MISSOULA – Anna Prentiss has made a career out of sifting through layers of history to reveal the daily lives of ancient people. Her efforts have led to layers of accolades.

The University of Montana archaeologist and anthropologist already holds the rank of Regents Professor – the top professor rank awarded by the Montana University System – and now she has become only the fourth Montanan ever elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Founded in 1780, previous members of the academy include Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr. The prestigious organization is both an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members and an independent research center that convenes leaders to address significant challenges.

“I’m honored and humbled to have my life’s work honored in this way,” Prentiss said. “I think this is another indicator that the research and scholarship at UM has impacts far beyond the borders of Montana. We can compete with anyone in the world.”

The other Montana scholars elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences include UM’s Fred Allendorf and Doug Emlen and Montana State University’s Henrietta Mann.

Prentiss earned her archaeology doctorate from Simon Fraser University in 1993. She joined the UM faculty in 1995 and became a full professor in 2009. The state Board of Regents approved her promotion to Regents Professor of Anthropology in 2018.

Her research interests include hunter-gatherers, village societies, ancient technology, evolutionary theory, and the method and theory of archaeology.

Her fieldwork has taken her and the scores of UM students she has mentored around globe, from British Columbia and Alaska to Patagonia. She also served as a visiting scholar in the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, England.

Prentiss has written and co-authored eight books, including 2017’s “The Last House at Bridge River,” which details a comprehensive study of a single-floor aboriginal home in British Columbia during the 19th-century Fur Trade period. She also has written more than 80 peer-reviewed articles, and her list of awards and accomplishments stretches her curriculum vitae to 51 pages.

Prentiss said her robust research agenda was developed as a byproduct of collaborations and partnerships with Canadian First Nations and Montana tribes.

“Dr. Prentiss is strongly deserving of being a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” said Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship. “Her work spans multiple disciplines and includes both research and creative scholarship.

“Efforts such as Anna’s are one of the primary reasons UM recently joined the top tier of research universities as a Carnegie Very High Research Activity (R1) campus,” he said. “The research and doctoral completer accomplishments of our social science faculty were a primary contributor to this seminal achievement of the University.”

- UM News Service -