Letter from the DEO 2021

Each year, the DEO prepares a statement at the end of the academic year that highlights the successes and accomplishments of individuals associated with the Department, and I would not want to break with this tradition, even though it was far from a typical year.

I first wish to acknowledge the profound collective work, solidarity, and care of all members of the Department. The pandemic posed enormous challenges for everyone. Classes required additional prepping and modifications to accommodate online learning. Research plans were derailed, as travel bans were instituted, conferences cancelled, and publication pipelines slowed. Faculty, staff, and students caring for family—or supervising online schooling—shouldered new kinds of burdens. The psychological toll of widespread illness, death, grief, uncertainty, social isolation, and relentless political turmoil challenged our ability to focus on the educational mission of the department and university. The boundaries that many of us fiercely guard between our home and work lives were blurred, as cats sauntered across Zoom screens and children demanded our attention. Zoom fatigue sapped our energies, as we squinted to read the expressions of our meeting partners in tiny boxes on computer screens over hours of meetings. Even our own venerable building seemed to share in our struggles: Macbride Hall experienced not one but two water events in the fall of 2020—one of which forced the closure of our Main Office for some weeks.

This year was also marked by many important milestones among individual students and faculty, and I also want to recognize and celebrate these.  

  • Five Anthropology majors were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa: Rachel Li, Kathryn Anderson, McAlister Overholtzer, Kate Struckman-Johnson, and Kristin Vogel.
  • Undergraduate major Hannah Shrader was awarded the Graduate College Joseph E. and Ursil I. Callen Prize. 
  • Twenty-two students will be graduating with their BA/BS in Anthropology; 1, with honors.
  • Four graduate students joined the Department this year: Kyle Bikowski, Derick Juptner,
  • Jasmin Msuya, and Justin Soares.
  • Graduate student Ebenezer Adeyemi was awarded a place in the Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies Graduate Workshop. Ebenezer was also awarded his MA degree in May (advisor, Prof. Ted Powers).
  • Graduate student Steven Keehner was awarded a Donna C. Roper Research Grant from the Plains Anthropological Society.
  • Graduate student Ariane Thomas was awarded the Douglas W. Jones Memorial Grant from the Iowa Archeological Society.
  • Graduate student Kyle Bikowski received a Stanley Award for International Research.
  • Graduate students Caleb Klipowicz and Corinne Watts each received Student Conference Travel Grants from the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies.
  • Graduate student Brittany Anderson was awarded an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
  • Graduate student Addison P. Kimmel was a recipient of a Graduate College Summer Fellowship.
  • Two new graduate students will be joining us in the fall of 2021: Sophie Churchill and Andrés Restrepo Sánchez.
  • Prof. Heidi Lung was promoted to Associate Professor of Instruction.
  • Prof. Elana Buch’s book Inequalities of Aging was the winner of the 2020 Eileen Basker Memorial Prize given by the Society for Medical Anthropology.
  • Prof. Laurie Graham received the Society for Linguistic Anthropology Outreach Award.
  • Prof. Margaret Beck received an AIA-NEH Small Grant funding for work during 2020-2021 at and around Scott County Pueblo.
  • Prof. John Doershuk was co-awarded a CARES Act Grant for Museums and Libraries, which will be jointly administered by the Stanley Museum of Art, Office of the State Archaeologist, UI Pentacrest Museums, and University Libraries.
  • Prof. Emily Wentzell was awarded an Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant.
  • Professors Matthew Hill and John Doershuk were awarded a Student Technology Fee grant to purchase 3D scanners for the Department.
  • Prof. Glenn Storey published a new book - The Archaeology of Ancient Cities.
  • Prof. Katina Lillios coedited the book The Matter of Prehistory: Papers in Honor of Antonio Gilman Guillén with Pedro Díaz-del-Río and Inés Sastre.
  • As Director of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, Prof. Cynthia Chou co-organized two major webinars this year: "Pandemic, State and Society" and “In Solidarity with Asian and Pacific Islanders in America”.
  • The Department welcomed two visiting scholars: Dra. Marta Cintas-Peña (a Marie Curie postdoc from the Universidad de Sevilla, Spain) and Dr. Eric Hirsch (Franklin and Marshall College).
  • Faculty and students shared their research and expertise in conference papers at professional meetings, invited lectures, and media interviews in the US and around the world (of course, all by Zoom).

Thus, despite the extraordinarily challenging times, faculty and students from the Department continued to develop and disseminate anthropological knowledge, made progress with their research, and were recognized for doing so at the highest levels via an impressive array of publications, awards, and fellowships.  

Finally, I want to give special thanks to members of the Departmental Executive Committee, whose sage counsel was especially critical given the challenges of the year: Sarah Horgen (Departmental Administrator), Shari Knight (Administrative Services Coordinator), Matt Hill (Director of Graduate Studies), Ted Powers (Director of Undergraduate Studies), and Elana Buch (Curriculum Coordinator).

Katina Lillios
Professor and DEO, Anthropology