Two American Museum Of Natural History Anthropologists Elected To Prestigious Science Academies



Charles S. Spencer


Charles S. Spencer and Elsa M. Redmond, both of the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, were elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, respectively. Both scientists specialize in the anthropology, archaeology, and history of South and Central American societies.


"The Museum is proud to have such outstanding scholars as Dr. Spencer and Dr. Redmond here contributing to our leadership role in anthropology and, in this case, New World archaeology," said Michael J. Novacek, Senior Vice President and Provost of the Museum and Curator in the Division of Paleontology.


Dr. Spencer, Chairman and Curator in the Division of Anthropology, was one of 72 influential leaders chosen for membership by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) at the 144th annual meeting of the Academy in Washington, D.C. The NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a Congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the NAS to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. Other members of the NAS from the Museum include Robert Carneiro and David Hurst Thomas, both Curators in the Division of Anthropology.


Dr. Spencer is an internationally renowned anthropological archaeologist specializing in the origins of hierarchical societies and the rise of the first political states in Mesoamerica, where he has been conducting fieldwork for more than 25 years. His focus is the Oaxaca Valley and surrounding regions, a mountainous part of southern Mexico that is home to the Zapotec people. He is also widely recognized as a leader in the application of evolutionary theory and socio-political concepts to the study of prehistoric cultural change and has formulated a mathematical model of pristine state formation.


Dr. Spencer received his B.A. in anthropology from Rice University in 1972, followed by his M.A. in 1976 and Ph.D. in 1981, both in anthropology, from the University of Michigan. He was an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut before joining the Museum in 1991 as Associate Curator in the Department of Anthropology and became Curator in 1994. Dr. Spencer is also an adjunct associate professor of anthropology at Columbia University.



Elsa M. Redmond


Dr. Redmond is a Research Associate in the Division of Anthropology, and was elected as a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as part of a class that includes former Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the Academy has elected as Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members some of the most influential leaders and thinkers from each generation. The current membership includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners. Other members of the Academy from the Museum include President Ellen V. Futter; Michael Novacek, Senior Vice President and Provost of Science and Curator in the Division of Paleontology; and Dr. Spencer.


Since 1972, Dr. Redmond has conducted extensive field research into the formation and evolution of societies in Venezuela and Mexico's Oaxaca Valley. For her doctoral research, Dr. Redmond carried out a regional survey of the environs around the Oaxaca Valley to test the hypothesis that the Zapotec Indians conquered the CuicatlCa between 2,100 and 2,300 years ago, as suggested by inscriptions at Monte Alb


In the 1980s, Dr. Redmond investigated the origins of mound-building chiefdoms in the western plains (llanos) of Venezuela. Through regional surveys, as well as mapping and excavations at seven sites in the high llanos and forested Andean piedmont, she helped establish a sequence to describe the development of warring and trading chiefdoms in the region around the sixth century.


Dr. Redmond received her B.A. in anthropology from Rice University in 1973, followed by her M.Ph. in 1976 and Ph.D. in 1981, both in anthropology, from Yale University. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in anthropology at the University of Connecticut, Yale University, Hunter College (CUNY), and Columbia University. In 1991, Dr. Redmond became a Research Associate in Anthropology at the Museum.

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