INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

Thank you Autumn Painter, outgoing Campus Archaeologist:

Autumn Painter, Campus Archaeologist

As we say goodbye to outgoing Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter who, in her two years in the position, continued CAP’s legacy of creative outreach, education, and mitigation while also profoundly shaping the future of the program, we welcome in a new Campus Archaeologist and a cohort of new and returning graduate fellows.

Campus Archaeologist:

Photograph of Jeff Burnett sitting, hands clasped, at a table.

Jeff Burnett: Jeff (he/him/his) is a third-year Ph.D. student in the department of Anthropology. After two years as a CAP fellow, this fall Jeff begins his first term as the Campus Archaeologist. His research focuses on the archaeology African Diaspora in the 19th and 20th centuries and using community-based practices to explore the intersections of class and race in the construction, maintenance, and memorialization of place and space in the United States. This year Jeff will be working with other fellows on their projects, helping to rethink our outreach in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and studying the archaeological and historical presence of children on MSU’s campus.

Campus Archaeology Program Graduate Fellows:

Photograph of Benjamin Akey looking down at an artifact in their hands.

Benjamin Akey: Benjamin (they/them/theirs) is a second-year doctoral student and graduate research assistant, with a focus on North American historical archaeology. They received their BA in Anthropology from University of California Santa Cruz in 2018, where they wrote a thesis on identity formation and the (re)production of consent for capitalist modes of accumulation through patterns of alcohol consumption in the Santa Cruz lime industry. They currently focus on the intersection of company-town labor regimes and the formation of specific radicalized, classed, and gendered identities among Japanese-American communities in the early 20th century. Benjamin joined CAP as a fellow in Fall 2019, and is particularly looking forward to continuing to develop outreach skills, doing archival research, and report writing.


Photograph of Jack Biggs crawling out of the mouth of a cave.

Jack Biggs: Jack (he/him/his) is a seventh year Ph.D. candidate, specializing in Biological Anthropology and is a returning CAP fellow (after a year hiatus). His research is focused on the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica and how their cultural ideas of age, identity, and cosmology intersect and record themselves within their bones and teeth. As a big proponent of using 3D technologies to teach and show others about MSU’s cultural heritage, Jack is hoping to use this skillset to bolster CAP’s digital outreach during the current COVID-19 crisis so that anyone can have access to the rich history beneath our feet.


Photograph of Rhian Dunn hand-mapping at a table.

Rhian Dunn: Rhian (she/her/hers) is a second year biological anthropology doctoral student, focusing in forensic anthropology. Her research interests include human variation and improving aspects of the biological profile (i.e., human identification). Rhian is starting her second year as a CAP fellow and hopes to continue getting more experience in archaeological surveying and with identifying historical artifacts. She is also interested in public outreach and archival data used to provide context for archaeological work. 


Photograph of Emily Milton with a camera in front of a vista of the Atacama desert.

Emily Milton: Emily (she/her/hers) is a second-year dual-degree doctoral student in Anthropology and Environmental Science and Policy. Her research combines archaeology and paleoclimatology to study how human use of mountain landscapes has changed since the last ice age. This is Emily’s first year as a CAP fellow. She is excited to engage with CAP’s existing public outreach events by helping to transfer in-person experiences online.   


Photograph of Amber Plemons using a total station to take measurements of a coffin.

Amber Plemons: Amber (she/her/hers) is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology, focusing in Biological Anthropology. This is her third year serving as a CAP fellow. Her research focuses on understanding the causative forces of human variation in craniofacial morphology, specifically the impacts of climate and genetics. Amber assisted in building a database for CAP artifacts recovered and housed at Michigan State University and aims to continue to improve and modify the database and prepare a public searchable front end for the database this year. Additionally, she will continue her work with the Girl Scouts organization to teach the future women of archaeology by creating an online platform and help with other CAP duties, such as site research, report writing, and researching the history of minorities on MSU campus.

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