Jaclyn Eckersley, College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences
Meet Jaclyn Eckersley – one of BYU’s current graduate students pursuing her MA in Anthropology. Jaclyn started her graduate program in 2014 and completed her course work in 2016 with a perfect 4.0 GPA. After taking six months off to travel to England with her husband, she is now engaged full time in her MA thesis research.
What is Anthropology? Anthropology is a study of peoples, cultures, and their development through time.
How Jaclyn stands apart: Jaclyn’s committee member describes her as ". . . a very good student, largely self-motivated, who is doing interesting research and is far enough along in the program to be deeply into her thesis research.” Since her research involves trying to understand why people did things in the distant past through a combination of roughing it in the desert looking at archaeological sites, and using data you need a nuclear reactor to obtain, I think it really does embody the sort of graduate experience we want to convey to prospective graduate students, and others. . .”
Description of research: Jaclyn is studying the Ancestral Pueblo occupation of Beef Basin, a remote area in San Juan County, Utah, north of the Abajo Mountains and within the newly declared (and controversial) Bear’s Ears National Monument. The area is peripheral to areas south of the Abajo Mountains that were densely occupied by Ancestral Pueblo people from the AD 500s through the late 1200s. Beef Basin itself was unoccupied until the 1100s, when a relatively large number of people moved into the area. Her thesis research involves a combination of field work to document archaeological sites in Beef Basin and analysis of ceramic collections from previous archaeological research in the project area.
Research Impact: Jaclyn is trying to understand the timing, scale, and reasons why people moved into the area, and the relationships that people living in Beef Basin had with other people who resided in surrounding areas.
Research Techniques: One part of her thesis research (not yet completed) will use data from a high-tech analysis of Beef Basin ceramics using neutron activation analysis (which will be outsourced to the Archaeometry lab at the University of Missouri research reactor). Neutron activation analysis involves irradiating pieces of pottery to make them radioactive, then measuring the radioactive decay to determine their chemical composition. The compositional data from Beef Basin ceramics will then be compared to local clays and to ceramics from surrounding areas to determine where the pottery used in Beef Basin was made and whether people living in Beef Basin maintained trade connections with people living south of the Abajo Mountains."