Dr. Paula T. DePriest
Dr. Paula T. DePriest is the Deputy Director of the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute. Since 2002, Dr. DePriest has conducted fieldwork in the Tsaatan reindeer herding regions of northern Mongolia, exploring the plants, landscapes, and worship structures that comprise their annual nomadic migration. Traveling with her team of Tsaatan guides, she has explored thousands of square kilometers of Sayan Mountain taiga and Darkhad Valley pastures on horseback. By examining and documenting the locations, forms, and artifacts of over 150 worship structures, her research looks for elements of ancestor worship, shamanism and Buddhism in the landscape-related worship traditions of the most interesting ethnic groups along Mongolia’s border regions. Dr. DePriest is a member of the Smithsonian Institution’s multi-disciplinary American-Mongolian Deer Stone Project, and a board member of the Mongolia Society and the American Center for Mongolian Studies. She works with Mongolian and international partners to protect archaeological, cultural heritage, and ecological resources across Mongolia.