Cotsen Institute alumnus BRENDAN BURKE named Mellon Professor in Athens

Brendan Burke, who received his PhD in archaeology from UCLA in 1998, has been named to a three-year appointment as Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Classical Studies at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Burke is currently professor of Greek and Roman studies at the University of Victoria, Canada.

STELLA NAIR honored by UCLA Center for the Study of Women and Center for 17th– and 18th- Century Studies

Stella Nair, associate professor of art history and core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute, has been awarded significant honors by two UCLA centers. She has been chosen for the 2021–2022 joint Research Excellence Award for UCLA Associate Professors by the Center for the Study of Women and the Institute of American Cultures. The award consists of a monograph manuscript workshop (or equivalent) to secure continued excellence in scholarship by UCLA professors at the associate level while addressing questions important to the fields of critical race and postcolonial studies, as well as gender, sexuality, and ethnic studies. The organization will bring specialists together on campus to review and discuss Nair’s book manuscript, “Inca Architecture and the Daughters of the Moon.”

In addition, Nair and Paul Niell, associate professor of art history at Florida State University, have been named by the Center for 17th- and 18th- Century Studies as 2022–2023 Clark Professors at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library for their project “The Forgotten Canopy: Ecology, Ephemeral Architecture, and Imperialism in the Circum-Caribbean and Trans-Atlantic World.” Nair and Niell will organize the Core Foundation Program, which includes a series of three conferences that will draw scholars from across the world to study the intricate relationships between colonialism, ecologies, and building practices in the early modern world. According to Nair this will also provide research and financial opportunities for graduate students.

To learn how to support our research and education in archaeology and conservation, or for more information, please contact Michelle Jacobson at

STEPHEN ACABADO addresses Indigenous erasure in Philippine pre-Hispanic history

Stephen Acabado, associate professor at the Department of Anthropology and a core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute, has published the essay “Prehistory” 500 Years of Indigenous Erasure on the Inquirer website. Acabado will assume the directorship of the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies on July 1, 2021.

CÉLINE WACHSMUTH awarded Conservation Institute grant

CÉLINE WACHSMUTH, a graduate student in the UCLA/Getty MA Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, has been awarded a “Take a Chance” grant from the Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC). The award will be used to help fund her thesis research. “It is truly exciting that Céline was awarded this grant,” commented Glenn Wharton, chair of the Interdepartmental Program in Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials. “This highly competitive grant is awarded to imaginative and innovative research in cultural heritage conservation. Céline’s research on green solvents for consolidating ceramics fits the bill. During lockdown, she pivoted to perform her research at home, rather than in our labs. Her work is perfectly suited for archaeological field conditions without filtered ventilation and solvent recycling systems,” he explained.

According to Vanessa Muros, director of the Experimental and Archaeological Sciences Laboratory at the Cotsen Institute, who has worked closely with Wachsmuth, the award is especially notable because Wachsmuth is the only UCLA/Getty student that has received it for their MA thesis. The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and the FAIC work together to promote the preservation and protection of cultural heritage. The “Take a Chance” grant offers support to help defray costs for innovative conservation research or projects that may not otherwise be funded. According to the guidelines, preference may be given to applicants who have considered how their project could benefit an underserved community or little known/worked on factor of cultural heritage.

Wachsmuth is looking at green alternatives to the treatment of low-fired ceramics with chemical solvents. Little has been published on ceramic consolidation treatments, and with her research, Wachsmuth hopes to gain an understanding of current practices through a professional survey and assessment of the utility of selected water-based consolidants through experimentation. She will also engage in dialogue with some source communities on when treatment is appropriate in order to provide a holistic view of conservation intervention.  She has an internship in Alaska beginning this summer and will return to campus in January, 2022.

To follow the research Wachsmuth has been doing at home during quarantine, check out her Instagram page at: For information on how to support our research and education in conservation and archaeology, please contact Michelle Jacobson at

ANNE AUSTIN awarded grant from ARCE

ANNE AUSTIN, who received her PhD from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA in 2014 and is currently assistant professor of anthropology and archaeology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has been awarded a grant from the Antiquities Endowment Fund of the American Research Center in Egypt. The one-year grant was for her work on  “Conservation and Documentation of the Human Remains at Deir El-Medina.” Austin is also an editor and contributor to the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology.

ERNESTINE S. ELSTER featured panelist in celebration of Marija Gimbutas

Ernestine S. Elster, an associated researcher at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, was a featured panelist at a conference of the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies at the University of Washington, to be held remotely on Friday, April 30 at 9 a.m. PST. The panel discussed “Feminist Anthropology of Old Europe: Celebrating the Centennial of Marija Gimbutas.” Gimbutas (1921–1994) was a professor of archaeology at UCLA and internationally renowned for her study of the arrival of the Proto-Indo-European languages and culture in Europe. Elster was a graduate student of Gimbutas and participated in four of her archaeological expeditions. She is currently the director of the Mediterranean Laboratory at the Cotsen Institute.


STELLA NAIR discusses colonial legacy of dispossession of indigenous culture in the Andes

Stella Nair participated in a YouTube series on the intersections between current events and research at UCLA, sponsored by the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Her topic was “The Colonial Legacy of Dispossession of Indigenous Lands, History, and Material Culture in the Andes.” Nair is associate professor in the Department of Art History, and a core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute, the American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program, and the Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies at UCLA.

MATEI TICHINDELEAN Named Bedari Kindness Summer Fellow

Matei Tichindelean, a graduate student in archaeology at the Cotsen Institute, received a 2020 Summer Fellowship from the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute. The $6000 award was given to help with research pertaining to his PhD research, which investigates cooperation strategies between mobile and sedentary populations in ancient and early-modern Egypt. His application highlighted the different ways that this includes acts of kindness and how these are often employed and preferred to violent or coercive acts.

The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute is an interdisciplinary organization dedicated to research, education, and translational applications addressing the factors that promote or hinder kindness, at scales ranging from the interpersonal to the international, where kindness is broadly defined as the intention to benefit another party, such that the promotion of another’s welfare is an end in itself. The Graduate Summer Fellowship Program-supported scholarship can take the form of either a novel contribution to knowledge (such as a paper to be submitted for publication) or a plan to generate such knowledge (such as a proposal for a thesis or dissertation, or a grant proposal to be submitted to a funder). The focus can be either basic research, or translational projects that leverage existing scholarship to achieve real-world results.

SARAH MORRIS featured on Women in Greek Archaeology panel

Sarah Morris, Steinmetz Professor of Classical Archaeology and Material Culture in the Department of Classics at UCLA and core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute, was a featured speaker on a panel held by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. The five-person panel was comprised of women who have all directed archaeological projects in Greece and focused on how to promote gender equity in directing field work.

View the panel here.

TOM WAKE quoted in Smithsonian news article on DNA extraction from shells

A February 23 Smithsonian news article describes the work of scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama who successfully extracted DNA from marine shells using a method modified from the approach typically used to extract DNA from human skeletons. They were able to refine their technique using 1000-year-old shells from a trash midden at Sitio Drago, an archeological site in Bocas del Toro, which is investigated by Tom Wake. Wake is assistant adjunct professor in the Department of Anthropology (UCLA), a core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute, and the director of the Zooarchaeology Laboratory (the Bone Lab).