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Meet the Faculty: Dr. Hugo Cardoso

Written by: Mina Parry

December 11, 2023

Dr. Hugo Cardoso is a biological and forensic anthropologist and professor in the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University. He also is the chair of this department and has a career that spans multiple continents. Dr. Cardoso is originally from Portugal and began his post-secondary education by majoring in biology and attaining a bachelor's degree at the University of Lisbon. He went on to receive his master’s degree at the University of Coimbra in Biological Archaeology and finally a Ph.D. in Anthropology at McMaster University. Dr. Cardoso had always had a passion and love for science, biology, history, archaeology and human evolution, but never thought he would become an academic. Despite what may seem obvious to contemporary Archaeology students today, it was rather difficult to find a concise path combining all those loves together. Some of the difficulties came from the fact that Archaeology in Europe is a subset of history, which fell under the humanities and he was naturally inclined towards the sciences. That led him to try a variety of different courses as an undergraduate student and volunteer in diverse areas. While his path seems unclear, he persevered and took opportunities when they arose and worked diligently to learn from and contribute to any profession or project, he was a part of. When I talked with Dr. Cardoso, I wanted to know about his experiences and changes in archaeology from his time as an undergrad to today. I was curious about what surprised him during his career as an archaeologist and he explained that he wasn’t expecting the depth of ego that drove a lot of the people and work he encountered. One of the more insightful dialogues that came from our conversation was asking him what he felt were challenges contemporary archaeology students face today that may have not been as prevalent in the past and what advice he’d give to our undergraduates. His response began by saying that during his undergrad there wasn’t a lot of commercial archaeology being done, but it's becoming a much bigger industry. There are pros and cons to this as it has increased the job market but has presented new challenges like learning how to run a business in addition to the archaeological skills. Finally, he concludes by emphasizing to get your hands on stuff and that a lot of his life is contingent on luck, but “you make your own luck, put yourself into places, get involved, open yourself up to possibilities, and be prepared to do hard work.”

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