University at Albany

Excellence in Research

Each year, the University at Albany honors special members of its community with Excellence Awards denoting exceptional contributions to the life of the campus. Four faculty members received this tribute in 2002 for Excellence in Research.

John S. JustesonJohn S. JustesonAnthropology

John Justeson is an accomplished and influential scholar in the field of linguistics. His most impressive achievement is the breakthrough joint decipherment, along with Terrence Kaufman, of the epi-Olmec writing system found on a small number of early monuments in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. The epi-Olmec writing system shares a common ancestry with the pro-Zoquean languages, a group of five indigenous languages spoken in eastern Mexico.

Justeson and Kaufman also began the ambitious project of documenting the Mixean and Zoquean languages of Mexico in the Project for the Documentation of Mesoamerican Languages, which has been running since the mid-1990s. Groups of graduate students were taken to Mexico to help describe and decipher the languages. The project has already resulted in two dictionaries, as well as a large number of dissertations and master’s theses.

Justeson, who has also made extremely valuable contributions to the understanding of Mayan hieroglyphics, is one of only a half dozen scholars at the forefront of our understanding of this writing system. His edited book and monograph are among the most widely cited sources in Mayan epigraphy. He has also written 14 book chapters and 28 journal articles.

Justeson is the founder and organizer of the Northeast Mesoamerican Epigraphy Group, which brings together epigraphers from Harvard, Yale, Colgate, and Albany for regular working groups and roundtables. He has also published on such varied topics as Hittite, Elmaite, Linear A, and computational linguistics.

The recipient of major funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society, Justeson has generated more than $1 million in external research funding.

Excellence in Research

Henryk Baran Lindsay N. Childs Betty C. Daniel John S. Justeson
Henryk Baran
and Cultures
Lindsay N.

and Statistics
Betty C. Daniel
John S.


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