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December 16, 2013 — University of Wyoming Department of Anthropology Professor Robert Kelly was selected to present the Patty Jo Watson Distinguished Lecture at the recent American Anthropological Association (AAA) conference in Chicago.
The lecture honors an archaeologist who presents a seminal paper on a topic of his or her choice at the Archaeology Division's plenary session. Kelly’s topic was “The Abyss: An Academic Archaeologist Looks to the Future.”
He discussed what archaeologists who work in academia (as opposed to the federal or private sectors) might do to make the greatest contribution to research in light of shrinking funding, increased workloads and decreasing marginal returns to research efforts. Known for his creative lecture styles, Kelly delivered the lecture in a graphic novel format.
A past president of the Society for American Archaeology and past secretary of the Archaeology Division of the AAA’s Archaeology Division, Kelly has written more than 100 articles, books and reviews. Since 1973, he has worked on the archaeology, ethnology and ethnography of foraging peoples, conducting archaeological research in the western United States and ethnographic work in Madagascar. He has studied caves and rock shelters in Wyoming's Big Horn Basin and researched the archaeology of ice patches in Glacier National Park.
Earlier this year, Kelly received the Secretary of Interior’s Partnerships in Conservation Award for a project that uses ice patch archaeology and paleobiology to track climate change.