By Allen M. Junek '18
The late Milo Carlson had a passion for anthropology, which began at a young age. As a boy, he was an amateur archaeologist and collected Indian artifacts. Although his career path took him in a different direction, his son Gene R. Carlson ’75, a mechanical engineering graduate, wanted to honor that childhood passion with a gift to the College of Liberal Arts.
Gene Carlson established the Milo E. Carlson Graduate Travel Fund in Biological Anthropology in memory of his father and to support graduate student research in the Department of Anthropology. Obtaining funding for research and travel is a necessity for most graduate students but can often be a challenge. Gifts like the Carlson Fund provide outstanding graduate students with the resources they need to conduct research that impacts our state, nation, and world
Masters student Kathryn Bailey ’14 is this year’s recipient of the award. Bailey is currently in Vietnam studying the movement patterns and evolution of the red-shanked douc langur monkeys in the Son Tra Nature Reserve. She said she would not be in Vietnam right now carrying out her research goals without Gene Carlson’s gift.
Bailey’s research could help ensure conservation of this endangered primate species by helping to better understand its behavior. Her findings can be used to draw inferences about the evolution of similar behaviors in our fossil ancestors. Bailey said her work is just one example of the valuable contributions being made by anthropology research.
“It is important to set a precedent that there’s so much of the world to be learned from this field–that it does contribute to science,” Bailey said.
Gene Carlson’s daughter, Keely Walker ‘07, who earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from Texas A&M, agrees.
“In today’s era of globalization and modernization, liberal arts is perhaps more relevant and important than ever before,” Walker said.
Walker inherited her passion for anthropology from Milo, her grandfather. Milo was born in 1918 and spent most of this life in Pampa, Texas, where he served two elected terms as mayor.
Walker remembers reading essays written by her grandfather in high school discussing the various subfields of anthropology and describing his dream of going to college to become an archaeologist. Milo Carlson instead chose to take over his father’s construction company when he graduated. However, he never lost his interest in the subject and built a considerable collection of anthropology books that he passed down to Walker when she started her undergraduate degree.
“I think he would be incredibly proud to know his name is being honored in a way that helps others carry out the work he always envisioned and hoped for,” Walker said.
Although Gene Carlson passed away recently, his philanthropy will have an impact on Aggie students for generations to come.
This article was originally published by the College of Liberal Arts.