Some of the Society of American Archaeology Annual Meeting attendees: Jesse Tune, Dr. Heather Smith and Christine Gilbertson. (Photo by Dr. Heather Smith)
Some of the Society of American Archaeology Annual Meeting attendees: Jesse Tune, Dr. Heather Smith and Christine Gilbertson. (Photo by Dr. Heather Smith)

Students, faculty, staff and alumni from the Eastern New Mexico University Department of Anthropology and Applied Archaeology gave presentations at the Society of American Archaeology Annual Meeting in Albuquerque in April.

Department attendees included Dr. Kathy Durand (professor of anthropology and department chair), Dr. Heather Smith (assistant professor of anthropology with a paper, poster and role as a session chair), Jenna Domeischel (Blackwater Draw Museum curator with a poster), Christine Gilbertson (graduate student with a poster), Tawnya Waggle (graduate student with a poster), Catherine Carbone (graduate student with a poster) and Laura Hronec (alumna with poster). Two graduate students, Jasmine Kidwell and Donald Purdon, were authors on the posters but could not attend the annual meeting.

Read more about their experiences:

Dr. Heather Smith, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

What was the topic of your poster? How did you choose your topic?

I co-chaired a session on fluted-point technology, a stone projectile-point technology associated with the earliest widespread cultural tradition in North America and the diagnostic artifact of the Blackwater Draw site, located here in Portales. I presented a paper in this session as well discussed the technological relationship between the types of fluted projectile points found at the Blackwater Draw site (Clovis points) and fluted points found in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska. This topic is the focus of my research into Paleoindian adaptation and dispersal at the end of the last Ice Age in North America.

I also co-authored a poster with ENMU Anthropology graduate student Christine Gilbertson, Blackwater Draw Museum curator Jenna Domeischel and assistant professor of anthropology at Fort Lewis College, Dr. Jesse Tune. Our poster documented new research that we are conducting at the Blackwater Draw site using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV…i.e. drones) to create 3D models of the terrain that will help us in our development of website applications for computers and personal devices that will allow people to learn about and visit the site from anywhere in the world.

Describe your annual meeting experience:

We had wonderful attendance in the fluted-point session and a fantastic response to the Blackwater Draw UAV-mapping project poster. We discussed the research and public outreach initiatives with many researchers from a variety of institutions and identified the potential for much future collaboration.

I personally attended quite a few paper and poster presentations; the most impactful sessions were papers in honor of great archaeologists like Dennis Stanford and Vaughan Bryant. In these sessions colleagues and students of these influential researchers presented an array of projects that have resulted from the colleague- and student-collaborations with these scientists, which was very inspiring.

What was your favorite part of the annual meeting?

My favorite part of the annual meeting was seeing our graduate students Christine Gilbertson, Tawnya Waggle and Katie Carbone talk about their posters with many researchers. Also, this was the first time one of our graduate students, Christine Gilbertson, attended a professional meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. These are our annual national meetings and the most important to our discipline of Archaeology. This year Christine presented a poster as a co-author working on the Blackwater Draw UAV-mapping project, but next year she will be presenting her own master's project research at the national meetings in Albuquerque and this experience will serve her well as she prepares to be lead-author presenting her own contributions to the discipline.

Jenna Domeischel, Blackwater Draw Museum Curator

What was the topic of your poster? How did you choose your topic?

I collaborated on two posters this year, both focused on public outreach at Blackwater Draw. The first was with Dr. Jesse Tune, from Fort Lewis College; Christine Gilbertson (one of our graduate students); and Dr. Heather Smith, an anthropology department faculty member here at Eastern. The topic of this one concerned UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle… basically, drone) mapping at the site. Our goal is to create an interactive aerial map that visitors to the site can download in app form to their phone, or that visitors to the website can use to check out the site. We chose this because Dr. Tune has collaborated with Dr. Smith on a few projects and he has been doing a lot of work with UAVs recently. He had the thought and suggested it to us, and the project was born.

The second poster was looking at student research (both current and recently graduated) that was centered on Blackwater Draw and was suitable for incorporating into public education, either for the website or the brick-and-mortar museum. Collaborators on this poster were Tawnya Waggle, a current graduate student; Jasmine Kidwell, a current graduate student; Laura Hronec, a recent grad; and Donald Purdon, a current graduate student. The goal of this poster was to highlight our students; all I did was put it together. They did all the hard work!

Describe your annual meeting experience:

My annual meeting experience at SAA is always a little frantic because I like to be involved in my field, so I end up going to a lot of meetings. This year I had a meeting for the Committee on Museums, Collections and Curation, of which I have been a member for the last five years. We're one of the most active committees in SAA, so we always have a busy discussion about issues in the field and new initiatives!

I also had a breakfast with the Board of SAA on Thursday morning, because I submitted a proposal to create a new Interest Group for Curation; all of the Interest Group Chairs go to a breakfast to hear about new regulations or opportunities affecting the groups. Our IG was approved by the Board only the day previous… yay! So then I hosted an exploratory meeting for the IG on Friday night. It was very well attended which is encouraging for all of us interested in making curation a priority in our discipline.

Luckily I did get to attend a few sessions. I went to the poster session on Museums and Collections, and the poster session on Paleoindian Archaeology on Thursday and the Collections Care Collaboration forum on Friday.

What was your favorite part of the annual meeting?

My favorite part of the SAAs is always being able to see far-flung friends and to meet up with like-minded people who are interested in getting new projects up and running. The meetings are a wonderful opportunity for new connections and new projects.

Tawnya Waggle, Anthropology Graduate Student

What was the topic of your poster?

"Blackwater Draw: Turning Student Research into Public Outreach"

Authors: Tawnya Waggle, Laura Hronec, Jasmine Kidwell, Donald Purdon and Jenna Domeischel

How did you choose your topic?

The Blackwater Draw Site is a valuable resource for students as well as the public. We chose this topic for the poster because we are increasing our efforts to connect visitors to the site and its resources. Our goal is to not just tell visitors the facts but to help them form a personal connection to the site and spark their interest to want to learn more.

Describe your annual meeting experience:

It was exciting to talk about different Blackwater Draw research focuses and how they tie into public outreach. I had the opportunity to speak with attendees about the hands-on Educational Trunk Program I developed and how this learning tool is utilized by the museum. By presenting the poster, I was able to share what I learned from creating the trunk program and speak with other professionals about their educational resources.

I attended multiple sessions focused on archaeology education and outreach. By attending these sessions, I learned how museums and other institutions are creating innovative programs and using technology to connect with visitors.

What was your favorite part of the annual meeting?

My favorite part of the annual meeting was reconnecting with people I have previously worked with and making new connections.

To see more photos from the conference, visit the Blackwater Draw NHL and Museum Facebook page.