The Anthropology Symposium

Four months after my last post, I’m here again to write something of a swan song for the DR@ISU blog, as I was among the Spring 2016 candidates for graduation this past weekend and will be leaving our department shortly. That said, it has been a great pleasure to take on a personal project as my last one here, uploading the latest installment of the Anthropology Symposium onto the DR website. As an anthropology student, I have been personally involved in presenting and organizing the symposium since its inception, and so I have been very excited at the prospect of finally uploading this year’s proceedings onto the library website. Including both poster and podium presentations from all three of our subdisciplines taught at Iowa State University – biological, cultural, and archaeological anthropology – it is my hope and the hope of our faculty that in the future this symposium’s presence in the DR will serve as a useful instructional tool, as well as allowing our presenters to carry their research with them wherever an internet connection exists.


Screenshot of the “Anthropology Symposium” event community in DR@ISU.

In my first year here at Iowa State, my home department began a symposium to highlight student research and to give our students an opportunity to present in a conference setting, hopefully preparing them for their later professional and academic careers. Although I have been involved with this program for the entirety of its duration, it was only this year that I was successfully able to help bridge the gap between my workplace and my academic home. During the planning meetings I brought up the Digital Repository and the valuable role it could serve for our department, and during work-hours I talked with our coordinator about the details of getting symposium proceedings uploaded and what our options might look like. Although it became our first uploaded event, the fourth symposium looked much like the previous ones. It had two sessions of podium presentations, one showcasing archaeological and biological research, and the other containing sociocultural presentations. This year, the keynote was delivered by Dr. Grant Arndt, professor of cultural anthropology and American Indian studies on his research with Ho-Chunk powwows. Before him, keynotes had been presented by our other seasoned faculty, including Dr. Jill Pruetz, Dr. Matthew Hill, and Dr. Maximilian Viatori. Afterwards, a poster salon and reception concluded the event, allowing both undergraduates and graduates to have another mode of delivering their research, which ranged in breadth of scope from South African gentrification, to language-trained bonobos, to genomic analysis in forensics.

Even though much of the mechanics of this project were the same as any other I’ve undertaken, there was something different about taking on a project so close to my own academic life. It has been very satisfying to make my last project one which benefits both my work environment and my academic environment. As I leave both areas to move on to the next stage of my life, I hope I can look back on this and see that it started a ball rolling to help bring both areas closer together. In parting however, there are many people I want to thank. Thanks to my supervisors Hope Mitchell and Harrison Inefuku, and to all the other people I have worked with in Parks Library. Thanks to Kate Simmons who helped to organize the first symposium, and to Drs. Stacy Lindshield and Grant Arndt, who have helped continue it. And thanks to all the students who have participated in the Anthropology Symposium, past and future.

Ben Spick

Benjamin Spick is a recent graduate of Anthropology and Religious Studies. They began working with the Digital Repository in November 2012. Their future plans are to seek work in student affairs and advising before pursuing graduate studies.


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