Zooarchaeologist, University of Exeter

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Who you choose to work with is so important. The subject may be your passion, but finding people who will support you is crucial.

Carly Ameen

What do you do?

My research revolves around studying animal bones recovered from archaeological sites to better understand human-animal-environmental interactions over the past 10,000 years. I use a variety of methods, including 3D modeling and molecular analysis, to investigate not only what people ate, hunted, and domesticated, but also about how species behaved in the past and what that means for those species in the present.

Why did you choose this field?

I had always been drawn to archaeology and anthropology, but it wasn't until I began my masters that I met some amazing archaeological scientists who got me hooked on zooarchaeology. I was fortunate to get involved with a project investigating the origins of the domestic dog, which eventually formed the basis of my PhD. It was being surrounded by such smart, passionate people, who were motivated not only to understand the past, but how that information can be used to inform on the present that inspired me to continue as a zooarchaeologist.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Doing a degree abroad really challenged my perspective not just on archaeology, but more broadly on life. This really wasn't presented as a possibility when I was choosing a University, despite the popularity of the semester 'studying abroad'.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love the fact that I get to work on ancient material and find new ways to interpret this finite resource that connects us to the past, but also can challenge our perceptions of today as well as our plans for the future. Animals have been essential to human life for millenia, and I am dedicated to ensuring that (zoo)archaeology plays a significant role in addressing modern problems facing humanity. Seeing how my work can influence modern policy decisions such as rewilding initiatives and conservation efforts makes me excited to go to work every day.

Best advice for next generation?

Who you choose to work with is so important. The subject may be your passion, but finding people who will support you, help you grow and lift you up is crucial. Try not to get caught up in the reputation of a University, a lab, or an individual scientist, because if you surround yourself with the right people, your success will take you everywhere you need to go.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated. Science, for me, gives a partial explanation of life.” - Rosalind Franklin

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