Dr. Karen L. Steelman is the director of Shumla’s 14C plasma oxidation laboratory and a key member of Shumla’s Research Leadership Team. Trained as an archaeological chemist, Dr. Steelman is a leading international rock art researcher with over 40 peer-reviewed archaeology publications. Prior to joining the staff at Shumla, Dr. Steelman was a Full Professor of Chemistry at the University of Central Arkansas, having taught there for over 12 years. She was a long-time friend and collaborator with the Shumla team. We were thrilled to add her to the staff in January 2017.
Karen received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas and a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Under the mentorship of Dr. Marvin W. Rowe (another long-time researcher in the Lower Pecos), Karen had the opportunity to blend her two interests – physical science and archaeology. As a recipient of a Watson Fellowship, Karen also studied art conservation at museums in Costa Rica, Chile, Australia, and Great Britain. Karen uses chemical analyses to identify pigments used by ancient artists and to radiocarbon date ancient rock paintings. Her methods include portable x-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, plasma oxidation, and accelerator mass spectrometry.