TXST anthropology doctoral student receives P.E.O. Scholar Award


Lane Fortenberry | May 2, 2024

Headshot of Molly Kaplan.
Molly Kaplan

Molly Kaplan, Ph.D. student in applied anthropology at Texas State University, has received a Scholar Award for the 2024-2025 award year given by the international chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood.

The $25,000 merit-based award recognizes and encourages academic excellence and achievement by women in doctoral-level programs and provides partial support for study and research. Receiving a P.E.O. Scholar Award is a prestigious honor that recognizes not only scholarly excellence but also the ability of each recipient to make a significant contribution to their field.

As a forensic anthropologist, Kaplan focuses on identifying the long-term deceased and returning missing loved ones to their families. Currently, she works along the U.S.-Mexico border to locate, exhume, identify, and repatriate unidentified deceased migrants. Broadly, her research integrates humanitarianism and criminal justice to improve "cold case" death investigations.

“I am delighted and honored to be included among this outstanding group of women,” Kaplan said. “The P.E.O. Scholar Award will greatly support the completion of my dissertation in the coming year while fostering my ongoing connection to a diverse and supportive community of scholars. I am deeply grateful to P.E.O., my faculty sponsors, and Drs. Andrea Hilkovitz and Brian Smith for their support.”

Kaplan’s advisor is Kate Spradley, Ph.D., and her PSA application was supported by letters from Spradley, Nicholas Herrmann, Ph.D., and Michelle Hamilton, Ph.D.

Only 100 students were selected nationally from 827 applicants this year (a 12% funding rate). Kaplan went through a lengthy selection process, including a campus screening, a Zoom interview, and a nomination by P.E.O. Chapter HW Marble Falls just to be invited to submit an application.

Kaplan is the fifth doctoral student from the Department of Anthropology to have been selected as a P.E.O. Scholar. TXST now has nine doctoral students who have received the award since The Graduate College began offering external funding advising services in 2016.

P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) is a women’s organization, founded Jan. 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College, that supports education through several philanthropic projects. There are about 6,000 local chapters in the U.S. and Canada with nearly a quarter of a million active members.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922