2023 Small Grant Program

Meet our seven grantees from our first small grant program, launched in the summer of 2023, which supports our members in their professional journey with financial support for travel, research and publication expenses. Stay tuned for more updates from our grantees!


Zilola Tulkinova


My name is Zilola Tulkinova and I am from Uzbekistan, Tashkent. I have a bachelor’s degree in Restoration of Ancient Architectural Decor. In the final year of my bachelor’s I participated in the UNESCO Varaxsha project as a painter-renovator, which was a cool opportunity to work with real archeologists and scientists. After this experience I chose to work on the Varaxsha settlement for my thesis. I recreated a 3D model of the whole settlement. Now, I am a master’s student in Portugal, studying as part of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master in Archaeological Materials Science (ARCHMAT EMJM). I just want my Steppe Sisters from Uzbekistan to realise the role of education for women - the more educated women are, the stronger society is. 


Ana Tetruashvili




My primary research focuses on the typological and traceological analysis of prehistoric stone tools. I undertook internships at the traceological laboratories of the Archaeological Research Centre in Georgia (2012) and at RAS (2014 to 2017). Since 2016, I've been teaching prehistoric archaeology and Stone Age archaeology of Georgia at Tbilisi State University. My research has primarily emphasised agricultural tools, and labour division in protohistoric agriculture, conducted in various German Institutes and was supported by grants from EU foundations (2018-2023). I pursued a Ph.D. grant investigating stone artefacts at the Grakliani Hill site (2017-2019). Subsequently, under the young researcher grant, I studied grinding stones preserved in the GNM, supported by the SRNSF (2021-2023). I received scholarships from EU4Culture and Culture Moves Europe, which aided in the creation of reference collections on prehistoric agriculture and experimental archaeology. Since 2011, I've actively participated in local and international conferences, congresses, projects, and archaeological expeditions.


Shoirakhon Nurdinova




Shoirakhon Nurdinova is an associate professor at Namangan Engineering- Construction Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Anadolu University, Turkey. Her research interests focus on happiness economics, gender issues, and labour migration from Central Asia. She has conducted research on the happiness of housewives at the Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization under the supervision of Prof. Ruut Veenhoven. She has been a visiting scholar at the Department of Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University, conducting a research project on “Uzbek women care-workers as circular migrants to Turkey”.  She was awarded the George Washington University-Nazarbayev University (NU-CAP) fellowship in 2017, in which she analysed external and internal migration in Central Asian countries.


Catherine Klesner


I am a postdoctoral fellow in Ancient Ceramics at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. My research focuses on reverse engineering ancient ceramic technologies through archaeometric analysis to study how technological knowledge was developed, transmitted, adopted, and adapted in the past. I received my Ph.D. (2021) in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Arizona, where my project examined the development of lead-glazed ceramics in early Islamic period Silk Road cities in southern Kazakhstan. Examining these early glazed ceramics by compositional, isotopic, and microscopic analysis not only reveal the physical trade networks in place, but also how distinctive Islamic technological traditions were transmitted and adapted into the region. I am currently expanding this research to investigate early Islamic glazed ceramics and silver metallurgy from the major site of Sadyr-Kurgan in the upper Talas River Valley (Kyrgyzstan) to determine the nature of craft production and cross-craft interactions in the frontier regions of the early period Islamic Empire.


Aizhan Amanova




My name is Aizhan Amanova. I am originally from Kyrgyzstan where I graduated from the high school called Jusup Imanaliev in 2022. In 2021-2022 I spent an exchange year in the United States as a FLEX program finalist. After returning to my home country, I started a new volunteering position as a City Representative of the American Councils in Kyrgyzstan. My responsibilities were to implement social, environmental and educational projects which will benefit in rural areas. Currently I am a 1st year computer science student at the ELTE University, Faculty of Informatics in Budapest, Hungary. My goal is to become a software engineer and to apply all the knowledge and experiences that I gained.


Zhazira Bekzhanova




Dr. Zhazira Bekzhanova is an Associate Professor at the international branch of Heriot-Watt University (UK), located at Zhubanov University (Aktobe, Kazakhstan). She teaches the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course and linguistic subjects. Dr. Bekzhanova’s research interests encompass discourse studies, the intersection of gender and language in education, and language policies. She has actively participated in multiple funded projects on gender in education and has taken on the role of a principal researcher in her project titled ‘Gender, language and social inequalities in the textbooks on the History of Kazakhstan’, which was supported by the PEER Network partnership. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the exploration of gender equality issues in Kazakhstan, Dr. Bekzhanova was named a national finalist for the international UK Alumni Awards by the British Council in 2023.

Angela Noseda


My name is Angela Noseda and I am a recent master’s graduate from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris (France). I specialise in zooarchaeology and taphonomy. I study large mammal remains predominantly from Prehistoric contexts. Thanks to the Steppe Sisters Grant I received I was able to go on a field mission for 3 weeks to develop a protocol for the collection of microfaunal remains on the mediaeval site of Kafir Kala (Samarkand, Uzbekistan).