Who Has Gotten National Science Foundation Archaeology Money, Interesting Results

Posted on March 10, 2014


Last week I presented data on National Science Foundation funding for the archaeology/Archaeometry programs and then I examined funds for archaeology projects outside of these programs. I also gave the raw data so anyone can check my results.

In that raw data are the listed Principal Investigators for each project. I took a look at that data to see if there were any ‘star’ principal investigators, at least for archaeology. This is based off of the Archaeology and Archaeology-related grants, not those that are only briefly related to archaeology (see here for discussion of the difference). Here are the top 20 performers in terms of amount won adjusted for inflation:

Name Number of Grants Amount Amount Adjusted for Inflation
David Cooper 3  $6,163,520.00  $7,505,860.75
Douglas Donahue 5  $3,970,971.00  $6,728,909.93
Michael Goodchild 1  $4,335,573.00  $6,062,437.45
T. Douglas Price 32  $3,849,165.00  $5,546,182.90
Curtis Marean 13  $4,088,408.00  $4,799,673.11
Herbert Maschner 13  $3,801,974.00  $4,641,398.79
John Olsen 2  $3,632,277.00  $4,600,276.46
Thomas McGovern 14  $2,776,953.00  $3,928,118.18
Jeffrey Dean 14  $2,575,639.00  $3,799,726.39
Ben Fitzhugh 9  $3,163,546.00  $3,774,314.26
Patrick Kirch 14  $2,743,912.00  $3,688,222.26
Michael Glascock 9  $2,656,024.00  $3,683,840.02
C Michael Barton 7  $3,095,406.00  $3,574,336.94
Jeremy Sabloff 8  $2,675,567.00  $3,395,257.44
Michael Hammer 5  $2,635,122.00  $3,258,779.73
Peter Kuniholm 8  $2,223,276.00  $3,166,214.10
Alexandra Barnett 1  $2,801,309.00  $3,147,382.30
Richard Potts 2  $2,427,584.00  $3,141,482.49
Timothy Kohler 6  $2,581,053.00  $3,083,456.06
Ronald Bailey 1  $2,081,018.00  $2,909,890.22

Now if you are interested in people with the most success in getting grants it might be good to look at the number of grants won. Here are the top 20:

Name Number of NSF Grants
Robert Drennan 41
T. Douglas Price 32
Tom Dillehay 20
Robert Blumenschine 16
Marc Bermann 16
David Meltzer 15
Thomas McGovern 14
Jeffrey Dean 14
Patrick Kirch 14
Jane Buikstra 14
John O’Shea 14
Donald Grayson 14
Curtis Marean 13
Herbert Maschner 13
Mark Aldenderfer 13
Michael Smith 13
Payson Sheets 13
Alan Kolata 13
Frank (Ted) Goebel 13
Michael Jochim 13

It is a nice long tail distribution, were there is one very successful person and the number quickly drops with lots of people getting a few grants. I took a quick look at the top five in terms of number of NSF grants:

Robert appears to still be conducting archaeology at the University of Pittsburgh- http://www.anthropology.pitt.edu/node/222

T. Douglas Price is now retired- http://www.anthropology.wisc.edu/people_price.php

Tom Dillehay is still working at Vanderbilt- http://as.vanderbilt.edu/anthropology/bio/tom-dillehay

Robert Blumenschine I think is still working at Rutgers but his profile has not been updated in a while- http://evolution.rutgers.edu/people/ches-associates/robert-blumenschine

Marc Berman, also at the University of Pittsubrugh is only an Associate Profession, unlike the others in the top five, but given his record with NSF grants it would appear he is likely to get full professorship in the future. http://www.anthropology.pitt.edu/node/217

If I was a PhD student or an early career researcher in the US these would be some of the people whose brains I would pick to find out more about putting in for NSF grants.

Women Are Under Represented

It is a shame but there is only one women in the top 20 in terms of number of grants. There is only one women in the top 20, in terms of money received, but she was the director of a space center and not an archaeologists. It does not get better when looking further down the list of top number of grant recipients. In the top 25, by number of grants, there is only one other women. Moreover, there are only 12 women in the top 50 though I discuss why that might be below.

Archaeology Blogger

A side note- Micheal Smith who is an archaeology blogger is also one of the top 20 in terms of grants.

Caveats to These Results

The data is only for successful bids. That means I don’t know if someone applied for 400 grants and got 15. This would mean percentage-wise they are pretty unsuccessful but would still appear to be successful. As discussed elsewhere, the data is pretty poor before 1978 and weak before the mid-1980s. That means the data is only for the last few decades. However, because it is for the last few decades those who have longer careers will appear to be more successful than those who have only recently began to apply for grants. There might be some very new PIs who are actually excellent at obtaining funding.

That also would explain, but only partially, the poor performance of women in receiving lots of NSF grants.  The gender ratio has only recently started to even out and there are still more men than women professors in the US. Once that is a more equal distribution we should see a more women PIs.

Edit- I meant to mention that PIs are also the faculty advisers for NSF PhD grants. So some of the grant numbers will be inflated by one’s PhD students getting grants. Though it is probably a safe bet that many have had some input to their PhD students grants.

As always here is the raw Data (in Excel):

NSF Archaeology PI

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