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Dr. W. James Stemp Receives 2014 Faculty Award

Dr. W. James Stemp
Dr. W. James Stemp

Dr. W. James Stemp, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, received the 2014 Faculty Distinction in Research and Scholarship Award at Keene State College’s Faculty Appreciation Dinner in Centennial Hall on Wednesday, May 15. The award is intended to honor faculty members who have, over a significant part of their tenure at Keene State, engaged in research and scholarship that is recognized by their professional peers and that represents an effort above and beyond that required for promotion and tenure. The award has been given since 2000, and Stemp is the 12th recipient.

“I think for whoever gets this award it means that the work they are doing is recognized by their colleagues and by the campus community as important work,” said Stemp. “What I hope this does, not just for me specifically, but for other people who conduct research on campus, is help to emphasize why research and scholarship at a liberal arts institution like Keene State is important and why it is necessary.”

Originally from North Bay, Ontario, Canada, Stemp joined the Keene State College faculty in 2004. He earned his PhD in anthropology from McGill University, his MSt in Prehistoric Archaeology from Oxford University, and his BA in anthropology – with honors and an archaeology specialization – from Toronto University.

Over the years, Stemp, who has published 17 peer-reviewed articles in international journals, has been involved in countless archeological digs, including internationally recognized research and analysis of lithic technology (stone tools) from the Post-Classic and Historic periods of Maya civilization. He has also led a pioneering effort to develop experimental and theoretical tools for analyzing the wear of archaeological stone tools, in an attempt to reconstruct their use.

In 2013, he became a grants reviewer for the National Science Foundation in the Major Instruments Category and joined the editorial board for the peer-reviewed journal Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology. As an International Scientific Community Member, he organized two conferences on surface metrology, one in the US and one in France. He has additionally chaired numerous symposia and sessions at annual conferences for the Society for American Archaeology and Northeastern Anthropological Association.

Despite his boundless research productivity, Stemp has found the time to devote to research-related service that begins at home and spans the globe. While he has reached out to students at all levels, he has contributed especially to the growth of undergraduate research at Keene State. He served as a reviewer on the Undergraduate Research Grants Committee (2006-2009), sponsored a student at the 2006, 2008, and 2010 Academic Excellent Conferences, mentored a PURE (Program for Undergraduate Research Experiences) student, presented a paper at one regional and one national conference with undergraduate students, and co-authored a peer-review article with several former students. Sharing his expertise on undergraduate research, he presented a tutorial, “Undergraduate Research in the 21st Century,” at the 2011 Seminar on Surface Metrology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “Research is at the core of our lives. When you’re doing research you’re adding to this giant pool of knowledge,” said Stemp. “One of the responsibilities for college and university professors and teachers is that they have to contribute to that pool. If nobody did that, we’d have nothing to teach.”

“For the next generation that comes through, the current generation has to do research of some kind to advance knowledge and give them a platform from which they can move,” he added. “We’ve become a culture of immediate return, but there are clearly students out there, and I’ve worked with them, who do want to put in the time and who want to make the time to do this important work.”

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