Meet Amy Garrett!

Amy Garrett
Amy Garrett



























Amy Garrett won the first-place award for the Social Sciences and Management category in this year's Graduate Student Research Symposium. Her winning poster is entitled Osteological Analysis of a Late Woodland North Carolina Ossuary: The Piggot Site (31CR14), Carteret County, North Carolina.

Originally from Danville, Virginia, Garrett earned her bachelor's degree in Anthropology at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. But she chose NC State to pursue her graduate studies and entered the Master's program in Anthropology, with a concentration in bioarchaeology. Garrett graduated in May with an M.A. degree and is currently teaching at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham.

Garrett says that she picked NC State because the university is one of the few ". . . in the country that specializes in bioarchaeology (the study of the human skeleton in archaeological contexts). Bioarchaeology is a sub-field within Physical Anthropology that is difficult to get specialized training in, especially in the United States." Consequently, limited opportunities made NC State her top choice.

Physical anthropology and archaeology had been her interests since she could remember. Garrett says that when people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she'd tell them that she wanted to be an archaeologist! When she found the graduate program at NC State, Garrett was able to make her aspirations a reality.

Garrett's graduate research focused on a late prehistoric archaeological site in Carteret County on the North Carolina coast. Known as the Piggot site (31CR14), the site contains ". . . a Carolina Algonkian ossuary, a communal burial in which individuals from an entire population are deposited collectively. Within ossuaries, bones from numerous individuals are randomly intermixed, so it is hard to tell who and how many individuals are represented."

The goal of Garrett's research was to determine how many individuals are represented and the overall demographic characteristics of the ossuary, including age, sex, and health of each individual. The results showed that ". . . the site contained a large amount of people (about 120), most of whom were children and elderly individuals. The mortality distribution coupled with pathological data suggests the ossuary may represent a Carolina Algonkian population experiencing the first wave of disease from European contact."

Garrett hopes that her research will provide a better understanding of prehistoric Native American life within North Carolina, as well as throughout North America as a whole. "Most of our knowledge concerning these peoples originates from ethnohistoric records from the first European settlers, and the lack of supporting archaeological evidence is surprising. My research helps document Native American life (archaeologically) without the bias inherent in European accounts, and also illustrates the effects of European contact on Native North America."

And she is no stranger to presenting her research at various symposiums. In fact, she finds symposiums one of ". . . the most gratifying aspect of my graduate studies. It's my opportunity to present and share my work with fellow researchers and also to engage the public." Garrett's advice to future presenters is first and foremost to know your audience. With experience, she says that she has learned to tweak her poster, as well as 'elevator speech', to accommodate specific audiences. The trick, says Garrett, is to be confident and captivate your listeners!

Garrett says that her favorite pastime is running with her dog, Nelly. She says that Nelly is a 'great running buddy' -- and they both enjoy the trails around Lake Johnson. She also enjoys hiking, fishing, and camping. Garrett, her boyfriend, and Nelly (of course!) celebrated her graduation with a big camping trip at Ocracoke!

Click here to view archived Graduate School stories.