UIC GEOGRAPHER HONORED
University of Illinois at Chicago geography professor emeritus Bruce Gladfelter has been named this year's recipient of a major award in archaeological geology by the Geological Society of America. The award recognizes what the GSA calls his outstanding contributions to the field.
He began teaching at UIC in 1970 and retired in 1999, but he still teaches one course in geoarchaeology each year.
While Gladfelter is not a geologist, he combined that discipline into his academic work.
"There is a little bit of irony in the GSA giving Bruce Gladfelter, a geographer and archaeologist, this award," said Lawrence Keeley, interim chair of the UIC department of anthropology, which includes a degree-granting program in geography. "There was not a lot of sympathy for this particular field among geologists when Bruce started out 30 years ago. So it is gratifying that this award comes from geologists."
Gladfelter calls himself a geoarchaeologist. He was educated as a physical geographer, a field that concentrates on studying surface land sediment and form since the time of the last ice age about a million years ago.
"I am a geographer, but I have been fortunate to collaborate with archaeologists from the beginning of my career and to be able to work at several highly significant sites here and abroad," said Gladfelter.
Keeley, who first met and worked with Gladfelter in 1973 while a graduate student at Oxford, calls his colleague a founder who remains preeminent in this increasingly important academic field. Gladfelter has published widely and conducted research around the world.
"More and more, government regulations everywhere call for 'rescue archaeology,' which involves academic study of development sites before any construction work starts. Every one of these major projects has to have a geoarchaeologist involved," said Keeley.
Gladfelter agrees. "When I began my career in geoarchaeology, it was exceedingly difficult to get federal or other funding for a geoscience component of an archaeological project," he said. "Now, it is exceedingly difficult to attract federal funding for an archaeological project that does not have a geoarchaeological component."
The award Gladfelter will receive is named for George "Rip" Rapp, Jr., the Regents' Professor of Geoarchaeology at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Rapp was the first recipient of the award in 1983, when it was known as the "Archaeological Geology Division Award" of the Geological Society of America. The award was renamed in 1993 in honor of Rapp's many contributions to the field.
Gladfelter will be presented with the award at the society's annual meeting this November in Boston.
Gladfelter said he was overwhelmed when he learned he had won the award and very honored to be recognized. "I am delighted and humbled to join the company of the previous recipients-a list that includes my mentor, Karl Butzer, who taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Chicago. The recognition has very special, personal meaning to me." Butzer is credited with coining the term geoarchaeology.
The Geological Society of America was founded in 1888 and has since become an international organization with nearly 16,000 members in 85 countries. It organizes scientific meetings and conferences, publishes scientific literature and, in general, works to heighten public awareness of geoscience issues.
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