Suellen Gauld “In every stone, in every bone unearthed, there’s the story of an individual: a ‘book,’ if you will. The people who learn to read the language of those ‘books’ are physical anthropologists.”

It was just after Faculty Orientation Day, and Suellen Gauld was still reeling from her flight home from Turkey. “I was close to brain-dead that day from jetlag. I kept thinking I was going to fall asleep in the middle of it all and I’d be outta here!” she recalls with a rueful laugh. But Suellen survived Orientation and will live another day to go back to Turkey or Peru or wherever her calling takes her to unravel the mysteries of humankind’s distant past.

“There are a lot of four-year colleges that don’t have a full-time physical anthropologist, and there are two of us here,” she says of her rare breed of scientist. “So we have a lot of depth and expertise to offer and I find that I ‘snag’ quite a few students; people who never thought about anthropology and who then set off to make their careers in the field.” With her PhD from UCLA—and endless patience—Suellen has been working on archaeological projects on an ancient Peruvian site and a Turkish dig dating back 8,000 years. But her most current explorations are in the classrooms of SMC.

“Human genetics and behavior, paleontology, primate biology: We study them all in my classes. A lot of students might think this is easier than biology—but they’ll wake up fast!” reports Suellen. “But I’ve found that SMC students are generally people who are motivated and have their sights set high. They’re aware of SMC’s excellent transfer rates, and they’re willing to work hard to get there. And that’s what I love about being a teacher here.”

SMC Anthropology Professor Suellen Gauld began full-time at SMC in Fall ’99. Welcome!

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.