Master students is an asset to any group. They are usually hungry for knowledge, eager to do their thing, and super interested. And quit often they end up doing a really good job that eventually can be part of a study, or in the best of occasions, even a complete study. But where do you recruit them from when your work is the perfect definition of cross-discipline? The majority of our methods are collected from biology, but some few are still from archaeology. And the majority of our questions are from archaeology but some few are still from biology. What is the best background for a master student working in our group? This question was actualized just now as I was putting together a list of master subjects.
I consider myself an archaeologist, and I work at an archaeological department, so it would be logical to recruit students from archaeology. And the list I have in front of me concerns topics from Mesolithic demography over prehistoric health to Naploleonic demography. Sounds more archaeological than biological. Still, to carry out any of them one needs to be able to collect and work with genetic data, be comfortable with Linux and scripting, and have some sense of population genetics. Sounds more biological than archaeological. For now the most sensible thing to do is to start with the methods, anybody who cannot work in Linux and have no interest whatsoever in population genetics will not be able to get results to interpret in a cultural historical context. To even get started, the student needs to be comfortable with scripts, and to even get any results, the student would need to have a sense for at least the very basics of population genetics. I will keep looking for archaeologists with this kind of background. But honestly, with these criteria’s I suspect that a descent part of the students will come in from biology. And in the end, I am happy to train anybody with the right competence and interest.
Scripting is a part of archaeogenetics