ASU database celebrates growth, continued partnership with US Air Force, Indigenous communities

September 1, 2022

In 2010, the United States Department of the Air Force looked to Arizona State University archaeologists to help preserve historical information about the cultural resources found on the lands their bases occupy.

By partnering with the Center for Digital Antiquity within the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, the U.S. Air Force was not only able to store and organize thousands of documents, but also make them easily accessible to the public through the center’s Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) repository. Stacks of boxes with labels identifying documents contained inside. The U.S. Air Force's Avon Park Range catalogs the many artifacts found on the Florida range. The artifacts range in time from Paleolithic Native Americans to World War II. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston Download Full Image

The database has grown exponentially over the past few years, now housing terabytes of information, with over 26,000 users annually.

“In the West, many people may think archaeology fieldwork occurs only on public federal lands, like the national parks or the national forests,” says Christopher Nicholson, associate research professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and director of the Center for Digital Antiquity.

“When in fact, the Department of Defense manages millions of acres of land, and their archaeologists are continually finding historic and prehistoric artifacts. The prehistoric artifacts are from the ancestors of tribes, and (the Air Force) regularly works with these groups as they have extensive archaeological collections from decades of fieldwork.”

Recently, the tDAR team has been working with local tribes to upload such important historical information, much of which had been stored in filing cabinets for decades. Nicholson hopes more organizations will come to see the usefulness of tDAR.

“We recently completed our Digital Archive of Huhugam Archaeology in coordination with the Four Southern TribesThe Four Southern Tribes collectively refers to the people of the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Ak-Chin Indian Community and the Tohono O’odham Nation., and have projects with the Hopi and White Mountain Apache tribal historic preservation offices in the works,” he says. “We would like to continue to work with tribes on digital archiving and access solutions.”

tDAR was established in 2008 to organize and store archaeological items like maps, data and reports in one location. The goal of the repository is to make historic information easily available to both researchers and the public.

DAF now houses a total of 23 collections at tDAR. Because some of this content is sensitive, tDAR's system allows those who store information to have several levels of access and confidentiality. Most of the data stored at tDAR is open to the public, but some is only available to those within DAF or upon request.

“We have over 21,000 known archaeological sites and over 6,000 historic buildings and structures,” says Alison Rubio, cultural resources subject matter expert with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.

“The Air Force has really embraced this project working with tDAR as a way for us to both digitally curate our records and also serve as a platform to make them easily available to the public and researchers. This also helps us meet our National Historic Preservation Act and Archaeological Resources Protection Act requirements to make our records available.”

The work that tDAR is doing with the Air Force is also beneficial to ASU anthropology students. Nicholson said it wasn’t until after college that he had a full understanding of who exactly does archaeology and what jobs are available to students. Now, students are being exposed to the important archaeology work that happens on military bases and public land.

“Archaeology done on military lands truly adds to our understanding of the nation's cultural heritage,” Nicholson says, “and tDAR is excited to support (the Air Force's) efforts to be good digital stewards of this information.”

Nicole Pomerantz

Communications specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Freedom to explore varied pathways in doctorate program helped ASU nursing alumna grow in confidence

Get to know Dawn Augusta, a DNP graduate from 2021 and one of more than 17,000 Edson College alumni worldwide

September 1, 2022

Throughout her career, Dawn Augusta has impacted health care in many ways. First, as a bedside nurse delivering care for 15 years. Then, as an educator teaching at Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and now as an innovation leader. 

Helping her take that next step was the college’s advanced nursing practice (innovation leadership) DNP program. Augusta graduated in 2021.  Dawn Augusta smiles at the camera. She is wearing her Doctorate Graduation Regalia complete with black hat, gold tassel and black gown with maroon trimming. Dawn Augusta says the Innovation Leadership DNP program increased her confidence and opened doors to collaborate with new organizations to create meaningful change in health care. Download Full Image

“I started my own consulting business post-graduation that focuses on public/private health and human service system improvements, and I continue to teach at Edson College,” she says. 

In addition, Augusta’s also serving on multiple boards and commissions, both byproducts of her time in the DNP program, which encouraged networking and building relationships with fellow community leaders.

Augusta admits she was a little hesitant when she first enrolled in the program, not knowing where it would take her or what it would mean for her career. Those thoughts were quickly put to rest, though. She found her desire for impacting systems on a greater scale was in perfect alignment with the outcomes and experiences of the program. 

“If you feel frustrated with the status quo and wonder why redundant systems keep expecting new results, and you want to help elevate systems and impact the health service revolving door phenomenon, this is the learning experience for you,” she says. 

Below, Augusta shares more about how the DNP program increased her confidence and opened doors to collaborate with new organizations to create meaningful change in health care. 

Question: How did your degree program help you in achieving and maintaining the position you have now?  

Answer: I now have the confidence and competence to design data-informed innovations. I have coupled the DNP degree with national board certification in nurse coaching and I plan to develop Higher Ground Health Coaching teams. 

Q: What is a favorite memory from your time in your program? 

A: I enjoyed the freedom to explore my own areas of interest. This included exploring housing and urban design that informed a more holistic and upstream perspective of health and well-being. I sought out practicum experiences with diverse entities, such as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, addressing homelessness on public lands. Additionally, my practicum experience included working with a new value-based health system, Iora Health, exploring their use of health coaches to achieve better health outcomes. 

Q: What advice would you give to students currently enrolled in the program? 

A: Explore rabbit trails. Put yourself in proximity to that which you are curious about. Push, gently and creatively, and push yourself into trying on new roles. Pull up a seat at tables that perhaps nurses are not usually part of. Be a pioneer. 

Q: What were some unique challenges you had to overcome while pursuing this degree?  

A: The uncertainty surrounding what this degree will do for me professionally initially felt like a risk. However, this feeling quickly transformed into a powerful knowing. On the first day of orientation, I knew this was the right choice. The freedom to explore and be creatively expansive allowed me to grow into this confident, competent, highly valuable, innovation leader.

To learn more about Edson College alumni activities, events and programming, visit the alumni section of the college's website.

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation