Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Emily Lena Jones

September 24, 2020

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Emily Lena Jones

Dr. Emily Jones is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology.A zooarchaeologist and environmental archaeologist, her research focuses on human-environment interactions, particularly human responses to climate change and landscape variability. She has worked in the Paleolithic of Southwestern Europe for over fifteen years.

What region of Latin America/Iberia do you study? Why?

I have been working on the Paleolithic archaeology of Iberia (both Spain and Portugal, but primarily Mediterranean Spain) for the past ten years, but in recent years I've begun working on the Spanish Colonial record of Latin America - primarily the 17th century here in New Mexico, but I'm also working with colleagues in Mexico, in Argentina, and I expect this project will spread to Central America as well.

What has been your path to becoming a professor?

If you'd told me when I was an undergraduate that I would become a professor, I would have thought you were crazy! I wasn't a very engaged student, and I was all set to work as an applied archaeologist outside the academy. I did that for a few years (working for a bunch of different places, including the Pueblo of Zuni) and then decided to go back to school to get my terminal Master's, so I could take on a supervisory position. Much to my surprise, I loved graduate school - and I discovered I loved teaching, too. So I stayed on for my Ph.D., and the rest is history :)

What motivates you in your current work/research?

I study the ways in which people relate to animals in different times and places, particularly introduced animals (like sheep, horses, and other Euro-Asiatic livestock across the Americas). This is a subject that has so many different sides: it's important for environmental management, it's important for people today, it's important for understanding history...I could go on and on. Every day I learn something new, whether from my own research or through working with students. I love this!

Please describe a Latin American/Iberian role model that inspires you. This can be a historical or contemporary figure or someone you know.

Oh wow, there are so many...I guess, if I have to pick, my answer would be my senior female colleagues in Spain. Until relatively recently, it was rare to be a woman archaeologist. My colleagues - women like Carmen Cacho Quesada - conducted amazing research despite many barriers, and at the same time have always had a hand out to support their junior colleagues. Now this generation is starting to retire, but their impact on the rest of us remains.

Please describe one piece of advice you have for young scholars in the field of Latin America/Iberia.

Work collaboratively! Depending on the field you are in /the particular things you study, collaboration may be easier or more difficult. But, no matter what your particular interest, there is so much to learn through international collaboration. It will lead you in directions you can't possibly predict before you start, and in my experience that has always been a good thing!