ABF Postdoctoral Fellows (2012-2013) Activities and Research

In the fall of 2012, the ABF Postdoctoral Fellowship program at The Field Museum offered fellowships to two archaeologists, Drs. Shannon Martino and Sirma Alexandrova, for one academic year. The research of both scholars is focused on Bulgarian and Balkan archaeology. The ABF Postdoctoral Fellowship is sponsored by the America for Bulgaria Foundation, and its purpose is to improve Bulgarian archaeological infrastructure by encouraging young specialists to use innovative techniques; provide them access to the museum’s library, collection, exhibitions, and grants; and give them additional opportunities they may not have in Bulgaria. The program also aims to improve international collaboration in science by developing strong and useful partnerships between Bulgarian archaeologists and those from other countries, including the U.S. During their residence at The Field Museum, the fellows are able to work on their own research projects and use the museum’s facilities and resources to enhance their investigations. In addition to their empirical and theoretical work, the fellows are involved in different types of events, including museum lectures, seminars, and conferences, and they actively engage in the local Bulgarian community in Chicago.

Recently, both ABF Postdoctoral Fellows gave talks about their work to their colleagues at the museum. These talks were part of a lunchtime anthropological lecture series at The Field Museum that aims to familiarize museum staff with the research activities of their colleagues.

Dr. Sirma Alexandrova’s lecture was held in late February and was entitled, “Archaeology in Bulgaria.” She discussed the country’s rich historical past and highlighted its most significant archaeological sites. In the beginning of March, Dr. Shannon Martino gave a presentation entitled, “Local Variations of an Interaction Sphere in Anatolia during the 5th-4th millennium BC.” The talk focused on her preliminary findings regarding the use of graphite as a decorative technique in both Bulgaria and Turkey and the difficulties in recognizing graphite without more detailed scientific analyses. Her future work will incorporate such analyses using The Field Museum’s portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analyzer and Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) laboratory.

Soon, Drs. Martino and Alexandrova will give talks to their colleagues at The Field Museum to report on the results of their current work at the museum. The two young scholars are also planning to participate in the Bulgarian Days of Chicago Festival on April 21, 2013, where they will be introduced to the Bulgarian community in the city. They will have the opportunity to discuss the importance of Bulgarian archaeology and cultural heritage with the public, and they will highlight the contribution that their personal postdoctoral research and overall research activities provide to the development of humanitarian science in Bulgaria. In doing so, the fellows are seeking to increase awareness about the importance of the Bulgarian national heritage among the Bulgarian population in Chicago and the U.S., more generally. All of their activities are contributing to increased transparency and promotion of the ABF Postdoctoral Fellowship program at The Field Museum and the support provided by the America for Bulgaria Foundation.