Who's who in Newark: Professor digs up prestigious and rare honor
Published: Monday, October 23, 2006
Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2009 05:07
Lu Ann De Cunzo cannot remember the precise moment she became interested in civilizations of the past, but she certainly can recollect a particular moment that has stuck with her through the years. "One of my first real memories is picking up arrowheads with my uncle in North Carolina," De Cunzo said. Her early love for discovering things from the past has translated into a career spanning more than 20 years. De Cunzo is a professor of anthropology and early American studies at the university and was recently elected President of the National Society for Historical Archaeology. De Cunzo will serve as president elect of the organization until 2008, when she will take full control of the position. "I was very nervous and excited when I found out that I was elected," she said. "The opportunity to lead the organization is very exciting, but everything that comes with it is also very nerve-racking." The group's current president, Douglas D. Scott, said he feels De Cunzo will be an effective leader for the organization. "Lu Ann and I have worked together on several issues over the last 10 months, and I've known her professionally for some years," Scott said. "She is a consummate professional and I believe she will be the best president the SHA has ever had." De Cunzo said she got her start in anthropology and archaeology afer obtaining her bachelor's degree from William and Mary College and her doctorate in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. De Cunzo has more than 15 years of experience in the field, and said some of her research has included a study of Mill Towns and their inhabitants in Patterson, N.J., along with other stops in Virginia and Pennsylvania. She said one of her most memorable archaeological moments was when she was working for the CLIO group in Philadelphia. There she led the excavation of the burial site of what once was a reform home for women in the 18th century, she said. De Cunzo said she cherished this opportunity to not only find out more about the women involved in the institution, but also to educate people about the situation of women and feminism in the 18th century. She said one of her biggest goals as president of the SHA is to continue this type of education and promote the true importance of historical archaeology. "Development and how to deal with it is one of the most pressing issues in our field today," De Cunzo said. "One of my goals as president is to educate about the dangers of development and also help to mediate the different viewpoints on it within the organization." Other goals De Cunzo has for the SHA include furthering the development of technological outreach of the organization and focusing more on international expansion. De Cunzo said the organization, which at one point only had 60 members, now has more than 2,000 from all over the globe. She said she hopes to establish more conferences and functions in all parts of the world. Before her election, De Cunzo said she served three years on the board of directors for the SHA and also worked as executive director for Historic Fallsington, a company based out of Bucks County, Pa. Currently, De Cunzo said she studies the colonial life of New Castle County, as well as farming life from the late 1700s. As De Cunzo embarks on her mission as president of the SHA, she said she hopes more people will become more informed about archaeology, the way it works and the way it functions. If this is fulfilled, De Cunzo said she feels she will have done her job. "I think that what people find fascinating about this is the connection with people of the past that people can see are like them in some ways," she said. "But it's the little differences that add to their fascination with archaeology as well, it's that connection with the past that's not so far away."