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UNM professor receives national honor

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — University of New Mexico archaeologist Patricia Crown was named Tuesday to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

In an interview, Crown said she was humbled by the surprise announcement. “It’s just an incredible honor,” she said.

Crown was one of 84 new members named to the group, which represents the top scientists in their fields. There are currently 2,214 members. Academy selection is based on nominations and a vote by current members.

Crown also holds the title of “distinguished professor” at UNM, the highest award bestowed on the university’s faculty. She is most well known for her pioneering research on cultural rituals at Chaco Canyon, where she and her colleagues found traces of chocolate in ceremonial drinking vessels.

The chocolate must have come from Central America, where the beans are grown, and suggests a regional economy that included trade in precious luxury items, Crown’s research suggests. Crown also studies the role of women in past societies.

Crown received her doctorate from the University of Arizona in 1991, and has been on UNM’s faculty since 1993.