Friday, May 3, 2013

Jill Scott, Student Liaison to the AAPA Executive Committee and BANDIT FB mod!

My name is Jill Scott and I am a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Iowa (where I also received my MA). I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for my BA in Anthropology, and prior to that, I received my AA at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, IL.

It is my pleasure to write this post as the current American Association of Physical Anthropologists Student Liaison to the Executive Committee. What this means is that I am the only student representative on the AAPA Executive Committee. While students make up a significant portion of the AAPA membership and presenters at each annual meeting (and by significant, I mean at least half), there is a dearth of student representation within the organization. The AAPA Executive Committee realizes this, and hence, wanted to increase the voice of students in the AAPA. As such, one of my first official acts was to create an AAPA ad hoc Student Committee, that is, a committee run by students, for students. Even if you are not a student representative or don’t serve on a committee, there are ways to get involved in the AAPA other than presenting. The reasons for students to get involved are many.

“If you want to assume a leadership position in the AAPA, start early.”
These words are not directly my own, but are paraphrased from a faculty advisor I heard tell this to her own students when encouraging them to attend the AAPA Business Meeting, and I think they’re particularly appropriate here. 

Yes, networking at the meetings is important, and something that we all hopefully already do. However, there are activities at the meetings (other than hitting the bar with our friends after a long day of talks and posters) that are also important to learning how the organization functions, which is useful for all members to know. The simplest way to get informed is to attend the AAPA Business Meeting. I myself never attended in the past because I thought it was some kind of “secret society” that only full (i.e., non-student) members were allowed to attend. After all, they vote on resolutions at the business meeting, right? Right, but I can tell you that as a student member, it’s YOUR duty to vote on these resolutions and proposals too! 

I am happy to report that this year I attended the AAPA Business Meeting after having been explicitly told that it’s open to ALL members. And I am even happier to report that I actually found it INTERESTING (then again, I am a huge nerd, but I hope that we all are!) At the business meeting, each member of the Executive Committee and all Committee Chairs give a very brief report of their activities over the past year. This includes a report from the AJPA and Yearbook editors (including some useful tips on how to get published in each), a recap of how much money was made at the AAPA Auction (which is useful to know because that money goes to fund OUR student awards), and brief reports from Wenner-Gren President, Leslie Aiello, and NSF Biological Anthropology Program Chair, Carolyn Ehardt. Both of their reports reflected the current statuses of their respective funding agencies along with some useful tips on how to get funded. In short, the business meeting is full of all kinds of benefits, but you have to be present to reap them!

For many of us in biological anthropology, the AAPA is our primary professional organization, yet you may have no idea how it actually operates (I didn’t until I began interacting with the Executive Committee over the past year). Unlike some of our “sister organizations” (e.g., the American Anthropological Association and the Society for American Archaeology), the AAPA has no permanent, paid staff. The AAPA is entirely volunteer-based, other than some of the work that we outsource (e.g., membership is managed in part by Allen Press- the website where you log in to become a member or renew membership). As such, I have learned that there are several AAPA committees on which one can serve. Presently, many committees are served only by full AAPA members, as is stipulated by the association bylaws, but there are opportunities for those of us who are still students as well.

I am here to tell you about some of the opportunities available to graduate (and undergraduate) students in the AAPA, some of which you may be aware of, some of which you may not unless you carefully read every word of the “Call for Papers” every year.

·         Attend the Business Meeting! Friday evening of the meetings.
·         AAPA Student Liaison to the Executive Committee: This position was started in 2012 and lasts for a 1 year term from one year’s meetings to the next (i.e., my official term runs from 2013–2014). The call for applications goes out in the annual “Call for Papers” and the applications for next year’s Student Liaison will be due September 15, 2013.
·         AAPA Student Committee: This was just founded at the meetings in Knoxville, so I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be doing yet, but Sarah Livengood (BAS Student Rep) and I have discussed holding a workshop of some sort at the 2014 AAPAs. If you are interested in serving on this committee and have ideas you’d like to see us accomplish, please contact me!
·         Reviewer for the Undergrad Research Symposium: For the last several years, the AAPA Committee on Diversity has hosted the Undergraduate Research Symposium on Wednesday evening prior to the Opening Reception. As part of this Symposium, graduate student volunteers review the undergraduate abstract submissions. Check the “Call for Papers” to find out how to volunteer to be a reviewer!
·         Career Development Committee Panel: Each year the Career Development Committee (CDC) hosts a panel on issues pertinent to students and early career bioanthropologists. This year’s session focused on tips for landing a job, next year is scheduled to discuss applying for grants, and other years the panel has discussed issues related to teaching and “non-traditional” jobs for physical anthropologists. I would highly recommend attending these panels!
·         PA WMN Luncheon/Happy Hour: Again for the past several years, the Physical Anthropology Women’s Mentoring Network (PA WMN) has hosted a luncheon (for which registration is required) for young females in the field to sit down and discuss important issues with more established women in the field. The PA WMN also hosts a happy hour open to all women in the field to come chat about issues faced by women in physical anthropology.
·         BANDIT Happy Hour: If you’re reading this blog post, you should already know that BANDIT holds a happy hour that students are welcome to attend to discuss issues pertinent to students and early career physical anthropologists!
·         Apply for Student Awards! The AAPA has a variety of student awards available for student research presentations (podium and poster), some of which are sponsored by or co-sponsored with the American Association for Anthropological Genetics, the American Association of Anatomists, and the Dental Anthropology Association. Even if you’re not presenting, you can still apply for funding to attend the meetings via the William S. Pollitzer Student Travel Award. This year, the AAPA awarded 43 Pollitzer Travel Awards and this number has only been increasing! Again, check the “Call for Papers” to see when applications for student awards are due each year!
·         Volunteer to Chair a Session: Remember when you register to present at the AAPAs and you’re asked if you’d be willing to chair a session? Well, yes, you can do this as a grad student! But remember, you have to be comfortable with stopping people at 15 minutes, including all the big wigs in the field, so if you’re not comfortable with this, this is not the position for you!

Opportunities for student involvement are ever increasing in the AAPA, so I hope that you will consider getting involved. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any additional questions, suggestions, or would like to volunteer for the Student Committee!

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