Dr. Amanda Tickner is a librarian specializing in GIS in the Maps Library and an Adjunct lecturer in the Department of Anthropology. Amanda helps people find data, use GIS in research, teach GIS to beginners, and troubleshoot GIS problems, she also sits on several PhD committees in Anthropology. The interdisciplinary quality of her GIS work allows her to help people from all disciplines, which dovetails well with her anthropological background. Dr. Tickner received her PhD in archaeological paleobotany from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 2009 and began at MSU in 2015.
Currently, Dr. Tickner is transitioning from using her anthropology background as a paleobotanist to working with more cultural subjects. She is very interested in using ethnographic methods in usability studies via contextual analysis, which she can do as a part of her job as a GIS librarian. Amanda is also interested in landscapes more generally – especially people’s perceptions of virtual spaces in relation to physical spaces. Regrettably, she has not been able to do much of her own research since switching career paths because her library work takes up most of her time.
Dr. Tickner enjoys her current positions because librarians are helpers and her adjunct position with anthropology allows her the ability to share cultural references with people who speak her own language. It also allows her to help students in a variety of ways. Amanda finds it satisfying to help people succeed in their projects and to gain job skills because she can teach interested people new skills without the pressure of giving grades, something she feels is a wonderful change. Dr. Tickner’s current work builds upon her previous experiences because her background in both ecology and social science allows her to work with a wide variety of disciplinary problems in a coherent and helpful way. This is important because it allows her to help people with GIS research from all departments, from English to Forestry.
Her first interest in anthropology came from a fascinating World Archeology course from Prof. Peter Wells at University of Minnesota, where she studied for her undergraduate. While this course was initially selected to fulfill a requirement, Dr. Tickner soon realized she really enjoyed this subject the most. Grinning while studying for World Archaeology became a norm. This enjoyment led her to value a holistic approach in her thinking and understanding which anthropology also values. Amanda’s interest in both the sciences and the humanities kept her firmly in archeology, since it is a wonderful hybrid of these things.
When Dr. Tickner was starting out, and in her past anthropology teaching (historical ecology, food and culture, and four fields anthropology), she was very interested in getting students to break down their ideas of a nature/culture dichotomy and recognize that humans are as natural as anything else in the world, while at the same time acknowledging our role in shaping our natural world. This is a value she hopes she has imparted in her students. Now, Dr. Tickner enjoys hearing from students that her assistance helped them finish their master’s thesis or that skills she taught them in a workshop helped get them a job. Currently, she is excited about the new digital scholarship lab in the library as she has had a lot of fun working with the 360 immersive display space and looks forward to helping more classes use it.
We are extremely happy to have Dr. Tickner here at MSU and are glad that she decided to move across the country even though Michigan winters are not her favorite thing. Having grown up in Minnesota, Amanda thought maybe she would be able to handle winter better now that she is older, but so far, she reports this is not the case.
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