William Gilstrap supervises the lab facilities at the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology, or CMRAE, and co-teaches 3.984/3.989 (Materials in Ancient Societies). This year-long course provides formal training in analysis of preindustrial materials. He also co-teaches 3.098 (Ancient Engineering: Ceramic Materials), which explores the fundamentals of ceramic materials as well as how the materials have changed over time and affected social development. Gilstrap’s research uses reconstructions of ancient ceramic technologies to understand the role of craft production and consumption in early complex societies.
Before MIT, Gilstrap was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Archaeometry Group of the University of Missouri Research Reactor in Columbia, Missouri. There he integrated elemental compositional analyses through neutron activation analysis, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and advanced analytical techniques to understand not just how things are made, but why they are made in a specific way. He earned an MS in archaeomaterials and a PhD in archaeology at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. After work, Gilstrap enjoys fly fishing, gardening, and spending time with his two children.