shocked is an understatement. To say I am ready for that responsibility is slightly bending the truth. But I have good people to refer to and help me out, so it will work out in the end.

Seriously, though…Me? A teacher?  C R E E P Y .

Oh, and one of my teachers puts together a newsletter for the department. They are huge files so it may take some time to load, but you can catch up with Volume 1 Issue 1 (details the Sapelo Island field school), Volume 1 Issue 2 (Lew Wallace excavations and a little bit about the DENTALWEAR Project), and Volume 2 Issue 1 (where there is a blurb about my research associate job with DENTALWEAR – this one isn’t posted yet at UIndy so I uploaded it for you).

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