CARTSS supports faculty and graduate research in all disciplines of the social sciences. Several of our current projects are featured below.

Faculty Projects

The Origins of Agriculture and Sedentism in the Mexican Highlands

Arthur Joyce

Arthur Joyce is carrying out archaeological excavations at the late Archaic Period (ca. 3000 B.C.) site of Yuzanu 36 in the Nochixtlán Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico.  The Archaic period holds the clues to the origins of agriculture and sedentary life in Mexico, one of the few places on earth where they developed independently. The project is designed to evaluate a theory that the transition to agriculture and sedentism in the Mexican highlands was focused on floodplains.  The research is important because little is known about this period in Mesoamerica and few sites in streamside settings have been investigated.   

Traveling Methods: Nations, Disciplines, and the Globalization of Qualitative Research Methodology

Research Team Members:

Bryan C. Taylor (PI), Professor, Department of Communication, University of Colorado, Boulder, 

Loredana Ivan (CI), PhD, Senior researcher and Associate Professor, Faculty of Communication and Public Relations, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest, Romania.  Email:

Corina Daba-Buzoianu (CI), PhD, Post-doctoral researcher and Assistant Professor, Faculty of Communication and Public Relations, SNSPA. Email: 

Project Title: “Traveling Methods: Nations, Disciplines, and the Globalization of Qualitative Research Methodology”.

Summary: This project represents an international collaboration between researchers at CU-Boulder and Romania’s National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (Bucharest). The researchers are developing an oral history of the assimilation of qualitative research methodology within the Romanian communication discipline. Qualitative interviews are being conducted with four generations of Romanian communication scholars. Related findings will explore how the developing identities of social-science disciplines, national cultures, and higher-educational institutions interact to influence the globalization of research methodology.  

Project Update: 

  • Two related presentations made at the second “Qualitative Research in Communication Conference,” held September 23rd – 25th, 2015 at SNSPA (Bucharest): Bryan C. Taylor, “Yours, Mine, and Ours: Theorizing the Global Articulation of Academic Disciplines and Qualitative Research Methods” (Keynote Address), and Corina Daba-Buzoianu, “Qualitative Research in Romania: Obstacles and Opportunities Before and after 1989.”
  • 15 of 30 planned interviews on track for completion and transcription by December 1st, 2015. 
  • Initial data analysis underway. 
  • Final 15 interviews planned for completion and transcription by April, 2016.
  • Conclusion of data analysis planned for June, 2016. 
  • Preparation of journal manuscript submissions to commence immediately afterwards. 

Graduate Student Projects

Erin Baxter 

CARTSS funded me (last Spring) to run an AMS (accelerated mass spectrometer -- eg. fancy radio-carbon) date on a specimen of corn excavated in 1919 at Aztec Ruins, NM by CU archaeologist Earl Morris. Field corn (what cows eat, and what we make ethanol from) was commonplace amongst Pueblo pueblo 1000 years ago; but this corn was unique -- an entirely different species of sweet corn, which had not been officially documented in North America until the early 19th century. An AMS date confirmed that it was not a mistake -- perhaps introduced to the excavation (on accident) by early explorers, pack rats or other unforeseen disturbances. The date, AD 1220-1280 indicates it is the most intact, earliest, and only existing, evidence of archaeological sweet corn in the United States.  

This has big implications for trade, access to precious goods, or even local development/domestication (in New Mexico!) of one of the most important food crops in the world.  

Rachel Egan

The mid-5th or 6th century eruption of the Ilopango caldera in modern-day El Salvador is one of the largest eruptions of the last 84,000 years in Central America. However, in order to explore the immediate impact this eruption would have on the people inhabiting the region as well as the long-term recovery processes, requires a more refined date range for the event. The main goal of this preliminary project was to apply optically stimulated luminescence, dating technique that effectively measures the time since a sediments last exposure to sunlight, in order to refine the date of the eruption. Samples were collected from 12 different locations within El Salvador and are currently being processed by the Luminescence Laboratory at the University of Washington.

The photo below shows the research assistant, Simon Pendleton, collecting sediment samples for analysis. 

Elizabeth K. Eger

Elizabeth K. Eger is a Doctoral Candidate in CU's Department of Communication. She received a spring 2015 CARTSS grant for her ongoing dissertation, Organizational Communication Research to Theorize Intersectional Identities and Transgender Outreach Organizing. As of October 2015, Elizabeth has conducted over 370 hours of participation observation and is doing ongoing interviews with members of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico (TGRC), one of the only trans-centered organizations in the United States. At TGRC, she is exploring justice-based organizational outreach for transgender people and examining the organizational communication processes and dilemmas of such efforts. TGRC focuses on intersections of difference in their mission for "all facets of transgender living;" thus, findings from this project will examine the practical and theoretical challenges of organizing around a shared “difference” community (in this case those using transgender as a category) that intersects with other differences (e.g., race, class, sexuality, ability, age, nation). This project joins communication scholars and other social scientists at CU who are engaging complex social problems around difference and injustices. Findings will have a practical impact for TGRC members and other transgender collectives. Elizabeth hopes her results will also open conversations around the unique complexities of difference-based organizational efforts focused on not only transgender outreach but also other difference-based justice organizations who may have paralleling communication challenges from their complex, crucial organizing efforts. For more information, please contact Elizabeth at:

Elizabeth Koebele 


Across the globe, and particularly in arid areas such as the Colorado River Basin, freshwater supplies are increasingly threatened by overuse, pollution, and changes in climate. In response, governing bodies at a variety of levels are seeking new ways to develop more flexible and sustainable solutions to both water use and water management. One potentially promising strategy to develop such solutions that is currently being implemented across scales, regions, and resource management contexts is collaborative governance. Collaborative governance processes work to integrate the diverse and often conflicting values of a wide variety of resource users in order to devise consensus-driven decisions and management actions.

My dissertation research investigates three cases of collaborative water governance in the Colorado River Basin in order to determine how such processes fit into the Colorado River water governance structure and whether these processes contribute to creating more sustainable water management solutions. The three cases include a statewide water supply planning process in Colorado (the Interbasin Compact Committee/Basin Roundtable process), a process involving four western states that promotes voluntary, incentive-based water conservation measures in order to raise water levels in two of the region’s most important reservoirs (the Colorado River System Conservation Program process), and an international collaboration between non-governmental organizations and the governments of the United States and Mexico to restore water to portions of the Colorado River Delta, a critical wetland ecosystem for humans and numerous endangered species (the Minute 319 process). By coupling qualitative and quantitative data collected through a variety of methods, I will contribute to the theoretical literature on environmental policy and governance while also developing implementable recommendations for improving collaborative processes in practice, a crucial step in ensuring water governance is as effective as possible in a future faced with increasing environmental threats and resource scarcity.

Joshua G. LePree

“Masculinities on the Move: Gendered Experiences of Mexican Migration to the United States”

Mexican immigrant men represent one of the most significant groups, socially, politically, and economically, in the history of U.S. immigration.  But how is it that being a Mexican man structures their unique migration experiences?  My dissertation research seeks to better understand how masculinity and manhood both inform- and are informed by- international migration from Mexico to the United States among first-generation immigrant men in the Denver metro area.  In doing so, my project aspires to make a valuable contribution to sociological theories of gender and immigration.  CARTSS has provided me with substantial support which has allowed me to purchase several years of software licensing that I need to analyze my data, as well as assisting me in hiring a student to transcribe several of my interviews with Mexican immigrant men.

Anna Schneider

Garden Canyon Village is a prehistoric village in southeastern Arizona that was occupied from A.D. 750 - A.D. 1450. Located in an intermediate area between prehistoric culture areas such as the Hohokam in Arizona, the Mogollon in New Mexico, and Casas Grandes in Mexico, Garden Canyon Village was part of a diverse cultural crossroads. CARTSS funding has helped support my investigation of how goods and people may have moved through this cultural frontier. In particular, I am interested in obsidian and turquoise artifacts. Prehistorically, obsidian was used for creating weapons and tools, while turquoise was crafted into beads and ornaments. Neither obsidian or turquoise are locally available near Garden Canyon Village but they can be analyzed to identify their geological source, illuminating where they came from, the distance they traveled to Garden Canyon Village, and the trade networks that may have transported them. XRF analysis of obsidian projectile points and tools has revealed that obsidian was coming to Garden Canyon village from six different sources, including Mule Creek and Antelope Wells in New Mexico, Cow Canyon in Arizona, and Los Jagueues and Selene in Mexico. Several of these sources are over 200 miles away. Turquoise results are forthcoming.

Alan Zarychta

"It Takes More than a Village: Polycentric Governance and the Performance of Local Health Systems in Central America"

Poor, rural citizens in developing countries have access to fewer health services and experience worse health outcomes than their richer, urban counterparts.  In response to this disparity, international development organizations have prescribed decentralization of public health services.  Decentralization refers to a suite of governance reforms that transfer authority and accountability for public health away from national ministries and toward local governments as a strategy for improving health system performance, namely access to services and equality in their provision, overall health status, community outreach, and efficiency.  While outside donors continue to incentivize decentralization in developing countries, we know little about whether such changes in governance structure produce better community health, and if they do, how.  The guiding research question for this project is:  Why do some local health systems in developing countries perform better than others?  I address this question in two steps with support from CARTSS.  First, I am elaborating a context-sensitive theory linking governance structure to the performance of local health systems.  Second, I am evaluating that theory by utilizing a comparative subnational research design and interdisciplinary methods to study local health systems in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.