Last week, the American Association for Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) held it's 83rd annual meeting... in Calgary! The anthropology department has been a whirlwind for the past few months as everyone has been preparing to host palaeoanthropologists, epigeneticists, primatologists, biological anthropologists and palaeopathologists (and every job description in between!) from universities across North America as they present new research, poster topics, and set the stage for the coming year. This was an incredible opportunity for our university, and I was so thrilled that they gave undergraduates the chance to volunteer at the event and attend all of the lectures.
It was mind blowing to sit in a room next to many of the people who I have cited and cited and cited again, and to hear them speak so passionately about their research and about the future of our discipline. It was inspiring to see so many young graduate students and post-docs talking enthusiastically amongst each other about skeletal morphology and implications of methylation or the primate vagina as a biome, and it was even more heartening to see everyone promoting the need for collaboration. One of the reasons I chose to pursue anthropology is because our department is fortunate to have so many vivacious instructors who always seem so keen to ensure that us, as students, are actually receiving a good education and coming out of a course with more than we put in (which, sadly, is not the case for all of the departments on campus). Learning that many of the people present at the AAPA meeting reflected this progressive view prompted me to rethink some of my hesitations and reluctance to continue certain graduate studies and came as a huge relief at the time when pursuing a Master's is a real possibility. There are so many exciting projects going on at every university, and as technology progresses it becomes even more feasible to understand our ancestral history and the connections that we have with our living relatives.
*I pre-wrote most of this immediately after the event, prior to some heartbreaking news from the University of Calgary that, while not directly affecting me, has greatly impacted the campus and community. In the following weeks I will try and finish this post but will likely take a brief hiatus from blogging until I feel appropriate.