Elizabeth Demarrais

Churchill Fellow Dr Elizabeth DeMarrais was one of thirteen inspirational academics honoured for the outstanding quality and approach to their teaching in the 22nd annual Pilkington Prizes, which honours excellence in teaching across the collegiate University.

Dr Elizabeth DeMarrais has been nominated for her consistently exceptional record of development and delivery of innovative new teaching in Archaeology and the Faculty. Her teaching activities have covered a broad range but her primary focus is on archaeology of the Americas, particularly South America.

Since arriving in Cambridge in 1998, Dr DeMarrais has created three new course offerings at undergraduate and MPhil level, as well as working with Dr Robb to set up and run the Material Culture Laboratory. This centre for interdisciplinary research provides a lively forum for theoretical debate among students, post-doctoral researchers and staff. Dr DeMarrais regularly supervises undergraduate and MPhil dissertations, encouraging students to make use of the first-rate collections held in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Of a total of 21 undergraduate dissertations supervised since 2000, five of her supervisees have won the Departmental Prize for best dissertation of the year.

Feedback from her students is overwhelmingly positive in describing her teaching and pastoral abilities. Students frequently share comments such as:

“Elizabeth’s take on the politics of material culture still tinges the way I think about both archaeology and the world I live in. In short, she is a great, great teacher.”;

“Elizabeth cares deeply for her students. She always took time to meet with me when I needed advice, and she was always supportive and encouraging.”

“She always encourages her students to think independently, and challenge everything we thought we knew about how human societies should work. Her lectures are outstanding: she effortlessly communicates complex ideas and theories, and presents the material in a clear manner.”

Dr DeMarrais has inspired several generations of undergraduate and graduate students by her adept academic guidance in an impressive array of subject areas within Archaeology. She is an outstanding teacher and most deserving recipient of this award.

The 22nd annual Pilkington Prizes, which honour excellence in teaching across the collegiate University, were held at Corpus Christi College last Friday evening. The prizes are awarded annually to academic staff, with candidates nominated by Schools within the University.

The Pilkington Prizes were initiated by Sir Alastair Pilkington, the first Chairman of the Cambridge Foundation, who believed passionately that the quality of teaching was crucial to Cambridge’s success.

This year’s recipients received their awards at a ceremony attended by Professor Graham Virgo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education.

Credit: University of Cambridge