Graduate Students


Alejandro Figueroa

Graduate Student

Heroy Hall 429

I have always been fascinated by how people interact with their surroundings. I have pursued this subject of study from a variety of angles, including working in landscapes that were used by people in prehistory and continue to be used today as locales for rituals, settings for rich oral histories, or simply as places to make a living.

My dissertation research focuses on how human populations navigated the major environmental and climatic changes following the last ice age in southeastern Mesoamerica, and what impact these major changes had on their livelihoods. To do this, I am analyzing the extremely well-preserved animal remains from the El Gigante rockshelter in southwestern Honduras, which was occupied almost continuously from 11,000-500 years ago. Beyond the ability of my research to yield valuable data about the early peoples of Central America, I consider public outreach and community participation a fundamental component of my career. With this in mind I have strived to develop and support mechanisms and processes whereby local communities can assist in the preservation and promotion of their cultural heritage, all while upholding national and international principles and laws.


Entered program in 2011

Regional of Study:

Southeastern Mesoamerica, Central America, Northern Great Plains

Awards and Honors:

2016 Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
2014 Graduate Research Student Award, Institute for the Study of Earth and Man (ISEM), Southern Methodist University
2013 Garry Weber Pre-Dissertation Award for Archaeology Doctoral Studies, Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University


Goodwin, Whitney A., Alejandro J. Figueroa, and Erlend Johnson, editors (under contract). New Definitions of Southeastern Mesoamerica: Indigenous, Resilience, and Change. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Figueroa, Alejandro J. (2014) Successful Local Cultural Heritage Management: A Lesson from Honduras. Anthropology News 55(3): 21-61.

Figueroa, Alejandro J., Whitney A. Goodwin, and E. Christian Wells (2012) Mayanizing Tourism in Roatán, Honduras: Archaeological Perspectives on Heritage, Development, and Indigeneity. In Economic Encounters in the Age of Global Tourism, edited by Sarah M. Lyon and E. Christian Wells, pp. 43-60. Altamira Press, Lanham.

Figueroa, Alejandro J. (2012) Renovando la arqueología pública institucional: El Proyecto de Arte Rupestre de Honduras. In Arqueología y Comunidades en Honduras, edited by Eva Martínez, pp. 22-43. Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  

Wells, E. Christian, and Alejandro J. Figueroa (2012) Comment on 'Casualties of Heritage Distancing: Children, Ch'orti' Indigeneity, and the Copán Archaeoscape', by Patricia A. McAnany and Shoshaunna Parks. Current Anthropology, 53(1):80-107.

Figueroa, Alejandro J., and Francisco Rodríguez Mota (2009) Manual Básico de Arte Rupestre de Honduras. Guide to the Rock Art of Honduras. Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. 

Figueroa, Alejandro J., and Francisco Rodríguez Mota (2009) Manual Básico para el Guardarecursos Cultural Local de Honduras. Guide for the Local Cultural Resource Manager in Honduras. Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Rodríguez Mota, Francisco, Alejandro J. Figueroa, and Ranferi Juárez (2005) El Arte Rupestre en Honduras: Metodología para su Estudio, Conservación e Interpretación. In Yaxkin 12(1):74-91.

Membership in Professional and Honorary Organizations

World Archaeological Congress - Student Committee, Representative for Central America & the Caribbean
Society for American Archaeology
Society for Applied Anthropology
American Anthropological Association
Alpha Lambda North American Society for Anthropology Honors Students, Iota Chapter
Phi Beta Kappa National Honors Society, Lambda Chapter, Saint Lawrence University