STEM Shoutout: Dr. Frances Hayashida

Anthropology professor receives Fulbright Award to continue research in Chile’s Atacama Desert

UNM Professor Dr. Frances Hayashida is a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award for the fall of 2018. This award will allow Hayashida to teach at the Universidad de Chile and continue her anthropology field work in the Atacama Desert.


Hayashida, along with her Chilean and Spanish colleagues, will continue to co-direct an archaeological research project on late pre-Hispanic water management and agriculture in the hyperarid, high-altitude Atacama Desert of northern Chile.


Along with the support of the Fulbright Scholar Award, Hayashida’s research has also been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (Chile), the Spanish Ministry of Culture, and UNM’s Latin American and Iberian Institute.


“The funding we have received to date is important to me because much of it has come from programs directed towards fostering international collaborations… We and our students have all benefited from working together and bridging our differences in background, training, and ideas,” Hayashida said in an email.


Hayashida and her team’s research at the Atacama Desert reveals how the late pre-Hispanic indigenous population have successfully managed scarce water to be able to farm and flourish within such a hyperarid environment for over centuries.


“This knowledge is of academic and general interest particularly as we face increasingly drier climates in many parts of the world,” she said.


Hayashida’s collaborative, interdisciplinary research includes: documenting, mapping, and dating canal and field systems and settlements; collecting information to reconstruct past environments; studying ancient soil management; as well as studying ritual features that help us understand the ethics of water and land use in the past.


“Our project is a true collaborative effort where the four co-directors jointly make all decisions, which is at times difficult but is also extremely productive and rewarding,” Hayashida said.


The Fulbright Scholar Award will take effect fall of 2018 and will allot four months of teaching and field work in the Atacama Desert for Hayashida.