James A. Bennyhoff Memorial Fund Award


Bennyhoff-for-NewsletterAward to support original research on the prehistory of California and the Great Basin, with special consideration given to projects emphasizing analysis of existing museum collections, those housed in regional repositories and/or those reported in inventories and reports which focus on: 1) the development, significant refinement and/or modification of time-sensitive typologies or seriation studies useful in identifying prehistoric spatial or temporal units, or 2) relating primary data to revision of existing culture historical taxonomic frameworks.

SCA student members are invited to submit research proposals for the James A. Bennyhoff Memorial Award. The award is intended to support original student research on the prehistory of California and the Great Basin.

Projects may involve more than one subdiscipline of anthropology and may have objectives beyond those of culture history; nonetheless, a significant portion of the study must involve direct work with artifacts or other primary source data (e.g., mission registers, historical/archival documents), and must show promise to enhance the scientific understanding of California and Great Basin prehistory. Research projects may involve preparation of a thesis, dissertation, or a formal refereed publication.

Funding from the award (up to $1,500) may be used by the recipient for any purpose directly related to the study; e.g., travel for the purpose of studying collections, photography, illustrations, graphics, radiocarbon studies, or obsidian analyses. Additional support is available to conduct up to 100 obsidian hydration readings (courtesy of Origer’s Obsidian Laboratory), up to 50 obsidian source analyses (courtesy of Richard Hughes at Geochemical Research Laboratory)and up to four AMS dates courtesy of the CAMS facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Complete proposals for the James A. Bennyhoff Memorial Fund Award must include all of the following. Incomplete proposals will not be considered.

  • Research proposal relevant to the studies of Dr. Bennyhoff
  • Detailed budget and justification, making full use of the award
  • Statement defining where the research will be presented and/or published
  • Schedule for conducting and finalizing research and presentation, not to exceed one year
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Letter of support from a faculty advisor

Proposals should include the general guidelines contained in the James A. Bennyhoff Award Grant Proposal Guide which are available here. Compliance with these requirements is critical to evaluating the award proposals. The James A. Bennyhoff Memorial Fund Award recipient will be announced during the 2016 Society of California Archaeology Annual Meeting banquet awards ceremony in Ontario.

You can find out more about James A. Bennyhoff and his influential contributions to California and Great Basin archaeology here.

Complete proposals in a PDF format should be emailed to Pat Mikkelsen, the James A. Bennyhoff Memorial Fund Award Committee Chair.

Any questions about the proposal process or award can be directed to the Committee Chair’s email address above or at 805.235.9747.



For 2018, and for the first time, the Bennyhoff Committee has chosen two winners of the James A. Bennyhoff Memorial Fund Award. Congratulations to Brain Barbier and Nicole Fournier!

Brian Barbier
University of California Santa Barbara

Photo courtesty of Brain Barbier


This project contributes to Dr. Bennyhoff’s legacy by expanding our understanding of interregional exchange in California. I investigate whether the early-Middle Period was a unique time of increased interaction between central and southern California. This project will employ: (1) comparative morphological analysis of Olivella beads from central and southern California; (2) stable isotope source analysis on a sample of beads; and (3) obsidian source and hydration analyses as an independent indicator of north-south trade at this time. Specifically, this study will address a significant and longstanding question: was there a robust exchange network that brought Chumash-made beads north, thus explaining why Olivella Saucers are the predominant bead form

in southern and central California during the early-Middle Period? Scholars, including Dr.Bennyhoff, have demonstrated that both regions used separate types of beads during the preceding and following periods, but the reason for this early-Middle Period synchrony of form is yet unexplained.

Nichole Fournier
Washington State University


Photo Courtesy of Nichole Fournier


The proposed study explores the impacts of climate and sociopolitical change on children from CA-ALA-329 (Ryan Mound). Components of this study include a diet reconstruction based on the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of bone and dental tissue from 47 individuals ranging from infancy to adolescence. These data, together with sex determination of each individual using genetic sex determination methods and osteological measures, will test the hypothesis that diets differed by sex. Another component includes dating methods (obsidian hydration and radiocarbon) and sourcing of obsidian artifacts. Their type and source will be used to evaluate the hypothesis that Ryan Mound became an elite burial site. Collectively, the proposed research will contribute new information on a collection once studied by Dr. Bennyhoff and provide knowledge on the social changes experienced by Bay Area populations, during and following the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA), from the frequently overlooked perspective of children.



Award Recipients:

2018 – Brian Barbier
2018 – Nichole Fournier
2017 – David C. Harvey
2016 – Gregory R. Burns and Susan D. Talcott
2015 – Allison Hill
2014 – (No award given)
2013 – Carly Whelan
2012 – Devin L. Snyder
2011 – Kristina Gill
2010 – Melanie Beasley
2009 – John Schlagheck
2008 – Terry L. Joslin
2007 – Donna Gillette
2006 – Elizabeth Sutton
2005 – Allika Ruby
2004 – Deanna Grimstead and Brandon Patterson
2003 – Shannon Tushingham
2002 – Alexander DeGeorgy
2001 – Kathleen Hull
2000 – Torbin Rick
1999 – Sharon McFarland
1998 – Eric Wohlgemuth
1997 – Rene Vellanoweth
1996 – Nelson Siefkin

View award-winning research designs

View Submission Guidelines