SCA Student Awards


2018 Winners of SCA Student Awards. Scroll down for details.

The James A. Bennyhoff Memorial Fund Award

Award 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.

2018 Awardees

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.

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The Charles E. Roziaire Award for Student Research in California Archaeology

The award supports undergraduate or graduate student research in California archaeology that includes a significant fieldwork or collections component. Funding from the award is intended to help pay for the various costs associated with fieldwork or analyzing an existing curated collection and/or for preparing the materials for long-term curation. The award is to promote original research on the history or prehistory of California.


Funding from the award (up to $2,000) may be used for fieldwork or collections expenses directly related to the study. These include travel to and from the field or museum; lodging, camping, and food to support a field crew; data collection; and/or the purchase or maintenance of minor field equipment (i.e., items under $300 such as shovels and screens). Expenses may also include initial stages of laboratory analysis associated with preparing the collection for further study and curation (e.g., illustrations or casting of artifacts, assistance with artifact or ecofact identification, purchase of curation supplies such as boxes or bags). Expenses not allowed include salary or stipends to field participants, tuition, or purchase of equipment over $300.

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Joshua D. Nowakowski
Chico State University

Winner of the 2018 Charles E. Rozaire Award for Student Research in California Archaeology

Photo courtesy of Josh Nowakowski


My Master’s thesis in Anthropology at CSU Chico will utilize a curated assemblage from CA-BUT-294 to develop a more research-focused curation strategy for archaeological collections. This research will integrate my current scholarship in museum studies with my past experience working in archaeological collections. My research goals are to assess the types of data that can be gathered from curated collections, and to explore the implications of this data gathering for the long-term storage and treatment of archaeological materials in museum collections. Accession 32 is an assemblage resulting from excavations at the Wurlitzer site (CA-BUT-294) by CSU Chico’s archaeology staff between 1969 and 1971. The site is located on private land and documentary evidence supports a personal interest in the site by the landowner and members of the local community. The assemblage stored in CSU Chico’s Archaeology Collection is composed of material from the excavations by CSU Chico as well as artifacts donated by the landowner, who had been collecting artifacts on his property for years prior to the excavations. The collection contains chipped stone (chert, basalt, quartz, and obsidian), ground stone, modified and unmodified shell, faunal remains, and botanical samples. All artifacts were cataloged and inventoried upon entry into the permanent collection, and these records were subsequently digitized by staff as digital databases were implemented at the university. Little research has been done on the assemblage since its initial excavation.

Outstanding Student Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting

Giving a paper or poster at the SCAs? Don’t miss the opportunity to win money, prestige, a banquet ticket, and more! Submit your paper or poster by March 1, 2017, to the SCA Student Paper Competition. Papers should be submitted as e-mail attachments to the SCA Business Office at Please indicate “Student Paper Competition” in the e-mail subject line. Also please include the name of a faculty advisor in the email. Submission guidelines may be found here. Poster submissions should include all relevant files in full layout.

Noel Jones and Katherine Jorgensen
Chico State University


Shell beads have been categorized into typologies to serve as chronological markers, analyzed to determine prestige and wealth, and identified for their economic purposes; yet their value in determining craft specialization and cultural transmission has been largely overlooked. This paper aims to examine statistical signatures of shell beads from Central California sites to trace the evolution of production knowledge. It is proposed that low variance among beads of a type would suggest learning through direct bias, which could indicate craft specialization. High variance would suggest learning through guided variation, which may indicate multiple areas of bead production.

Cultural Transmission: Production Centers Visible in Shell Bead Artifacts from Central California