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Postdoctoral Research

IAN RUGINSKI

Ph.D. Cognitive Psychology, 2018 - University of Utah

Applications of spatial cognition and visual perception, such as user-friendly data visualization design and evaluation, virtual reality, navigation and spatial cognition, emotional and social influences on perception and performance, and human-computer interaction.

Ian.Ruginski@utah.edu 

 

Ian is from Rhode Island (which yes, you can drive across in less than an hour) and did his undergraduate in cognitive science and religious studies at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. While there he researched navigation and spatial memory, working with Bill Warren at Brown University in an attempt to understand his terrible navigation skills. This interest carried him to Salt Lake, where he completed an MA and PhD in Cognitive Psychology, right here at the U. He joins Prof. Elizabeth Cashdan on an NSF-funded project “Age and Sex Differences in Spatial Cognition”, which implements converging measures of spatial cognitive abilities across several fieldsites in Bolivia (Tsimane), Ecuador (Shuar), Mexico (Maya), Namibia & Angola (Twe), and Tanzania (Hadza). Ian’s research interests lie at the intersection of navigation, spatial cognitive abilities, and emerging technologies. He also collaborates with computer scientists to assess the design and usability of data visualizations, and his dissertation found that GPS devices have adverse affects on spatial transformation and environmental learning abilities. When he’s not in the office, Ian and his wife Monica can be found rock climbing, hiking, or running around with their black lab Thor.

KATE MAGARGAL

Postoctoral Research Associate

Ph.D. Anthropology, 2019 - University of Utah

Fieldwork in the four-corners region of the US with Native communities reliant on firewood.

Kate.Magargal@anthro.utah.edu 

Kate's current research focuses on how human economic decisions contribute to ecological disturbance regimes. Most of her work focuses on this process in the prehistory of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau and employs archaeological and paleoecological data. She conducts fieldwork in the four-corners region of the US with Native communities reliant on firewood. Firewood, the majority of which is harvested from federal public lands, is an important resource for people living on the Navajo and Ute Mountain Ute reservations in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Many households in these communities rely primarily on firewood for cooking, heating, and ceremonial purposes. As part of an interdisciplinary NSF-funded project, Kate gathers information from firewood collectors and consumers in an effort to understand the relationship between socio-economic status, distance to woodland resources, cooperation, and other factors that contribute to how firewood use varies by household.

Kate also enjoys developing curricula that utilizes research as a teaching tool and is always on the lookout for new science outreach opportunities. She is currently developing such opportunities at the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa, a field station operated by the University of Utah near Moab.

Interests: Archaeology, paleoecology, ethnoarchaeology, palynology, Behavioral Ecology, ecological disturbance, anthropogenic fire, science outreach and education.

 Ben Davies

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ph.D. Geography & Anthropology, 2018 - University of Auckland

Mobility, population dynamics, and the formation of archaeological landscapes.

Ben.Davies@utah.edu 

 Ben grew up in New Hampshire and did his undergraduate in archaeology at University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. While there he did fieldwork in the Marquesas Islands and developed an interest in Polynesian voyaging and exchange. This interest carried him to New Zealand, where he completed an MA at the University of Auckland, modeling paleoeconomies in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. He stayed on at Auckland for a PhD split between Anthropology and Geography, where he used computer simulation to answer questions about late Holocene land-use from stone artifact scatters in arid Australia. He joins Asst. Prof. Tyler Faith on an NSF-funded project “Exploring the history of coupled climatic and human influences on ecosystem changes during the last one million years” in the Western Cape region of South Africa. Ben’s research interests lie at the intersection of mobility, population dynamics, and the formation of archaeological landscapes. He is part of several interdisciplinary projects, including building computer games for climate change adaptation in New Zealand’s communities, and using climate modeling to understand ancient seafaring. He is also an active member of the Computer Applications in Archaeology (CAA) group. Ben and his family are new to Utah, and are looking forward to spending lots of time outdoors, teaching their children to ski, and getting their old cat to get along with their new dog.
Last Updated: 6/3/19