8 questions for Kristin Sobolik
If you weren’t an anthropologist you would be:
My undergraduate degree is in biology and I worked for a neurophysiology lab. I was heavily into biochemistry and molecular biology classes and work, so I was thinking of that area for graduate school. But then I went on an archaeological excavation in the southwestern U.S. and the rest is history.
Little-known fact about you:
I love the show “Survivor.” It’s like an archaeological excavation except you get to vote out people you don’t want around.
Fondest UMaine memory:
There are so many, but by far the fondest was my first Anthropology Department Caning Ceremony (officially known as the Rexford St. John Boyington Memorial Walking Stick), which is given to a faculty member who has recently published a book. The cane gets passed around the department quite a bit. This particular ceremony was held at Sandy and Bobbi Ives’ historic home (the founder of the Maine Folklife Center who is now deceased) and it was beautifully decorated for Christmas with candles, mistletoe, tree, the works. It was our first winter in Maine and I was pregnant with our second child, Nick. I was in awe of the tradition and was finally realizing that all of the people in the department were actually as good and wonderful as they seemed on the surface. Sandy read the Rexford St. John biography in his wonderful, comforting voice and it brought tears to my eyes. I don’t remember who was caned that night, but I remember all of the subtle details of the scene.
Favorite place in Maine:
Pine Point Beach, all summer long.
Favorite place on campus:
The big maple tree out in front of Fernald Hall. It turns the most beautiful, vibrant red in the fall.
What inspires you most?
My colleagues. They are such a great group of individuals who highly value interdisciplinarity with regards to both research and teaching. Their important work inspires me to help provide a good academic foundation and vision for the future.
If you could invite one person — living or dead — to dinner, who would it be and why?
That’s easy: Charles Darwin – the man, the myth, the legend. The concept of natural selection is absolutely incredible and all-encompassing. I would want to talk about what he really thought was important in life, what he would want to focus on in the future. We know a lot about his past and what helped him develop his ideas, so I would focus on what he would foresee for the future and what is really important in life.
If your lab were burning and you could only save one thing, what would it be and why?
This is also easy. Assuming that all of the students were out safely, I would save the box of paleofeces. It is by far the most important thing in the room. Dozens of irreplaceable paleofeces are in that box – each one individually unique with an important story to tell, and none which can be replaced with either time or money.