Erin Benson, a graduate student in the University of Illinois Department of Anthropology, conducts research with our Illinois State Archaeological Survey.
1. What did you want to be when you grew up?
All I knew when I was a kid was that I wanted to work outside!
2. What drew you to your current field of study?
I took Spanish in high school and at some point, maybe my sophomore year, we spent a couple weeks talking about the ancient Maya and the Aztecs. That was when archaeology first came on my radar as something I might want to do. I went to college for anthropology and realized there that there is a lot of really cool and important archaeology in the Midwest. My field experiences as an undergraduate sealed the deal that I would be a North American archaeologist.
3. What do you love about your work at PRI?
Working for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey is great because even though we are typically working within the constraints of contracts, we do such a wide variety of archaeological work that it is still possible to pursue individual research interests.
4. How will your work impact future generations?
This is not directly related to my research, but I really enjoy working with and mentoring undergraduate students who are really interested in archaeology. I have worked with students in the lab and field, and I think I have managed to successfully guide a few onto promising paths that will lead them to a careers as the future generation of archaeologists.