As an anthropologist, Kelley Hays-Gilpin builds bridges to the past. But now she is building bridges for the future.

Northern Arizona University and the Museum of Northern Arizona recently established a three-year cooperative agreement for a close working relationship with Hays-Gilpin, an associate professor of anthropology at NAU, to build upon each institution’s strengths in research and education related to the Colorado Plateau.

“This agreement strengthens the anthropology program and the collaborative relationships between our institutions, and recognizes the skills and talents of Dr. Hays-Gilpin,” saidLiz Grobsmith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Hays-Gilpin becomes the museum’s Edward Bridge Danson Jr. Endowed Chair in Anthropology. Named for the museum’s second director in 1959, celebrated anthropologist Edward Danson, the position paves the way for Hays-Gilpin to create opportunities for students while fostering her own research interests.

As a result, Hays-Gilpin said, more students will have hands-on internships, independent work studies and be more involved in museum collections research.

“We want NAU students to feel at home at the museum,” Hays-Gilpin said. “Students can engage in service learning while helping their community. We plan to offer classes in museum studies and will establish a Native-American focused museum studies program.”

Museum Director Robert Breunig said, “We feel incredibly honored to appoint Dr. Kelley Hays-Gilpin to the Danson Chair. She is not only a first rank scholar of Southwestern anthropology; she embodies the spirit of graciousness and devotion to the mission of the museum that was exemplified by Dr. Danson.”

Hays-Gilpin said she also will shepherd the Hopi Iconography collaboration between the museum and the Hopi Tribe that is tracing Hopi cultural continuity by looking at pottery, mural painting, petroglyphs and other media. “We’re talking about what they mean and why they are important to people today,” said Hays-Gilpin, who documents her research in the museum’s upcoming Plateau magazine. She is also creating online field identification manuals for prehistoric pottery and working on a book about rock art in Chaco Canyon. She will continue to teach her courses at NAU.

She grew up the daughter of an archaeology buff. “I always have been curious about what life was like in the past,” she said.

Hays-Gilpin earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1992 and specializes in Southwest archaeology and ethnology, ceramics, gender, visual arts, rock art, archaeological method and theory and museums. She is author of numerous books, including Ambiguous Images: Gender and Rock Art, winner of the 2005 Society for American Archaeology Book Award.