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Grants in Aid of Research Recipient Profile: Dawn Crawford

June 16, 2020

Dawn Crawford

PhD student Dawn Crawford received funding from Sigma Xi’s Grants in Aid of Research program to travel to Guatemala for her fieldwork.

Grant: $500 in Spring 2015

Education level at the time of the grant: PhD student

Research Discipline: Anthropology

Project description: I used the grant to support my travel to Holtun, located in the Petén district of Guatemala, where I excavated three structures in a household group as part of a pilot study related to my PhD dissertation. The project focused on a middle-class Maya household and how they responded to the economic challenges related to the Classic Maya collapse. Often the Classic Maya collapse is discussed as a period of instability and failure for the Maya as their political and economic systems fell apart, but my research instead focused on how the average person survived the collapse and was resilient in the face of such major changes. 

It appears that individuals living in this household group continued to import obsidian and make pottery for daily activities during the abandonment of larger cities in the region. This is significant because it shows that all members of Maya society, regardless of wealth and status, had an active role in their economic decisions during this period of instability. 

How the project influenced you as a scientist: This project facilitated the beginning of my dissertation data collection. It gave me the chance to set up connections and network for my larger dissertation project in Guatemala. It also allowed me to work with newer scientific techniques, like portable x-ray fluorescence, and develop skills useful for future research.

Where are you now? I am completing my dissertation and will graduate with my PhD in the fall of 2020 from Southern Methodist University. Because of this grant and a National Geographic Young Explorer grant, I was able to complete a pilot study that also led to additional funding, including a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation. I am currently working as part-time faculty, teaching archaeology to undergraduates while I finish writing my dissertation.

Students can apply for research funding from Sigma Xi's Grants in Aid of Research program by March 15 and October 1 annually.