The 2008/09 CAS project leader is the alumna of the month for April 2018.
Charlotte Damm, a professor at the University of Tromsø - The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), served as a project leader at CAS during the 2008/09 academic year. Her project, Early Networking in Northern Fennoscandia, looked at the development of regional hunter-gatherer-fisher societies in northern Finland and Scandinavia, focusing on the period between 6000 BCE and 1600 CE.
Nearly a decade later, Damm is hard at work with her latest research project on Stone Age demographics, funded by a FRIPRO grant from the Norwegian Research Council.
Damm looked back on her stay at the Centre in an interview last month.
Why did you apply to CAS?
It was actually something of a coincidence. A department leader encouraged me to apply. At the time when I applied, there wasn’t that much awareness of the opportunity in Tromsø.
Much of my research takes place in the Cap of the North in the Arctic. Applying to CAS was an opportunity to put together a group across those international borders -- to sit and work together when normally you’re each working in a different country. It can be a lot more difficult to get together when you’re all based in the North.
What do you remember best from your year at CAS?
This wonderful opportunity to work in peace, undisturbed by all kinds of administrative tasks. And how my colleagues who participated in the project really enjoyed how they could engross themselves in their work over a longer period of time -- not just a morning here and an hour there, but weeks at a time. We received fantastic support from the administration that really helped us focus on our work.
How has your career developed since your stay at CAS?
I feel that the stay further internationalised my own research and grew my contact network. Several of the fellows from outside of Norway have said they feel the stay at CAS created more international awareness of their research, which has helped further their careers.
It also contributed to my spending a couple of years in Ireland [as professor of archaeology at the National University of Ireland Galway]. And my FRIPRO project, which I’m working on, is built on some of the work that took place at the Centre.
Beyond that, I would say the stay initiated a partnership that that has led to different projects that continue to run today. The collaboration across borders has been incredibly rewarding.
What advice do you have for future CAS project leaders?
We had a couple of seminars in the years leading up to our stay at CAS, and I was really pleased with how the group members got to know one another. I felt that we did a great job preparing, which was a huge benefit to me as the project leader. I will say that it took more time to administer the group than I had imagined. Maybe I could have done a better job at delegating some of the tasks?
I also would have liked to have gotten more female scholars involved. There were two younger women who participated in the project, but it was mostly men. Sometimes it can be difficult to find women who are in senior researcher positions.
The most important thing is bringing together people that you can work with and talk to face-to-face on a daily basis. Even though it may be people you already know, your relationships are really strengthened by this sort of opportunity to collaborate. You have time to discuss the details -- not just the big picture.