Adjunct Feature: Dr. Erica Dziedzic

Dr Erica DzedicDr. Erica Dziedzic is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, who has taught for the department several times. At the young of 8, Erica decided she wanted to become an archaeologist and made it a reality in August of 2016 when she received her doctorate from our department under the guidance of Dr. Lynne Goldstein. Early during her collegiate career, the love for archaeology had her gravitating towards anthropology because of its ability to answer questions about human behaviors by focusing on cultural groups rather than individuals. The way in which groups of people use art to convey information sparked her curiosity as a child because we have been creating art for thousands of years. She believes, as do many, that it is an integral part of our humanity. This sentiment continues to drive both her research and teaching.

Dr. Dziedzic’s dissertation research focused on the organization of geometric designs on Andean ceramic vessels. Using the archaeological record as a tool to explore the cultural messages encoded within art and design, her dissertation allowed her to analyze the information these designs offer us regarding human interactions with their environment. Her research interests still closely align with this, focusing on art and design as forms of communication that can be relayed through the mortuary archaeology of prehispanic, Andean South America.

The creativity of art and forms of design carries over into her work on campus. Dr. Dziedzic employs the creative processes and the exciting opportunities that present themselves in academia in her pedagogy and utilizes the dynamic work environment of the MSU campus to invigorate both her teaching and research endeavors. Through teaching, Dr. Dziedzic engages with anthropology in innovative ways, tailoring her classes to the students’, often first, experiences with anthropology. Why are people interested in anthropology as a field and what drives them to want to learn more about it? Engaging with her students offers a way to answer these questions and has ignited a newfound passion. Had she not had the opportunity of being an adjunct lecturer, she would have never known how much she loved teaching.

Dr Dzedic in Peruvian lab

Dr. Dzedic working on ceramic analysis in Peru

Dr. Dziedzic says The Department of Anthropology at MSU prepared her for a successful career by allowing her to take each new professional step, one at a time. Large research and writing projects can be daunting, but Erica feels that her mentors worked with her at each hurdle to break the overwhelming into small, manageable parts. The advice she received from her advisors continues to help her find a balance between career (research, travel, teaching) and family.

Eventually, Dr. Dziedzic plans to explore the role perception plays in how humans process and transmit information through art forms and behavioral patterns through interdisciplinary teamwork. Over the course of the summer months and the coming year, we should look for several articles from Erica about ceramic form and design.