Oregon State University

Graduates Dr. Loren Davis

A brief word on graduate students and graduate studies:

Graduate studies in archaeology are a requisite step toward achieving greater levels of responsibility and intellectual productivity. Just as you would not attend a culinary arts school or a plumbing trade school to improve your education in archaeology, prospective graduate students should not take lightly their decision to attend a particular university without first considering the institution's available resources. First, and most important, prospective graduate students need to find an advisor who is currently working on research projects that not only stimulate their interests but represent the kind of work they themselves would like to pursue. If you are interested in the archaeology of the Maya, then by all means, find an advisor who is actively working on a particular aspect of Mayan archaeology that stimulates your desire to pursue an advanced education. Serious problems often arise when students make decisions to attend a graduate program mainly on the basis of geography, i.e., closeness to home, family, friends, significant other, without serious consideration of whether the graduate program actually offers the resources and advisors you need to realize your educational goals. So, before you make an application for graduate school at OSU or anywhere else for that matter, do your homework: read up on the kind of research a prospective advisor has worked on and is currently pursuing; think about how your interests match up with that prospective advisor's; work to clearly and thoughtfully articulate how your own educational and research interests might be best realized through studies at that institution, with that particular person.

The bottom line:
My graduate students work with me in the field and in the lab, mainly pursuing research questions related to the archaeology and/or geoarchaeology of the lower Salmon River canyon of western Idaho, the Oregon coast, and the Baja California peninsula. There are many kinds of research opportunities, tied to quality datasets, within each of these research areas. I fully expect that each of my graduate students will develop and pursue original research problems on a site, locality, or collection from one of my study areas. To me, the benefits of this approach are clear: students will receive hands-on training on a project that I know a great deal about; the logistical and bureaucratic aspects of the project are fully supported; students gain access to rich datasets associated with the study areas; projects in these areas are well funded. That a student would want to attend OSU to work with me to pursue a project I know nothing makes things difficult for the student and for me. More importantly, the advisor-student relationship is rendered ineffective in these situations, seriously diminishing the student's graduate experience.

Research Links

Geological Society of America's Archaeological Geology Division: http://rock.geosociety.org/arch/

Society for American Archaeology's Geoarchaeology Interest Group: http://www.saa.org/ForMembers/InterestGroups/GeoarchaeologyInterestGroup/tabid/153/Default.aspx

American Quaternary Association: http://www.amqua.org/

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