May 4, 2007 -- Stephen Plog, Commonwealth Professor in the University of Virginia’s department of anthropology, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Election to the academy is among the highest distinctions for a scientist, and is based on outstanding and ongoing achievements in original research. The 72 new members chosen on May 1 bring the total number to 2,025; the number of foreign associates, with the election of 18 new members, totals 387.
Plog, who joined the U.Va. anthropology department as an assistant professor in 1978, is an archaeologist whose work focuses on understanding cultural change among prehistoric cultures in the American Southwest. His research on the Chaco Canyon region of northwestern New Mexico has changed several long-accepted ideas about early Native American peoples, ancestors of the Hopi, Zuni, and Rio Grande pueblos in Arizona and New Mexico, and what led to massive population shifts near the end of the 13th century.
Through a fellowship with U.Va.’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, he and colleagues have created an online digital archive (www.chacoarchive.org) for several of the key excavated sites in the Chaco region.
Plog also has served as anthropology department chair, director of undergraduate studies, and associate dean for academic programs in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Born in Roswell, N.M., Plog earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan. His latest book, “Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest,” won the Society of American Archaeology’s 1998 book prize.
The academy, a nonprofit organization of scientists and engineers established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, is an honorific society dedicated to the advancement of science for the general welfare. Members and foreign associates are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
The academy acts in an official advising capacity to the federal government in any matter involving science or technology. NAS is one of four organizations that make up the National Academies, the others being the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.