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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACT:   Polly Burks
561-297-2595, pburks@fau.edu

FAU Graduate Student Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

BOCA RATON (April 21, 2008) – Florida Atlantic University recently announced that Ronda Graves, an MA student in the department of anthropology in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, has been   named the recipient of a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship award to pursue doctoral study in biological anthropology.  The award is for $90,000 over three years.  Graves, who lives in Parkland, hopes to pursue her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in their functional anatomy and evolution program or at George Washington University at their Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology upon completion of her master’s degree this Spring.

“Ronda will be successful wherever her studies lead,” said Michael Harris, chair of the anthropology department at FAU.   “She is an excellent student and is always supremely well-prepared in whatever work she undertakes.   I fully expect to hear about her in the future, as she becomes a professional anthropologist.   I can’t think of a more fitting recipient for the NSF award.”

Graves’ interest in biological anthropology has its roots in her childhood when she was angered by the ethnic discrimination that she saw around her while growing up in Tennessee.  While in high school, she sat in on anthropology classes at a local university and became interested in how research on the common origins of humans could contribute to fighting myths of ethnic and racial inferiority.  From this experience, Graves was determined to contribute to these efforts through the study of human skeletal evolution.

After earning her associate’s degree in 1993, Graves postponed her education to work and raise her children. During this time, she was part of the team that developed the Interceptor Body Armor for the U.S. Military. In 2005, she went through a serious illness that required an extended recovery, an experience that made her even more determined to accomplish her original goals. Graves graduated from FAU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and social science and a minor in business. She is currently working towards and will complete her MA in biological anthropology in May.   In the summer of 2007, she attended FAU’s archaeological field school in Salango, Ecuador where she received hands-on training in the excavation of human remains. Excavating, processing and analyzing these remains reinforced a desire to research human skeletal evolution and the causes for ethnic differences seen today.  Graves will return to Ecuador in the summer of 2008 to complete her study.  

In her National Science Foundation application, Graves stated that her goals for future study are to increase the understanding of how evolutionary processes impact the human skeleton, improve quality of life for modern humans and contribute to the fight for a society devoid of ethnic discrimination.

For further information about FAU’s department of anthropology and its field study in Ecuador program, call 561-297-3230.

 -FAU -

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