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Faculty Excellence College of Arts and Sciences October 16, 2023

Sarah H. Parcak, Ph.D., Professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Anthropology, has been awarded the 2023 Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Award for Scholarly Distinction. A committee of faculty members and past Ireland Award recipients within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) selected Parcak for the award.

The annual award—endowed by Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland—recognizes a CAS faculty member whose research and scholarship are of the highest caliber.

Sarah H. Parcak, Ph.D., Professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of AnthropologySarah H. Parcak, Ph.D., Professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of AnthropologyParcak earned a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Egyptology) and Archaeological Studies from Yale University. She went on to earn both her Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. in Egyptian Archeology from Cambridge University. After completing her Ph.D., Parcak accepted a position as an assistant professor with UAB’s Department of Anthropology in 2006. She was promoted to associate professor in 2011, then full professor in 2017.

Parcak is a widely-known and celebrated Egyptologist, and her groundbreaking work on satellite archeology has prompted international recognition and accolades from local, national, and international groups. Parcak wrote the first textbook on satellite archeology—Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology—and her research has been published in a range of scholarly journals including the Journal of Archeological Sciences, the Journal of Egyptian Archeology, and the Journal of Field Archeology. In addition, she has published op-eds in renowned media outlets—including The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and Time Magazine—and she has presented her research at influential conferences and venues including the World Economic Forum and the Google Cultural Institute.

Along with her published research, extensive fieldwork, and teaching, Parcak is a National Geographic Society Archaeology Fellow, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a 2020 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2013 TED Senior Fellow. Her TED Talk from 2012—titled “Archeology from space”—currently has over 1.2 million views.

For Parcak, the Ireland Award is both a surprise and honor. “This is an extraordinary and unexpected honor. I see it as a celebration of the tremendous and engaging work my colleagues have done and continue to do in archaeology—and especially at a time when we have so much to learn from the past about climate change, disease, war, and all the issues we face today,” said Parcak. “I would not be where I am in my career without the extraordinary support I have received from so many former and current UAB administrators and colleagues. I look forward to celebrating my field and our department with UAB and the broader Birmingham community."

“Dr. Parcak's career is unparalleled,” said Kecia M. Thomas, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It is hard to identify another scholar who has been recognized by such a diversity of important scholarly and cultural institutions. These recognitions include a recent Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award, a $1 million TED Prize, and a Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award. She is clearly a pioneer in the ancient field of archeology.”


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