Jane Buikstra— 2005 Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology

Award Citation:

The Archaeological Institute of America is proud to name Jane Buikstra as the recipient of the 2005 Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology.  Professor Buikstra is a founder of the study of bioarchaeology-- a field that combines forensic anthropology, paleodiet, paleopathology and the study of their social dimensions, especially as regards mortuary behavior.  She is well known for contributing to our understanding of the biological impact of European colonization in the Americas.  Her research emphasizes the intensive study of prehistoric skeletal populations, emphasizing both micro-evolutional change and biological response to environmental stress.  The book, The Bioarchaeology of Tuberculosis: A Global View on a Reemerging Disease (2003), that she co-authored, is considered a classic. She has conducted field research in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Honduras, Peru, Spain, Turkey and the United States and has coupled these field studies with intensive laboratory research.  The research achievement we celebrate is based in part on her versatility and skill in adapting a wide range of scientific techniques to bear on biological problems.  For instance, she has used radiographic, microscopic and chemical analyses to study osteological remains; strontium isotopes to study prehistoric migration and mortuary ritual; and carbon isotopes to study paleodiet and agricultural intensification.  Professor Buikstra has been a pioneer in the reconstruction and interpretation of bone preservation and modification in a variety of soil conditions.  She has studied the relationships of paleodiet and nutrition to variations in status, gender, bone pathology, and even hair chemistry.

Early in her career, she helped establish guidelines for licensing professional archaeologists.  As one of the editors of the monograph, Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains (1994), she aimed to establish forensic standards.  Her research ranges from a historic North American cemetery (described in the 2004 edited volume, Never Anything So Solemn: An Archaeological, Biological and Historical Investigation of the 19th Century Grafton Cemetery) to elaborate ancient Maya tombs (detailed in a co-authored chapter entitled "Tombs from Copan's Acropolis: A Life History Approach," in the 2004 edited volume Understanding Early Classic Copan).  As an advisor at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens she helped shape a new direction for the laboratory, mentored students, and authored the soon-to-be published article, "Bioarchaeological Approaches to Aegean Archaeology." 

Professor Buikstra has conducted seventeen projects in the American Midwest since her graduate research at the University of Chicago, where she received her M.A. in 1969 and a Ph.D. in 1972.  Her doctoral thesis was entitled, "Hopewell in the Lower Illinois River Valley: A Regional Approach to the Study of Biological Variability and Mortuary Activity."  From 1970 to 1984 she taught at Northwestern University, and was a Resident Scholar at the School of American Research from 1984–1985 and a Research Associate at the National Museum of the American Indian from 1983–1986.  She has been a Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History since 1981.  From 1986 to 1995 she was Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.  In 2003 she was awarded a George E. Burch Fellowship in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Sciences at the Smithsonian Institution.  Professor Buikstra has been a member of the National Academy of Science since 1987, and a Distinguished Professor at the University of New Mexico since 1995.  She has authored 153 publications since 1973, of which 15 are books or monographs.  Jane Buikstra’s exemplary interdisciplinary work in bioarchaeology in the field, in the laboratory, and in her published research make her a most worthy recipient of the AIA’s Pomerance Award.

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