by James D. Spirek
The exchange of goods, materials and ideas is a central human tenet. Sometimes these are obtained from next door or oftentimes acquired through long-distance travel by crossing continents or oceans. At the Society for Historical Archaeology’s annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, the commodity of exchange are ideas about the practices and principles in the discipline of archaeology. George Fischer, retired from the National Park Service and Florida State University, realizing an opportunity to promote the exchange of ideas and to bridge the distance gap for international students, created and endowed a fund to defray their travel expenses to the annual gathering of terrestrial and underwater archaeologists.The principle amount was also augmented by a generous monetary infusion by the PAST Foundation, a private organization devoted to developing educational opportunities for students.
Named in his honor, the George Fischer Student Travel Award provides travel support in the sum of $1,000.00 (USD) for international students studying maritime archaeology to attend the annual conference. Administered under the auspices of the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology, of which George was an emeritus member, the award advances an important goal of the board to support the professional development of students embarking on their nascent careers. This in turn furthers the overall mission of the ACUA to foster the growth and development of underwater and maritime archaeology throughout our watery world.
Since the inaugural award in 2012, five students hailing from the West Indies, Argentina, United Kingdom and Australia have benefited from the support to participate in the exchange of ideas at the annual conference. An exchange implies getting and giving, or a trade, and supported by the award, the student gets an opportunity to learn about current projects, technology and trends, and in return gives the membership an opportunity to discover practices and ideas from other regions of the world. Another benefit to the student and the membership are the connections and friendships made that may last a conference or a career. Besides completing a brief application packet, the successful awardee also commits to presenting a paper, typically related to their thesis or dissertation on an underwater or maritime archaeology topic. The most recent recipient of the award in 2016, Maddy Fowler, a doctoral candidate at Flinders University in Australia, presented at the Washington, D.C. conference on her dissertation focused on the maritime cultural landscape of indigenous people in southern Australia.
The ACUA board members encourage all eligible international students interested in attending the upcoming SHA conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA from 4-8 January 2018 to apply for this award. We look forward to receiving and reviewing a number of applications, and presenting the award to a deserving student and meeting them in New Orleans, along with all the other candidates, and hopefully for many years to come. George passed away in 2016, but his legacy of helping students to participate in the exchange of ideas at the annual conference continues on with this bequest named in his honor.
For more information about qualifying, applying and submitting for the student travel award please download 2018 Announcement ACUA Fischer Student Travel Award.
List of Award Recipients:
2012: Jean-Sébastien Guibert, University of French West Indies, Guadeloupe FWI
2013: Nicolás Ciarlo, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
2014: Amelia Astley, University of Southampton, UK
2015: Aleisha Buckler, University of Queensland, Australia
2016: Maddy Fowler, Flinders University, Australia
2017: Not awarded