Alumni Award for Undergraduate Academic Achievement in Anthropology
Major: Anthropology, with a minor in biology
Research interests: Gleason is interested in gene-culture co-evolution and large-scale cooperation. She plans to investigate how cooperation “scales up,” especially in high-stakes scenarios like warfare. She is also interested in the evolution of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Inspiration to pursue her field: Gleason was inspired after listening to a guest lecture by School of Human Evolution and Social Change Assistant Professor Sarah Mathew, whose research examines humans’ ability to cooperate with millions of genetically unrelated individuals, and how that ability relates to the origins of morals, prosocial behavior, norms and large-scale warfare.
“I thought the entire topic was really interesting and had important implications. Additionally, with my military background, I saw a way to connect what I had already done to future ideas,” Gleason says.
Accomplishments: Due to her incredible work ethic and dedication to research, Gleason was singled out by the SHESC Undergraduate Committee as the graduating student who best exemplified academic excellence this year.
She was also selected for the NSF Fellowship because of her “demonstrated potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise,” says Dean Evasius, NSF division director of graduate education.
In addition to assisting Mathews with her research, Gleason has worked extensively with various faculty, including Assistant Professor Chris Morehart in the Paleoethnobotany Lab recording the historical use of plants by the Maya, and with Professor Bill Kimbel in the Institute of Human Origins managing the digital archive.
She is also a research assistant on the projects of Dr. Hillary Lenfesty, Dr. Bailey House and Dr. Matt Zefferman.
What’s next: Gleason says the NSF grant and Alumni Award will help with her current and future financial constraints, allowing her more time to focus on her research, rather than worry about other distractions in her life.
“I am extremely grateful to have received these two awards and know they will help me tremendously as I progress through my career,” she says.
After graduation, Gleason plans to remain at Arizona State University for graduate school and work with Mathew, as well as SHESC Professor Robert Boyd. One day, she would like to become a professor.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalist
Major: Double-major in anthropology and geology
Research interests: Norwood is interested in reconstructing paleoenvironments to understand the context of human evolution.
Accomplishments: Norwood has won many previous awards, including two NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates and several from ASU institutions. During her undergraduate career, she’s done a variety of research on Mesoamerican archaeology, comparative urbanism, prehistoric Southwestern ceramics, oceanic nitrogen cycles and paleoecology. She also helped establish the “Ask an Anthropologist” resource while working at the ASU Institute of Human Origins. In her spare time, Norwood has served as a volunteer for the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Pueblo Grande Museum, as an elementary school student mentor at the Tempe Public Library, and as the president of the Undergraduate Anthropology Association.
“I am probably most proud of the diversity and robustness of my research, as well as my work getting children and the public excited about science and mentoring the SHESC students who have come after me,” Norwood says.
What’s next: Norwood will go on to pursue her PhD in biological anthropology at another prestigious university.
Cynthia Lakin Award
Reynold Ruppé Prize in Archaeology
Program: Anthropology PhD candidate, archaeology approach
Research interests: Snitker researches prehistoric uses of controlled fire, settlement history and environmental change using methods such as geoarchaeology, archaeological survey, GIS modeling and landscape/fire ecology. He is currently working in Valencia, Spain to investigate early farming communities’ origins, evolution and agricultural use of fire.
Accomplishments: Snitker’s recent work, “Identifying Natural and Anthropogenic Prehistoric Fire Regimes through Simulated Charcoal Proxy Records,” was named the year’s best paper in archaeology authored by an ASU graduate student. In the past, archaeologists’ ability to study how past peoples managed landscapes with fire was limited by the scanty record of tiny charcoal particles. Snitker solved the problem by developing a computer model, CharRec, which allows researchers to generate expectations for different fire-use scenarios that they can compare to observable data.
What’s next: After graduation, Snitker will continue his research on man-made fire and landscape change though either academic or governmental employment.
Phillip Mason Thompson Award
Program: Anthropology PhD candidate, sociocultural approach
Research interests: Bleam studies “sense of place” and other aspects of the human-environment relationship.
Accomplishments: Bleam was awarded as the year’s most exceptional graduate student in sociocultural anthropology. His dissertation work is a partnership with the local McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit that manages Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The project explores how engagement in conservation volunteerism helps foster a sense of place for residents, particularly retirees. Read the ASU Now article on his work.
What’s next: Bleam’s goal is to continue in academia as a professor while also remaining engaged in community-focused research.
Donald H. Morris Award for Outstanding Doctoral Student in Bioarchaeology
Program: Anthropology PhD candidate, bioarchaeology approach
Research interests: Alonzi uses isotopic analysis, or biogeochemistry, to study where ancient people lived and how they may have moved to new areas during their lifetimes.
Accomplishments: Alonzi was recognized as the year’s most outstanding graduate student in bioarchaeology. She is currently in Ireland on a Fulbright Student Research Award, where she is collecting samples for her dissertation, which investigates the mobility of monks and lay people who were buried in early- and late-medieval Irish monasteries. She will analyze around 100 individuals from five different sites that date from the ninth to 16th centuries. She is also working with Irish researchers to create a radiogenic strontium isotope baseline from Irish plant samples, which they will use to better understand human isotopic data. Read the ASU Now article on her work.
What’s next: Alonzi hopes to continue her research uncovering Irish history.
Donald H. Morris Award for Outstanding Doctoral Student in Evolutionary Anthropology
Program: Anthropology PhD candidate, evolutionary anthropology approach
Research interests: Lazagabaster is interested in the paleoecological and paleoenvironmental reconstruction of fossil hominin sites.
Accomplishments: Lazagabaster was named the year’s most outstanding graduate student in evolutionary anthropology. His paper, “Inferring diet from dental morphology in terrestrial mammals,” was published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution last November. He and his research team created a new method – the multidimensional multi-proxy dental morphology analysis – which can tell which one of eight different diet types a given mammal had based on the physical characteristics of its teeth. His work has applications for ecological, paleoecological and evolutionary research.
What’s next: Lazagabaster plans to remain in academia and apply for post-doctoral positions.