January 7, 2021, Santa Rosa, CA – Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Department of Behavioral Sciences’ anthropology instructor Nicole Slovak, PhD., is one of 26 community college instructors in the nation to receive a 2020 Mellon/ ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) Community College Faculty Fellowship. The Fellowship is one of the only grants of its kind specifically recognizing community college instructors and the role they play in academia. The Mellon/ACLS Fellowship provides a stipend of up to $40,000 to scholars in the humanities and social sciences to support their research endeavors.
Dr. Slovak is committed to working with archaeological museum collections that have been largely neglected by researchers and which need analysis. She received this fellowship to continue her work at the Field Museum in Chicago, where she has been reconstructing a one thousand-year old burial collection from Ancón, Peru one of the largest pre-Columbian cemeteries in the Peruvian Andes.
The Field Museum’s Ancón mummies and their associated artifacts were excavated in 1891 by George Dorsey, a PhD candidate at Harvard University. Over the last century, the deceased individuals have become separated from the grave goods that were buried with them. Dr. Slovak’s project aims to reconnect mummies with their burial contexts, thereby restoring critical aspects of these individuals’ identities.
“I think we have a responsibility to take care of museum collections already excavated that have never received proper analysis,” said Dr. Slovak."
Dr. Slovak has been on sabbatical during 2020 to finish her analysis. Pandemic conditions, however, altered her original plan to research at the museum over the summer. Instead, Dr. Slovak has used her leave to digitally access Ancon collections at the Field Museum and other institutions around the world. In January 2020, she published an article on the first phase of her research in Nawpa Pacha, a peer-review journal dedicated to Andean archaeology. She plans on returning to the museum when the time is right.
“It feels more important than ever that we recognize honors such as the Mellon/ACLS Fellowship when they happen so that people around this nation and in our own community recognize the accomplishments of women in academia have made. Equally important are the contributions that Community College instructors make to the academy and to the lives of the students they touch,” said Dr. Slovak.
Portrait photo credit: Elena Halvorsen
Artifact photo credit: Nicole Slovak