Bree Doering, Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology, Awarded the NSF Dissertation Research Improvement grant and the Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork grant. She plans to use these grants to complete dissertation field and lab research within the next year. Doering answered questions via email below pertaining to the grants she received.
Is this your first time receiving a grant like these? If so, how does it feel?
These are the biggest and most competitive external grants that I have received, though I received a National Geographic Young Explorer grant for my pilot research. With Dr. Raven Garvey, I spent over a year designing the theoretical model that I proposed to test in both grants, so it feels extremely rewarding to have the funds to complete the research and validating to know that scholars in my discipline think my research can be important.
Your bio says you focus on central Alaskan pre-history. Can you tell us about your focus?
I am focused on the most recent period of ancient Alaskan life because it contains a wealth of untapped information that can help us to understand why humans move and change. Archaeologists in my region have generated lots of information about earlier periods that I can use to compare data from the last 2000 years of central Alaskan and Canadian history.
What led you to focus on central Alaskan pre-history?
I am from Alaska originally and I have always been amazed by the sheer strength of Alaska Natives and the dynamic Subarctic landscape they’ve thrived in for millennia. When I began my career, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work on many projects around the world. Nevertheless, my interest was always focused on the archaeology of the North because of the potential for us to develop our understanding of the dynamics of human behavior through the lens of the Subarctic. If we can understand what drives people living in one of the harshest environments on earth to change their behavior, we can model this in other places to inform our understanding of human behavior more broadly.
What do you hope to accomplish with your grants?
Why do humans move? What causes them to change? These questions are the basis of my interest in anthropology. My research is designed to refine our understanding of the late Holocene Athabascan transition in technology, subsistence and mobility, and the subsequent Athabascan migration out of the Subarctic and into the U.S. Great Plains. With the funds that I have received, I will collect artifactual, geophysical, and geochemical data to consider patterns in the archaeological record from this important time period. I will synthesize new and existing datasets from the broader region using a theoretical model to consider social and environmental explanations for this change. An improved understanding of this change will better illustrate what causes people to move and change their behavior, and demonstrate the benefits of applying the multi-scalar model that I have developed.
You mentioned doing fieldwork in other countries. What other locations have you done fieldwork?
I’ve done archaeology in Michigan, Alaska and Georgia in the US, and abroad in Egypt, Mexico, Madagascar, and Australia. But I keep going back to the frozen tundra!
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
I’m so happy that I can introduce people to the wonders of the Subarctic and the resilience of Athabascans through my research.