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Otago star picked as editor for international journal

Tuesday 18 August 2020 10:48am

Sian-Halcrow full width image
Associate Professor Sian Halcrow.

A renowned Otago researcher has been named one of two new co-editors in chief for leading global quarterly journal Bioarchaeology International.

University of Otago Associate Professor Sian Halcrow, from the School of Biomedical Sciences’ Department of Anatomy, will fill the role for the next five years.

The flagship journal for the University Press of Florida, Bioarchaeology International was founded five years ago with a global scope. It provides rigorous peer-reviewed publication of articles related to the study of archaeological human remains and is the leading international journal in that area.

Associate Professor Halcrow is a palaeopathologist who has become a global name in bioarchaeology in recent years. She is a world-leader in the post-excavation analysis of bones, has forged a niche as an expert in the interpretation of child remains and recently co-edited a significant book drawing on that research, The Mother-Infant Nexus in Anthropology.

“As a student in archaeology and biological anthropology I would never have dreamed to be in the position of helping with the leadership of a journal this central to the field of social bioarchaeology."

Her path to the editorship of Bioarchaeology International was simple, she says – she was “shoulder tapped” by fellow new co-editor in chief Dr Gwen Robbins Schug, a professor of anthropology at Appalachian State University. Together they will supervise the overall quality of the intellectual and academic content of the journal, and oversee the review process to ensure it is high-quality and timely.

“Our plans for the journal include continuing to encourage quality submission through some streamlining of the admissions process, and expanding the diversity and representation of Editorial Board members.”

Despite an already hefty schedule of teaching, mentoring, research and writing, Associate Professor Halcrow says it won’t be hard to find the motivation for her new editor duties.

“This journal has a really important place in bioarchaeology. It helps in the steering of the direction of the field and the representation of the important work bioarchaeologists do, and I think that’s important. I’m particularly excited about encouraging papers from scholars who have been, in the past, underrepresented in the field.”

It is also a professionally prestigious role, she says.

“Journals are one of the most important ways we communicate our research and contribute to the development of the field. This journal is well-known for its high-quality peer review and scientifically rigorous and socially contextualised papers, which are leading the field of bioarchaeology.”

The responsibility and recognition the role brings have also served as a reminder of just how far she has come since her days as an archaeology honours student at Otago 20 years ago, she says.

“As a student in archaeology and biological anthropology I would never have dreamed to be in the position of helping with the leadership of a journal this central to the field of social bioarchaeology.

“The opportunities and successes I’ve had are largely the result of supportive mentors and peers from Otago and internationally, and I try to play this forward with my colleagues and research group.”

Associate Professor Halcrow’s role began in July this year and will run for five years.

Story by Craig Borley, Communications Adviser (Health Sciences)