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Starting next Monday, we are privileged to host Dr. Linda Perry, one of the world's leading experts in the incredibly important, yet arcane, field of Archaeobotany, e.g., what were Aztecs granted as their last meal before being offered up as a midnight snack to Huitzilopochtli? Did Nicolas Cage really enjoy a honeybun before his demise in "The Wicker Man?" No, seriously ... Dr. Perry is a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Archaeobotany, the study of the relationships between plants and our ancestors. She is a former Smithsonian Fellow, Research Collaborator, and Research Associate, and has been working with archaeobotanical samples for more than fifteen years. She holds degrees in biology, botany, and anthropology (!), and has been teaching in the fields of biology, botany, environmental science, archaeology, and anthropology for more than twenty years. Linda's work incorporates archaeobotanical analyses into ancient contexts to gain insight into the behavior, organization, and development of past societies. To study these subjects, she employs many methods including microfossil analyses of microscopic residual remains of plants extracted from both artifacts and sediments, macro botanical analysis of larger fragments of plant remains, and wood identification. Apart from ongoing research projects in the U.S. and China, Linda's current focus is the Foundation for Archaeobotanical Research in Microfossils, a 501©(3) organization she founded with the long-term goal of creating a dedicated space where archaeobotanical researchers can access state-of-the-art equipment, engage in peer consultation, and seek formal training (www.fossilfarm.org). Our first question will be coming from José Andrés. Okay, I'm teasing, *but* I am very proud to say that Linda is one of the main cogs of donrockwell.com: she is our Calendar Girl, singlehandedly responsible for recording all of DC's important restaurant and food events into our outstanding calendar. Do you see now why the calendar is so good? We have a genius running the damned thing. (Members, while you're thinking about it, before you read any further, please take a moment to record your birthday in your profile so it, too, will be in our calendar - if you don't do it now, you never will.) Our members are scary-smart, and Linda is one of the scariest and smartest. Please feel free to begin with any questions you'd like, no matter how crazy or obscure you think they are. I'll start by asking Linda a couple questions. First, a softball: does Archaeobotany have accents on syllables 1 and 4, or 2 and 4? I'm guessing the former, as in archaeological. Now, what, exactly, do you do during a typical day? Do you stare at microscope slides of fecal matter preserved in amber, trying to figure out the dietary habits of obscure hominids? (I tagged this thread as I did for a reason.) Feel free to mention something from your Research Interests on your CV (*), if that's where your passion fruits. I'm sorry. Could you give us a couple real-life examples of things that you've recently been working on, so we laypeople can get a solid, mental grasp of this difficult-to-understand line of work? And thank you in advance for being with us (and thank you endlessly for doing such an amazing job on the calendar). I really think this is going to be one of our most valuable chats. I have no idea whether or not it will be immediately popular, but I couldn't care less - it's important, and it's going to have a permanent home here where it will be lovingly curated until the ends of time. (*) PS - I once got hammered at Gatsby's at SIU-Carbondale.
"A Chat With Linda Perry - Archaeobotanist" with Linda Perry on donrockwell.com Should we get together and nominate Linda for a James Beard Award next year? Based on my own sorry history with being submitted for the awards, including having submitted the only great piece I've ever written, I don't have a chance, but maybe someone other than me will win.