Thousands of students from across the globe have participated in the Center for American Archeology’s programs over the past sixty-plus years. From University field school students to Family Excavation Day participants, our alums are everywhere and we meet them at the airport, the grocery store, at professional conferences -you name it – on a regular basis! While not everyone who participates in our programs becomes an archeologist, they all leave Kampsville with a greater understanding of the process of scientific research and the rich prehistory of the lower Illinois Valley river region.

Jess Beck is one of our former students who is pursuing a career in archeology. Jess is an alumna of the Arizona State University Archaeological Field School (2011), and she is currently working on her doctorate in Anthropological Archaeology from the University of Michigan. She recently shared this update with us:

This summer I am conducting the second season of data collection for my dissertation: “Social Organization and Mortuary Practices at Marroquies Bajos, Spain.” My dissertation is funded by a University of Michigan Rackham International Research Award and a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant. My work uses multiple lines of evidence, including osteological analysis, isotopic analysis of diet, AMS radiocarbon dating, and an archaeological analysis of tomb form and grave goods, to examine how and why collective burials were used by Copper Age Iberian populations, and what such interments reveal about social organization in early complex societies. My osteological training at Kampsville through the ASU bioarchaeological field school, as well as subsequent research I have conducted, have been invaluable for developing the methodological skills and research design necessary for such a large-scale project.

We congratulate Jess on her accomplishments, and look forward to seeing the results of her research!

The CAA enjoys hearing from all of our alums, and we plan to feature more Alumni Spotlight blog posts in the months to come. Want to share your story? Send us an email at


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