Skip to content

A potential grad student I met with a few weeks ago said, I'm a first generation college student, so I know there are probably a lot of questions I'm not thinking to ask. Maybe you can tell me the answer to one of them without me asking it.

Did you ask us about our mental and emotional support of grad students? We don't believe in lone ethnographer pull yourself up by the bootstraps anthropology. It's dangerous for your health, and it's bad for scholarship.

Grad school can be a very lonely place. Most students go from being the smartest kid in their class without even trying to being completely average. We don't pit our students against each other, but it is still very hard to ramp up your game that fast, especially at such a young, vulnerable, and largely untested age.

Furthermore, college inculcates or at least perpetuates anxiety and depression in those susceptible by default---our goal as instructors being to train students to develop compassion and critical thinking skills. We all but tell students to care a lot about everything, worry a lot, and try to save the world. It's a recipe for disaster.

Finally, anthropology studies how families and communities and health systems and such work among peoples of the world. What about among us? Why are we so good as parsing it out there and so bad at seeing how we perpetuate poor emotional and mental health within our own systems and departments?

Unsure we're so troubled? Just a few data points then. US teen and young adults suicide rates have been rising the past few decades, according to an October 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. My colleagues and I studied work-life balance among anthropologists a few years ago and found, unsurprisingly, that grad students have lower sense of balance and higher stress than professional by a wide margin and across all categories.

Finally, so many of us have experienced the emotional toll personally way too much and seen the damage firsthand. A grad student from a cohort a year or so after me who shared my same adviser took his own life during graduate school. Just a few weeks ago, a teenage boy at my children's high school did the same.

I imagine students feel like they are making themselves look weak or unstable if they ask about mental and emotional support, so I am happy to bring it up. We do our best to support our students. We are there to help guide you, not torture you. We will be watching for warning signs and trying to reassure students that the sadness associated with academic stress is temporary. We try to keep students working with each other, not in competition, and to support each other. We do our best to provide funding so you don't have to worry about that too. We keep our doors open and are there to talk and have plenty of tissues. It's fine. It's normal. Use them.

If you have anxiety or depression in grad school, you're not alone, you're in the majority. And we should be helping you with those needs as much as training you in theory and methods, or we are not giving you sufficient training to prepare you for a successful future.


Just a few hours ago, the Graduate School Committee unanimously approved our proposal for two dual-degree programs (MA/MPH and MPH/PhD) in Biocultural Health Promotion. These programs will be available as of Spring 2020.

Need & Rationale for Dual Degree Programs
Dr. Stephanie McClure wrote most of this text (from the proposal) and will direct the dual-degree programs for Anthropology.
Dr. Stephanie McClure wrote most of this text (from the proposal) and will direct the dual-degree programs for Anthropology.

Current knowledge and practice affirm that health is a multi-dimensional phenomenon with a variety of determinants. Public health researchers and anthropologists have traditionally studied population health issues from within their respective disciplinary silos. While the siloed approach has enjoyed some success, the current consensus is that combining methods and theories from both disciplines will expand the reach and efficacy of either approach in benefiting population health.

Anthropology is concerned with human beings and their biological and cultural diversity in context. This means that anthropologists develop expertise with particular locations and groups. We continuously seek to improve in the processes necessary for successful engagement with communities: gaining entree, archival and on-the-ground fact-finding, relationship-building, and contextual inquiry and analysis. Practitioners in the sub-field of medical anthropology apply these skills in explorations of health and the biological, material, and sociocultural circumstances that bear on health.

Angelia Paschal
Dr. Angelia Paschal is Associate Professor & Interim Chair of Health Science and the contact person there for these programs.

Public health is concerned with population well-being---with patterns of health and disease among groups of people, what influences those patterns, and how those patterns change through action at multiple levels, from individual to policy. Health education and promotion is a sub-specialty in public health. In addition to learning epidemiology and using epidemiological data to document population health trends, health education and promotion specialists are trained in community assessment, intervention planning and design, and program evaluation---tools that are critical to improving, supporting, and sustaining population health.

Public health and anthropology have shared and complementary interests.  Anthropologists and public health practitioners collaborate in community-based work, in service delivery, and on policy work in government and non-governmental and/or international organizations. Efforts to combine the knowledge and skill sets of the two disciplines have produced a growing number of formal, combined training programs. These dual-degree programs attract students because they broaden the skill sets and vision of their students and add value to their graduates’ professional endeavors. By combining the disciplinary knowledge and skills of each constituent program, dual training heightens the likelihood that graduates’ efforts to improve population health will be successful.

The Anthropology Department at the University of Alabama is well-known and highly respected for the caliber of its graduate training in biocultural medical anthropology. Program graduates frequently go on to pursue degrees in public health or medicine and cite their studies at UA as integral to their success.

Dr. Levi Ross is director of the on-campus MPH program in the Department of Health Science & has been integral to developing these programs.
Dr. Levi Ross is director of the on-campus MPH program in the Department of Health Science & has been integral to developing these programs.

The Capstone launched its master’s degree program in Health Education and Health Promotion in fall 2018. The Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Education & Promotion curriculum equips students with the knowledge, skills, and expertise needed to preserve, promote, and improve the health of individuals, communities, and populations. Its specific focus on health promotion and multi-modal (online, in-class, combined) content delivery make it attractive to and feasible for students, whether they are pursuing a career path in public health or seeking public health training as a compliment to other professional preparation.

Biocultural Health Promotion

Our master’s and doctoral level dual degree programs---an MA/MPH in Biocultural Health Promotion and a PhD/MPH in Biocultural Health Promotion---blend excellent graduate training in biocultural medical anthropology with rigorous, applied preparation in public health education and promotion. We aim to produce graduates versed in the assessment of and engagement with health as a biological, cultural and structural phenomenon, and trained to engage multiple levels of the social ecology of health. Ours will be a value-added curriculum. It will enhance students’ ability to perform as effective members of their respective disciplines and to offer a broad set of knowledge and skills to their future employers and collaborative partners.

Dr. Brian Gordon is director of the distance learning MPH program & the fifth integral person to developing these programs.
Dr. Brian Gordon is director of the distance learning MPH program & the fifth integral person to developing these programs.

The master’s program will be reciprocal from the outset; that is, we welcome public health students who wish to add anthropological training to their repertoire and anthropology students who desire the knowledge and skills attainable through public health training. Initially, our doctoral program will target anthropology doctoral students seeking public health training. However, we anticipate that as the program becomes more established, public health doctoral students will see the benefits of a master’s in anthropology. Witnessing the opportunities in the MA/MPH students training to engage in interprofessional work, to expand their methodological expertise, and to enhance their knowledge of culture and culture theory may attract enrolled or entering public health doctoral students.

For the master’s program, we have created curricular options for thesis and non-thesis students. The planned program duration is 2–3 years, depending on whether students choose the thesis or non-thesis option. Students will be encouraged to pursue their own research interests within a biocultural/health promotion framework.

We anticipate that anthropology doctoral students will complete much of their public health coursework online---taking courses immediately prior to going to the field and while in the field. We expect that public health course work will add a maximum of eighteen months to our doctoral students’ completion timeline.

Applying for the Programs

Applicants will have to apply to each program separately and indicate in the personal statements that they are applying for the dual-degree program. For more information on this and other details that we haven't had time to post to our websites yet, contact Drs. McClure or Lynn in Anthropology or Drs. Paschal, Ross, or Gordon in Health Science.

If I were more pragmatic, I'd wait until after November 12 to write on this topic. But then two weeks of recruiting potential grad students would be gone without them having the benefit of this watershed information (and two weeks of considering paying for the GRE).

I personally have never been a fan of the GREs, ever since I took all sorts of courses to do well on them to get myself into graduate school and still did poorly on the math portion. It was so frustrating to pay for and take all those GRE prep courses and still do poorly. When I was applying to grad school, I visited my dream program and was told I was a good prospect but would need a better math score to get into their program. The problem was that I was leaving for a month-long study abroad in Ecuador in a few days and would have to take it down there to have the chance.

Taking the GRE in Ecuador was memorably absurd. The test was at 8AM, so I had to navigate my way in Guayaquil to a downtown building I had never heard of. The test was in a room that reeked of gasoline, which made me woozy. And, this next bit may sound a bit unseemly, but I feel the need to be real here---I hadn't been able to go to the bathroom (#2) at the house where I was staying, but by the middle of testing, I really had to go. Fortunately, the math had come first, so I was able to focus on that, then started on the verbal but had to go to the bathroom so badly that I just answered B on the rest of the questions and bolted out of there. Because of the algorithms the GRE uses, my verbal score was only 10 points lower than the previous time I'd taken it.

I got into my dream PhD program, but they did not offer me funding. Everyone in the program including my adviser said they should not admit doctoral students without funding. You should not go through a doctoral program without funding. That was a bitter pill. I dropped out after a month and wound my way through two other programs before finishing up. But that is another story.

The GRE was a hot mess for me, a white guy willing to pay to take it multiple times. It is absurd that I could answer B and get a decent score in one case and try my butt off at other times and perform poorly. It is not a good indicator of one's capacity to do well in graduate school.

If we want to enhance the diversity of our discipline, and we at Alabama do---we want a diverse anthropological lens to have a better sense of the diversity that we attempt to study. We also want to resemble the diversity that we promote. If we want to enhance the diversity of our discipline of anthropology, then we need to remove structural impediments that are biased toward people who can afford to pay multiple times for the GRE, have the institutional knowledge to get waivers, and have been socialized to test well.

In advance of the final vote at the level of the Graduate School on November 12, I am pleased to say that the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama voted unanimously to apply to eliminate the GRE as a criterion for admission to our MA program except where an applicant's GPA for the last 60 hours of undergrad is below 3.0. The GPA and the courses one has taken are better quick indicators of a student's capacity to succeed in graduate school. Our proposal was unanimously approved by the College of Arts & Sciences graduate committee this past week.

We applied only for the MA program, because our direct-to-PhD program is new and entails 5 years of guaranteed funding. We are more selective for that and may extend the elimination of the GRE for that too when we have more experience with it. Generally, our PhD applicants have an MA already, and the Graduate School does not require GRE scores for applicants who have already successfully completed a graduate degree (or are finishing up an MA and heading into a PhD program).

As part of our application to eliminate the GRE, we had to list other similar programs that do not use the GRE. At the time, I listed UNC Charlotte, because they have a MA/MPH in Applied Medical Anthropology and Public Health, which is similar to a program we are introducing and that I will tell you about in a future post. I listed UMass Amherst because of the caliber of anthropology students they send us. And I listed George Mason, because it seems like a comparable program. All three of those anthropology programs are ahead of the rest of us in not requiring the GRE.

I'm motivated to write this post this morning because I've just seen that three other programs have made similar endeavors, including the one I alluded to in my personal story above!

We did have to tweak our application process for the Graduate School to replace the GRE with something, but the exercise was useful. Rather than add some other structural burden, we are simply being more explicit about what we are looking for in the Personal Statement. As soon as it is official, we will update our website. In the meantime, dearest potential applicants, here's what you need to know:

  • Your personal statement should outline one personal and one professional goal.
  • It should tell us why anthropology is the discipline you think can help you achieve those goals.
  • It should indicate why our department is suited to train you toward those goals (indicating that you have explored our website and/or been in touch with our faculty).
  • And it should name at least two faculty members you think could serve as good mentors for you (meaning you will likely have multiple advocates in our admissions meeting and half your committee already constituted).

As usual, if you have questions, email me, call me (205-348-4162), or tweet me. You can learn more about our department via our website. We also have a Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram accounts, so please follow us!

I am speaking only for myself, but if I'm being honest, Alabama was not my first choice location to move to teach anthropology. The State of Alabama has a reputation for political conservatism and football. Both of them are well earned. When I was looking for jobs, I was concerned about where I would raise my kids and was not particularly interested in football (that has changed, big time). And that is not a knock on Alabama really---it is simply that I grew up in Indiana, which is also pretty conservative, and I am not. I am pretty liberal. I lived in New York City for 15 years and love the cosmopolitan diversity of that place. Then my wife and I lived right outside of New Paltz, NY during my graduate school years, which I often refer to as Portlandia East. It's about a liberal a place as can be.

But the University of Alabama has turned out to be a great place for my career and family, and it's a great place to consider graduate school in anthropology. I've been the Graduate Director for UA's Department of Anthropology for over a year now, so certainly I'm biased. And recruiting you is my job. But I thought I'd wake our blog site back up by writing a new column to tell you all the awesome things about our program toward that end. At the end of the day, reading my propaganda should just be a first or initial step. I stand by everything I will say and suggest you talk to our students and find out about their experiences to verify my claims.

To get this column started, I'll share 3 things that make our graduate programs special: (1) our collegiality, (2) our 4-fieldness, and (3) our funding.

I am a terrible photographer, so I apologize to those pictured; but this is us being collegial. John Blitz, Lisa LeCount, & Stephanie McClure organized a welcome party for Courtney Helfrecht & Holly Horan & their families, who just joined us this fall, so here we are chatting & eating food at that party. Clockwise from left: Dr. Rachel Cajigas (partners with Dr. Elliot Blair), Dr. Katie Chiou, Dr. Kathy Oths, Dr. Marysia Galbraith, Max DeCaro (oldest child of Dr. Jason DeCaro), & Dr. Stephanie McClure.
I am a terrible photographer, so I apologize to those pictured; but this is us being collegial. John Blitz, Lisa LeCount, & Stephanie McClure organized a welcome party for Courtney Helfrecht & Holly Horan & their families, who just joined us this fall, so here we are chatting & eating food at that party. Clockwise from left: Dr. Rachel Cajigas (partners with Dr. Elliot Blair), Dr. Katie Chiou, Dr. Kathy Oths, Dr. Marysia Galbraith, Max DeCaro (oldest child of Dr. Jason DeCaro), & Dr. Stephanie McClure.

First, what's collegiality mean, and why is it important? It means that faculty and students get along and help each other in their career and research pursuits. We take pride in our collegiality at the University of Alabama Department of Anthropology. I have never been part of or even visited a department that gets along as well as we do. Our faculty like each other and like to work together. We collaborate on research and teaching, and many of us hang out together. On the one hand, we think it models what a good workflow can look like. And we want our students to find us approachable, to treat us and their colleagues with respect, and to enjoy the hard work of completing their graduate work. On the other hand, I've been in toxic departments where people hate each other or talk smack about their colleagues, and those departments are awful places to be for everyone. People are less motivated to help each other, and, I would argue (without any statistics handy), the success rates for those students are worse than they are for comparable programs with similar resources.

This summer, Drs. Sonya Pritzker & Jason DeCaro organized a symposium to organize a program in biocultural linguistic anthropology at Moundville. We had folks join us from all over the world. Pictured here are Sonya Pritzker, Jason DeCaro, Christopher Lynn, Josh Pederson, Mackenzie Manns, Larry Monocello, & Baili Gall from UA; Susan Blum from Notre Dame; Daniel Lende from Florida Southern; Greg Downey from Macquarie; Rebecca Seligman from Northwestern; Norma Mendoza-Denton from UCLA; Andreas Roepstorff from Aarhus; & Stefanie Jannedy & Susanne Fuchs from ZAS Berlin. Photo courtesy Sonya Pritzker.

Second, we walk and talk 4-field anthropology. Admittedly, we have only one linguistic anthropologist, Dr. Sonya Pritzker, but she is an integral part of our department. We are in the process of pioneering a program in biocultural linguistic anthropology, and linguistic anthropological training is as important to us and our students as biological, cultural, and archaeological anthropological approaches. Our first-year master's students no longer have to take comprehensive exams (more on that in a future post), but we do have them write a conclusion to their thesis proposal (for thesis track MA students) or an essay that explains their research idea or vocational goals in the context of 4-field anthropology. In a time when anthropology departments continue to fracture along disciplinary lines or where subdisciplines within departments do not get along, we feel it is important to maintain this tradition and to help students make explicit connections in with all 4 subdisciplines in their efforts.

Dr. Pritzker again with a bunch of our funded MA students (i.e., her linguistic anthropology team). Clockwise from left: Serafina Grottanelli, Dillon Patterson, Baili Gall, ?, Olivia Radcliffe, Alex Sents, Sarah Shin, Mackenzie Manns with Dr. Pritzker in the middle. Photo courtesy Dr. Pritzker.
Dr. Pritzker again with a bunch of our funded MA students (i.e., her linguistic anthropology team). Clockwise from left: Serafina Grottanelli, Dillon Patterson, Baili Gall, Caleb Pepperman, Olivia Radcliffe, Alex Sents, Sarah Shin, Mackenzie Manns with Dr. Pritzker in the middle. Photo courtesy Dr. Pritzker.

Finally, many MA programs don't provide a lot of funding, but we do. We don't make any promises for the MA program like we do for the PhD, which includes 3 years of guaranteed funding for those admitted who already have an MA or 5 years for those admitted to the direct-to-doctoral program. However, we do our utmost to relieve the financial stress of graduate education and think it's as important to fund MA students as it is to fund doctoral students. Why don't we guarantee it for MA students then? Simple pragmatics. We have more applicants to the MA program, which is only two years, than to the PhD program, which takes several years more. Paying out of pocket for an MA might be manageable if necessary, while paying for one's own PhD is untenable. We don't want our students to be in student loan debt for the rest of their lives. We'd like to guarantee funding for all our students, but we don't have enough available to guarantee two years for as many students as we'd like to admit into our program. However, we have funded 100% of all our MA and PhD students for the past two years and have a good record of funding most of our students at some level for the past decade or more. What tends to happen is that we admit x number of students, some of whom we guarantee funding right out of the gate because we know it's a buyer's market out there. Then we scrounge and scrape to find other sources of funding for those who we could not make initial offers to. For instance, one of my jobs is to write letters nominating competitive applicants for the limited fellowships offered by the Graduate School. And we've been pretty successful with those because of the quality of students that apply to our program. So keep it up people---you make us look good, and we do everything we can to return the favor, providing quality education along the way.

Next post I'll write a little about what you can do with a degree in anthropology besides being an anthropologist. The world needs more people with the anthropological perspective than it needs more anthropology professors.  In the meantime, email or call with any questions about our program and funding.

Welcome to the Department of Anthropology

Dr. Christopher Lynn, Graduate Director,, (205) 348-4162

For the past several years, the UA College of Arts & Sciences has been developing the Alabama-Greece Initiative. As outlined on the Initiative website, it is an effort to "develop an extensive and formal collaborative relationship with Aristotle University in Thessaloniki (AUTh)." In 2015, archaeologist and chair of our Anthropology Department was selected for the Initiative.

Dr. Brown established a relationship with AUTh faculty developing a museum studies program & is returning this summer with UA students to conduct research at Vergina. Vergina is the site of the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, & a large, extended cemetery for the inhabitants of the city of Pella, which was Phillip's capital & Alexander's birthplace, before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 90 BC.

This year, I was selected to participate in the 2017 Initiative. Along with Luoheng Han, Ana Corbalan, Andrew Dewar, Vaia Touna, Rebecca Salzer, Amir Zaheri, and Arun Gupta, I traveled to Thessaloniki to meet with potential collaborators and develop a proposal for research. I met with George Kitsios and George Athanasopoulos and discussed plans for an exciting study I'll share more about in the future. In the meantime, following are some of the photos from our wonderful visit. Thanks to Dean Olin and our partners at AUTh for making this opportunity possible and for the lovely hospitality!


Alumni News

In 2015, Dr. Meredith Jackson-de Graffenried (PhD, 2009) became Country Director of Helen Keller International (HKI) for Bangladesh.

Max Stein, left, a UA doctoral student working in Peru, sits with Oths in her campus office (Bryan Hester).
Max Stein, left, a UA doctoral student working in Peru, sits with Oths in her campus office (Bryan Hester).

Dr. Charlan Kroelinger (MA, 1997), Team Leader for the Maternal and child Health Epidemiology Program at the CDC, was recognized with a Superior Leadership Award by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Director. "She has strengthened and expanded the program through innovative staff assignments in 13 states, mentored young professionals who will carry the field into the future, and developed new tools to better understand and communicate the importance of improving quality of care to women and their infants."

Kelsey Herndon (MA, 2015)  has been awarded a 2016 DEVELOP Program internship by NASA. They work on remote ecological forecasting and related projects.

Daniel R. Turner (BA, 2010; M. Phil Cambridge 2012) has been admitted to the PhD program in archaeology at Leiden University, Netherlands. He will be joining an archaeological project focused on the monumental architecture of Mycenaean Greece.

We're very proud of our alumni and their successes! If you know of any alumni updates that we don't, please let us know.

Kelsey Herndon (MA, 2015) teaches Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary kids as part of our department's
Kelsey Herndon (MA, 2015) teaches Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary kids as part of our department's "Anthropology is Elemental" outreach program.

Anthros in the News

In June, Dr. Kathy Oths was featured in UA's Research Magazine in "Who Will Heal? Climate Change Disrupts Ancient Medical Tradition in Andes" ( In December, Dr. Virgil "Duke" Beasley (lecturer; MA, 1997) and Dr. Matt Gage (OAR) were featured an article entitled "Using the Future to Understand the Past" (

In the July UA News ( and August 2015 Desktop News ( from the College of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Jason's DeCaro's grant from the Imagination Institute and collaboration with Dr. Ansley Gilpin (Psychology) on their project was featured .

Our departmental elementary and middle school outreach program, rechristened "Anthropology is Elemental," is pictured among the College of Arts & Sciences' "Outreach and Economic Development Programs" (

Dr. Chris Lynn was mentioned among faculty selected for the 2016 Alabama-Greece Partnership ( Dr. Lynn was also mentioned in UA News in conjunction with ALLELE series talks by evolutionary psychologist Dr. Rebecca Burch (, paleontologist Dr. Linda Ivany (, historian Dr. Ron Numbers (,

Doctoral Students

Newly minted Dr. Jenna James with her committee, Drs. Ian Brown, Michael Murphy, Jim Knight, Kathryn Braund, and Keith Jacobi.
Newly minted Dr. Jenna James with her committee, Drs. Ian Brown, Michael Murphy, Jim Knight, Kathryn Braund, and Keith Jacobi.

We are pleased with all of the successes of our students, but the defense of a doctoral dissertation is a special achievement. We want to recognize the hard work displayed by three of our students for their landmark achievement this past fall.

Jenna James successfully defended her dissertation, "Social Houses at Carson Mounds, 22-CO-518 as Evidenced by Dental Morphological Analysis" on August 14.

(Now) Dr. LisaMarie Malischke with her committee members, Drs. Michael Picone, Gregory Waselkov, John Blitz, Keith Jacobi, and Ian Brown.
(Now) Dr. LisaMarie Malischke with her committee members, Drs. Michael Picone, Gregory Waselkov, John Blitz, Keith Jacobi, and Ian Brown.

LisaMarie Malischke successfully defended her dissertation, "The Heterogeneity of Early French and Native Forts and Settlements. A Comparison to Fort St. Pierre (A.D. 1719-1729) in French Colonial Louisiane," on August 28. Jenna and LisaMarie also received their doctorates at the graduation ceremony in December.

Paul Eubanks successfully defended his dissertation, "Salt Production in the Southeastern Caddo Homeland," on November 17.

We admitted six new doctoral students in the fall, including Adrienne Bryan (MA, UCLA), Lessye DeMoss (MA, UA), Kareen Hawsey (MA, UA), Jenna Hurtabise (MA, LSU), Avery McNeece (MA, Mississippi State), and Camille Morgan (MA, UA).

Paul Eubanks with adviser Dr. Ian Brown
Paul Eubanks with adviser Dr. Ian Brown

Master's Students

Several master's students graduated in the summer 2015, including Lessye DeMoss, Johnna Dominguez, Kareen Hawsey, and Kelsey Herndon. Congratulations to the new MAs!

Subsequently, we welcomed a new class, including Anna Bianchi (BA, Birmingham Southern), Diana Simpson (BA, Wake Forest), Juliann Friel (BA, UA), Jake Aronoff (BA, Central Michigan), David Scott (BA, UA), Larry Monocello (BA, Case Western Reserve), and Robert Templin (BA, U of Pittsburgh).


Though most of our undergraduate majors graduate in May, several graduated in the summer and fall as well, including Laken Romine, Isabelle Andrade, Justin Beams, Megan Crawford, Michael Krause, Anne Lewis, and Lauren Nolan. Congratulations to those students---we wish them luck whatever their futures hold and hope they stay in touch!

Dr. Michael Murphy & his longtime collaborator, Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzalez Faraco
Dr. Michael Murphy & his longtime collaborator, Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzalez Faraco

We are all chagrined by the retirement of Dr. Michael Murphy. Dr. Murphy, who is now Professor Emeritus as of the end of the fall 2015 semester, leaves an indelible stamp on our department. As professor and chair, Michael Murphy provided a firm and friendly rudder in guiding the development of the Anthropology Department over many years. We will write a more in depth piece next issue on Michael's career and legacy and share photos from his January retirement party. Before he could completely leave the world of academic service, behind, we thought we should grab him in parting for a "10 Things You May Not Know" column for the newsletter he edited the first issue of in 2003. Michael regaled us all with many fascinating stories over the years, so coming up with things we might not know was challenging for him.

  1. "I spent a lot of time as a child in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains and the Mohave desert. My most vivid childhood recollection is of being 'chased' by a snake on my grandfather's ranch. It was probably a red racer (Coluber constrictor) and, more than 60 years later, it still visits me occasionally in dreams.
  2. My first paid job for corporate America was working in a California grape packing shed between Bakersfield and Delano when I was fifteen and sixteen. An early eye-opener about our economic system, my understanding of the experience was enhanced a year later when Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers movement gradually worked its way south to the vineyards surrounding my former place of employment.
  3. The first anthropology book I ever read was A.L. Kroeber's Handbook of the Indians of California. For some long-forgotten reason, the Baker Street Library would not allow a 12-year-old to check it out, so I had to read it, bit by bit, in situ.
  4. My first course in cultural anthropology at UCSB was taught by the great archaeologist, Jim Deetz. My first course in archaeology was conducted by Chris Peebles of Moundville fame when he was a grad student.
  5. While a grad student at UCSD in the 1970s, for five years I loved with an extraordinary ensemble of students and others in "Seacliff," the third oldest dwelling in La Jolla: solid redwood interior walls, magnificent views of the ocean located across the street, $50 per month.
  6. For over 30 years I have collaborated with my great friend Juan Carlos Gonzalez Faraco on work in southern Spain. As far as I can tell, this by far is the longest international collaboration between ethnographers of Spain. Our very first publication was co-authored with Jim Bindon and our most recent work together is as co-authors on a paper with Bill Dressler.
  7. I attended what was billed in Santa Barbara as Santana's "first concert outside of the San Francisco Bay Area."
  8. Both long-time department member, Allen Maxwell, and I were quite independently admonished by Margaret Mead for not having pen and notebook on our persons at all times. I wonder how many others got chewed out by Maggie for the same reason.
  9. My beard was once bright red.
  10. Most of you who know me, know that I definitely "married up." You just don't know how VERY high up I married! Thanks, Milady!"

Dr. Abrams meets Dr. Bindon, who helped develop our Biocultural Medical program and in whose honor the lecture series was started.
Dr. Abrams meets Dr. Jim Bindon, who helped develop our Biocultural Medical program and in whose honor the lecture series was started.

In the fall, we hosted several in-house lectures and workshops and were graced by talks by a few visiting scholars.

On October 8, we were able to take advantage of a visit to Tuscaloosa by Dr. Natilee A. McGruder, Director of the River Region Food Policy Council (RRFPC), who graced us with an Extemporaneous Talk called "The Local Food System: Getting to Know Your Neighbor." On November 6, we inaugurated our new "Biocultural Anthropology and Health Lecture Series" with a talk by UAB Professor of Philosophy Marshall Abrams entitled "Modeling the Development of Sustainable Rice Production and Religious Practice in Bali."

Lynn Funkhouser presented on the history, archaeology, and bioarchaeology of the nations first VA hospital, located outside of Pascagoula, MS for the falls first FABBL.
Lynn Funkhouser presented on the history, archaeology, and bioarchaeology of the nations first VA hospital, located outside of Pascagoula, MS for the falls first FABBL.

Several speakers participated in the FABBL (Friday Afternoon Brown Bag Lunch) series, hosted by the Anthropology Club. On September 25, doctoral candidate Lynn Funkhouser presented "The Mexican Soldiers of Greenwood Island, Mississippi." On October 9, doctoral student Courtney Andrews presented "Finding Culture in Acculturation: Does Cultural Consonance Mediate the Relationship between Acculturative Stress and Health Outcomes among Mexican Immigrants?" On October 23, doctoral candidate Rachel Briggs presented "Public Archaeology in Western North Carolina: Recent Excavations at Spanish Fort San Juan de Joara." On November 6, doctoral candidate Daniel LaDu presented "Interaction Spheres and 'Circle-Maps': Considering the Role that Extra-Regional Exchange Plays in the Process of Culture Change."

On December 4, Dr. David Meek was kind enough to give a department workshop on spatial ethnographic research design.

The line for Bill Nye tickets, day 1.
The line for Bill Nye tickets, day 1.

Finally, the Department of Anthropology is affiliated with the Alabama Lectures on Life's Evolution (ALLELE) speaker series, which hosted four lectures in the fall. On September 28, ALLELE co-hosted a talk by science personality Bill Nye the Science Guy called "The Importance of Teaching Evolution." This was the biggest ALLELE talk to date, with thousands of people turning out for three successive giveaways for roughly 5,000 tickets. Dr. Lynn wrote a summary of the event for the EvoS Consortium ( Geologist Linda Ivany (Syracuse University) gave a talk on October 15 called "The Pace of Life---The (Often) Missing Element in Studies of Evolution Using Fossils." On November 12, historian Ron Numbers (University of Wisconsin-Madison) gave a talk called "Baptizing Dinosaurs: How Once-Suspect Evidence of Evolution Came to Support the Biblical Narrative." And on December 3, evolutionary psychologist Rebecca Burch (SUNY Oswego) gave a lecture rescheduled from the spring entitled "Semen Chemistry: Implications, Innovations, and Controversy."

Our students and faculty also gave talks around the University. Dr. Marysia Galbraith gave a talk about her experience in Poznan, Poland for the Fulbright Scholar Program on September 3 entitled "Memory in Fragments: Reassembling Jewish Life in Poland." On December 4, undergraduate Lauren Pratt presented "Status and Stature in Two Prehistoric Burial Populations" in the Computer-Based Honors Program. (faculty advisors, Drs. Blitz and Jacobi).

Elliot Blair has continued his research constructing social network visualizations of aggregated mission communities in 17th century La Florida. He has also continued working on two collaborative projects using compositional analyses to examine the sourcing and circulation of glass beads in the 16th to 18th century Southeast.

John Blitz published a study of the relationship between skeuomorphs and technological change with evidence from archaeology, ethnography, and psychology. What is a skeuomorph? Look it up! Dr. Blitz co-authored a preliminary report with graduate students Jessica Kowalski and Grace Riehm on the results of the undergraduate field school investigation of Mounds A and B at Moundville Archaeological Park. The goal of the project was to date the final construction stages of the two mounds. Preliminary results suggest that Mound A construction ended by A.D. 1350, but evidence from Mound B was inconclusive.

Ian Brown has been preparing for an archaeological investigation at the site of Vergina (burial place of Phillip II of Macedonia) in Greece. He is the new editor of Teocentli, a journal that has been going since 1926 that provides a unique perspective to the history of archaeology through the use of autobiography. Dr. Brown published one book on the archaeology of coastal Louisiana and a couple of book chapters, one dealing with Plaquemine culture pottery from the Anna site in Mississippi and another on the Mangum site, a late prehistoric site in Mississippi and, with Paul Eubanks, published an article in the Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology about the archaeology of salt in eastern North America. Dr. Brown has also been working on a longtime study of the connections between prehistoric Indian mounds and historic cemeteries.

Jason DeCaro advanced two ongoing research projects, regarding the effects of food security and maternal mental health on child outcomes in Mwanza, Tanzania, and the psychobiology of school adjustment in West and Central Alabama. For the first of these projects, funded by the University of Alabama Research Grants Committee, he spent a month and a half in Tanzania collecting interview data regarding childcare practices and the social settings in which children develop - a follow-up on previous work where he and collaborators found subtle biological impacts of maternal depression. For the second of these projects, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and done in collaboration with three psychology faculty, his team measured physiological stress responses in over 300 children attending Head Start programs to see how individual differences in the stress response relate to social and emotional learning during the transition into kindergarten.

Bill Dressler is continuing work on his National Science Foundation-funded research on gene-environment interactions and depression in Brazil. Currently he is in the process of writing manuscripts for publication based on those data, two of which have been submitted (one to the American Journal of Human Biology and one to Journal of Anthropological Research; one paper based on the research was published in Field Methods in January of 2015).

Marysia Galbraith developed a new research project “Memory in Fragments: Reassembling Jewish Life in Poland” which explores the resurgence of interest in Jewish culture in Poland, and in particular local-level projects that preserve and commemorate tangible and intangible heritage even in the absence of Jews. She spent the 2014-2015 academic year in Poznan, Poland, funded by a sabbatical leave, Fulbright Fellowship, and UA’s Research Grants Committee Award. She will return to Poland in summer 2016 to continue research.

Keith Jacobi continued his bioarchaeological research of warfare and violence in the prehistoric Southeastern U.S. in general and northern Alabama in particular. He is also assessing the reliability of cadaver dogs for a forthcoming article.

Lisa LeCount directed the Actuncan Archaeological Project in Belize Central America for the seventh year from May 19 until July 19, 2015. Research focused on the site’s E-group, a type of mound complex known to be the earliest public architecture on many ancient Maya sites. Goals of the excavations were to determine the types of activities performed on the mounds and the date of construction episodes. The work was funded by the National Geographic Society: Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE 9658-15) and UA’s College Academy for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity.

Chris Lynn continued data collection for a study of fireside relaxation, began new data collection and analysis for the tattooing and immune response study, started a new study of the influence a career in anthropology has on family life, and initiated a collaboration to investigate the relationship between psychological absorption and the genetic polymorphism COMT.

Steve Kosiba continued his research on the religious and ritual practices that constituted Inca authority in the capital of their empire (Cuzco, Peru). He is preparing a manuscript on how the construction of the Inca temple at Huanacauri manifested Inca notions of time and divine rulership (for Latin American Antiquity). Kosiba recently submitted a co-authored article (with Andrew Bauer, Stanford University) to the Journal of Social Archaeology and two grant proposals (National Geographic Society and National Science Foundation) for archaeological and historical research at Rumiqolqa, a quarry and colony where the Inca and Spanish Empire forcibly relocated hundreds of workers to cut stone for the construction of the city of Cuzco.

David Meek is currently developing several new research projects. The first is a geostatistical analysis of rural school closings in Brazil. This study seeks to assess whether race and the development of agroindustrial capital are factors behind the massive wave of school closures. The second is a study of learning in transnational social movement exchanges. This project explores how social movement activists learn through becoming embedded in communities of practice.

Kathy Oths continues to work up her new data on treatment choice from her restudy of the northern Peruvian Andes hamlet of Chugurpampa, where she worked over 25 years ago.  Topics include changes and continuities in medical beliefs and practices, secular trends in child growth, and the demographic transition, all in the context of modernization and climate change.  She has been aided in her analyses by three incredible Emerging Scholars, Hannah Smith, Rachel Madey, and Fatima Becerra.  She has also finished two ethnographic films on a highland huesero (bonesetter) this past fall, in collaboration with Adam Booher.

Sonya Pritzker joined the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama in August 2015. She has continued to publish on the translation of Chinese medicine in various venues, including the Routledge Handbook of Chinese Translation and the Routledge Handbook of Chinese Medicine. Her recent research has been focused on an ongoing project examining the development of integrative psychologically oriented Chinese medicine (IPOCM) in China, funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. This research documents, through close ethnographic study of everyday clinical encounters, the emergence of IPOCM through interactive practice in various clinical settings.

Jo Weaver returned to rural Brazil for the 2015 field season, where she conducted preliminary research on eating habits, common recipes, and prestige and non-prestige foods in the community. This research was supported by a grant from UA's Research Grants Committee. Future phases of the work, which will also include research sites in Haiti and Ethiopia, will be funded by a National Science Foundation senior award.

It is with much sadness that, in addition to sharing the accomplishments of our department over the past months, we also say goodbye to friends. In June 2015, we received news that Dr. John Cottier had passed away. In addition to being a wonderful person and a fine archaeologist, he was a good friend to all of us in Alabama and was a standard feature at the DeJarnette barbecue. He established the Auburn Archaeology Lab and provided the initial training for many students who made their way to UA. He was in fact a student of David DeJarnette's, having received his M.A. with us in 1970. Our condolences to his family, students, colleagues, and friends.

Ruby Howard, 2000 (I. Brown)
Ruby Howard, 2000 (I. Brown)

In December, we were also saddened to lose Ruby Howard, a dear friend and our department's longtime Graduate Secretary and receptionist. Several of our faculty and students who knew her shared their remembrances:

Ruby Howard was a facilitator and an enabler. And I mean that in a good sense. Ruby made things happen. She made things easy. Long before arriving on campus in 1991, to assume my new job as Associate Professor, Ruby was in contact with me. She was a fountain of information on all that was Tuscaloosa and UA. She conjured up places to live, eating venues, and things to do when once my family arrived. She knew we had two small children, so words of wisdom were offered on schools, churches, doctors, dentists—you name it! Ruby Howard was my own personal travel agent it seemed. I really wasn’t used to so much attention from a stranger, but it was hard to resist Ruby’s helping hand. My family couldn’t accompany me in the bleak winter of 1991, so I really didn’t need a house. “Not to worry,” said Ruby, “I’ve secured for you a place in Ed Williams’ remodeled basement, just a few minutes walk from department.” Okay, I needed to be careful in voicing issues, because no matter what I said, every need announced, any question asked, and Ruby was immediately there with supplies or answers. I initially thought that I must be a very special person in Ruby’s eyes, but later learned that this was the way she was with everyone. For Ruby Howard everyone was indeed a special person, and because of that she made our department a warm and inviting place for any and all who walked in the door. I can still see her smiling face as she said “Good morning” each day. Never angry, never sad, always glowing, always ready to pick up the phone and find the solution from her myriad of contacts on campus. That was Ruby Howard. It took a long time following her retirement for all of us in the Department of Anthropology to come to terms with her absence. That she was no longer with the University was impossible. How ever could we survive without Ruby? But she did leave our world, and now she is no longer with The World, but, with that said, the world is a far better place for Ruby having been a part of it. She will always be missed and she will always be with us.

---Ian W. Brown, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology

Ruby Howard was a truly exceptional person. Although she only worked 20 hours a week, she did more than most full-time employees and always did it with a smile and a kind word. She was unfailingly pleasant, never seemed to be sad (if she was, she never let on) and always did whatever she could to help everyone she encountered. Student, professor, book salesperson, janitor; anyone who came through the door would benefit from her presence. During my years as Chairperson she did everything she could to help Sue and me adjust to the University and to Tuscaloosa. She located the house we rented in Northport when we first arrived in 1986 as well as the one we later purchased without us asking. She even helped us convince Mrs. T., the elderly widow from whom we bought our house, that we were “worthy” of it. Another notable trait was her devotion to her family. A widow with two small children, Ruby made certain they grew up to be well educated and respectable adults. She spoke with them often on the office telephone and you could always know who she was talking to by the stern note in her voice. She was extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of Tuscaloosa and its people, and quite willing to share what she knew with newcomers.  As an outsider, I could never have navigated the town and campus as well as I did in my first years without her. She was a true Southern Lady in the very best sense of the term and is missed by all who had the good fortune to know her.

---Richard Diehl, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology

For those who didn't have the pleasure of knowing Ms. Ruby, you lost out on something truly special. She was one of the finest ladies I've ever known. I still recall the first time I met Ms. Ruby in the departmental office. She already knew I was from Mississippi, and made sure to inform me about the other graduate students who hailed from the Magnolia State. It was a delight to her that there were a passel of southerners in my cohort, for the simple reason that she was happy that we had a chance to further our education and show the world that our geography had nothing to do with our potential. No matter where you were from though, she cared, with all her being. Her jacket was red, her lips were red, her necklace was big, and her heart was huge.

As a graduate student, I could always rely on Ms. Ruby giving encouragement during the desperate hours, and she ALWAYS helped to get students through university bureaucracy and hurdles. Ms. Ruby unfailingly put the students at the top of her concerns. She would make the call that needed to be made to someone, somewhere on campus to get things dealt with for me, and anyone else who needed help. She never failed to give a smile when you saw her, and a hug when needed. Ms. Ruby was as important for my successfully getting through UA as my professors. When we finished our M.A. degrees, she was genuinely proud of all of us (even the Yankees), and it was obvious she was a little sad to see us go. We were her birds leaving the nest.  This is heartbreaking for me. She will always be sorely missed. Rest in Peace Ms. Ruby: you were a Real Southern Lady.

---Virgil Roy "Duke" Beasley, III, Cultural Resources Investigator, University of Alabama Museums, Office of Archaeological Research

From our December 2003 department newsletter Vol 1, Issue 3), honoring Ruby Howard for receiving the McKinley Award.
From our December 2003 department newsletter Vol 1, Issue 3), honoring Ruby Howard for receiving the McKinley Award.

I worked with Ruby for 18 years in the department. Although our ages  were years apart, Ruby was young at heart and a mentor to many. She impacted my life immensely. She possessed such a positive attitude and faced life with such vigor. She gave me advice on children, church, husband, work and I consider her to be one of the best friends I've ever known. She made all parents feel at ease who visited with their soon to be freshmen and made them so welcome with her genuine caring ways. She possessed a wealth of knowledge on any subject and freely gave it!  You simply trusted her advice and judgment. Ruby always knew of any news before it was news, especially State government as well as UA government!  She helped me become a more confident person over the years, and she was my second mother.

Ruby was a young widow who lost her husband in her 40s. She raised two small children who became outstanding adults and educators. She never gave them any slack. She never minded discipline, and her children always respected and "minded" their mom.

Ruby was quite the prankster too! Many mornings I would arrive at work frustrated from running late and getting children off to school and Ruby would find a hiding spot behind a door and jump out and shout "boo"! After screaming we would laugh til we cried and when I regained my composure and got my coffee retreating to my office to get serious with work, nothing wakes you more than reaching for your computer mouse and looking down to see a big life like rubber roach! Coffee flying after my blood curdling screams and more laughter! Ruby was quite a character and always comical!

I loved her, and the Department was better for having a "Ruby" to represent it.

---Pam Chesnutt, retired Administrative Assistant, Department of Anthropology

Our long-time secretary and friend, Ruby Howard, embodied a number of the great virtues of university life. She knew a lot about important matters and she was very generous in sharing her knowledge. Her understanding of the minutiae governing the administrative processes of our collective business at UA was unparalleled. Because the arcane details of how the university is supposed to work are constantly changing, if she was unsure about how someone needed to do something, she knew precisely the right person to ask about it. Her personal social network within the institution was simply awesome. These days whenever I conduct a frustrating search on the UA website, I think about how much more efficient she was in quickly getting to exactly the information required. Ruby was way better than Google, before there was a  Google. She also had a talent for gently encouraging her many contacts in the administration to cut some slack, or recommend a secret go-around, for a woebegone professor or student who failed to do this or that in a timely manner. Ruby excelled at helping people extract themselves from misadventures of their own creation.

Her skills in these areas extended far beyond our campus. Her knowledge of and her contacts within the wider Tuscaloosa/Northport community were also without peer. Many of us learned a good deal from Ruby, not only about such matters as who to call when the basement floods, but also about how our wider community really works, about the historical and social connections between local power brokers, and about what developments are looming just beyond the horizon.

But above and beyond her knowledge, her social connections and her generosity in sharing them both with her friends in the department, Ruby was simply a very kind person. she exuded good will; being helpful was not part of a job description for her, it was who she was.

---Michael D. Murphy, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology


John BlitzEvery semester we profile a faculty or staff member from the Anthropology Department who you may see every day but know less about than you realize. In fact, many of us became interested in anthropology because of the interesting adventures it presents. Dr. John Blitz (, Professor of Anthropology and Curator at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, is a classic example. He is an anthropological archaeologist whose research has focused mostly on precolumbian Mississippian societies of the American Southeast, but his experiences are much more diverse. Here are 10 things about Dr. Blitz and his interesting life you may not already know:

  1. He has had two completely different first and last names during his life.
  2. In Ethiopia, he entered Emperor Haile Selassie’s lion’s den and petted a lion.
  3. He has fished with dynamite.
  4. He participated in a shaman’s curing ceremony in the Ecuadorian rain forest but fell asleep because it was so boring.
  5. He crossed the Nile from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings in a dhow.
  6. He helped map an underwater shipwreck in the Florida Keys before he decided archaeology on dry land was hard enough.
  7. He went four days without eating in the mountains of Utah on a vision quest.
  8. He once had two pet bush babies named Teeny and Weeny.
  9. He survived a street car accident on Halloween night in New Orleans.
  10. He loves to dance.

Check our blog and newsletter archives for things you didn't know about our other fascinating anthropology faculty and staff.

Invited Lectures

Several of our faculty were invited to give lectures around the country this past fall. Dr. Lesley Jo Weaver flew to Arizona State University on October 23 to give a talk for their School of Human Evolution and Social change entitled "Chronic Diseases in India: A Biocultural Approach” and another for Smith College's South Asian Studies Concentration (Connecticut) entitled “Studying Illness in India: The Case of Type 2 Diabetes and Mental Health.” Dr. Marysia Galbraith was invited to give a guest lecture at UA called "Memory in Fragments: Reassembling Jewish Life in Poland" and to provide information about Fulbright opportunities for students and faculty on September 3. She gave a version of this lecture called "The Holocaust in Historical Perspective" on October 15 for Dr. Steve Jacobs' Religious Studies class (REL 223). Dr. Jason DeCaro was invited to give a lecture as part of the William W. Winternitz Conference for the College of Community Health Science at UA in September entitled "Culture gets under the skin: The implications of everyday experience for human biology and health." Dr. Sonya Pritzer was also invited to give a Winternitz Lecture (December 1) entitled "Conducting Research in Integrative Medicine." Dr. Kathy Oths was invited to give a lecture for the UAB Honors Program on September 28 entitled "Farmers Markets and Foodies: Conflict, Change, and Resolution in Tuscaloosa, Alabama." Dr. Lisa LeCount was invited to give a Spark Talk for the Gulf Coast Exploreum on November 5th entitled "Like Water for Chocolate: The Importance of Ka'Kaw in Domestic and Political Rituals among the Ancient Maya of Central America."

Conference Panels and Presentations

Our students and faculty are always well-represented at conferences, both in terms of session organizing and presenting, and this past fall was no exception.

American Anthropological Association (AAA), 114th Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, November 17-22

  • DeCaro JA. What Constitutes a 'Constitution?' Biological Sensitivity, Canalization, and the Biocultural Substrates of Differential Resilience. In the symposium, Stress and Health from Genes to Culture: Genetic, Epigenetic, Developmental and Biocultural Interactions.
  • Dressler WW, and JA DeCaro. Organized symposium Stress and Health from Genes to Culture: Genetic, Epigenetic, Developmental and Biocultural Interactions.
  • Dressler WW. Culture as a Mediator of Gene-Environment Interaction. In the symposium, Stress and Health from Genes to Culture: Genetic, Epigenetic, Developmental and Biocultural Interactions.
  • Kosiba, S. Animism and Authority in the Indigenous Americas. In the symposium, Sacred Matter: Animism and Authority in the Indigenous Americas.
  • LeCount, LJ, J Yaeger, B Cap, and B Simova (MA former). Tangled Web: Classic-period Political Pragmatics on Naranjo’s Eastern Frontier in the Mopan River Valley. In the symposium, Beyond the Familiar: Towards a Pragmatic Model for Classic Maya Political Organization.
  • Lynn, CD , and M Howells. Anthropologists, Kids, and Careers: When Family is Strange and the Field Familiar. In the symposium, Hidden Motivations and Glossed Justifications: Problems and Priorities in Biocultural Field Research.
  • Meek, D. Organized symposium Educating for Food Sovereignty (two sessions; invited by the Culture & Agriculture section).
  • Oths, KS, & HN Smith (BA current). Ecological, Social, and Cultural Contributions to Rapid Secular Change in Child Growth in Andean Peru.
  • Pritzker, S. Making the Strange Familiar and the Familiar Strange: Reinventing Classical Theories of Chinese Medical Psychology in Contemporary Beijing. In the symposium, Making Strange Traditions Familiar in Conventional and Complementary Therapeutic Settings.
  • Pritzker, S. Organized symposium Making strange traditions familiar in conventional and complementary therapeutic settings.
  • Pritzker, S. Organized open business meeting Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Integrative Medicine (IM) Group.
  • Thomas, M (PhD current). The Social Ecology of HIV Risk Among Southern African American Female Youth. In the symposium, “Anthropology and HIV/AIDS: Has the Strange Become Too Familiar?”
  • Weaver, LJ. Raced Encounters in Fieldwork: Reflections and Questions. In the symposium, “Hidden Motivations and Glossed Justifications: Problems and Priorities in Biocultural Field Research.
  • Weaver, LJ, and CD Lynn. Organized symposium Hidden Motivations and Glossed Justifications: Problems and Priorities in Biocultural Field Research (Invited session sponsored by the Biological Anthropology Section and the General Anthropology Division).

Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management, 37th Annual Fall Research Conference, Miami, FL, November 12-14

  • Boxmeyer C, Gilpin A, DeCaro JA, Lochman J, Mitchell Q. Power PATH: Integrated Two-Generation Social Emotional Intervention for Head Start Preschoolers and their Parents.

Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP), 7th Annual Meeting, Greenville, SC, September 24-27

  • Galbraith, M. "Do Not Open: Heritage in Embodied Silences."

Belize Archaeology and Anthropology Symposium (BAAS), 13th Annual Conference, San Ignacio, Belize, June 29-July 3

  • LJ LeCount. Founding Families, Collective Action and Urban Settlement Patterns at Actuncan, Belize.

Cognitive Development Society, 9th Biennial Meeting, Columbus, OH, October 9-10

  • Nancarrow A, Gilpin A, Boxmeyer C, DeCaro JA, Lochman J. Roles of Self-Regulation and Familial Economic Stress on Head Start School Readiness.
  • Thibodeau RB, Brown MM, Gilpin AT, Boxmeyer C, DeCaro JA, Lochman J. Relations between Executive Functions in Childhood across Multiple Informants.

Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA), 75th Annual Meeting, Pittsburg, PA, March 24-28

  • Oths, KS, & HN Smith (BA current). Rapid Ecological, Social, and Cultural Change in the Northern Peruvian Andes and Its Effects on Child Growth.

Society for Psychological Anthropology (SPA), Biennial Meeting, Boston, MA, April 9-12

  • DeCaro JA. Enculturing the Brain: Toward a Neuroanthropology of Childhood.

Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC), 72nd Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN, November 20

  • De Vore, W (Adjunct), and K Jacobi. Facial Mutilations Associated with Scalpings from the Middle Tennessee River Valley. Invited participant Middle Tennessee Valley Excavations Revisited: Bioarchaeological Research on Personal and Communal Identities.
  • Eubank, P (PhD current). Salt Production in the Southeastern Caddo Homeland.
  • Funkhouser, JL (PhD current). Preliminary Investigations of an Early Moundville Cemetery. Invited participant Middle Tennessee Valley Excavations Revisited: Bioarchaeological Research on Personal and Communal Identities.
  • Gordon, F and W De Vore (Adjunct). Surviving Childhood: Evidence of Violence in Children from the Middle Tennessee River Valley. Invited participant Middle Tennessee Valley Excavations Revisited: Bioarchaeological Research on Personal and Communal Identities.
  • Hawsey, K (PhD current). White Oak Creek Archaeology in Dallas County, Alabama.
  • Ide, J (Moundville). Juvenile Identities, Communal Burials, and their Cultural Implications. Invited participant Middle Tennessee Valley Excavations Revisited: Bioarchaeological Research on Personal and Communal Identities.
  • Morgan, C (PhD current). Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Warfare Really Hurts Me. Invited participant Middle Tennessee Valley Excavations Revisited: Bioarchaeological Research on Personal and Communal Identities.
  • Nelson, TC (PhD current). Debates on Group Identity: Revisiting the McKee Island Phase in Guntersville Basin, Alabama. Invited participant for Middle Tennessee Valley Excavations Revisited: Bioarchaeological Research on Personal and Communal Identities.
  • Stewart, A (PhD current). Does Infection in Life Trump Treatment in Death? Burial Differences and Treponemal  Infection. Invited participant for Middle Tennessee Valley Excavations Revisited: Bioarchaeological Research on Personal and Communal Identities.
  • Thompson, B (MA former). Bioarchaeological Analysis of Prehistoric Skeletal Populations from the Middle Tennessee River Valley in North Alabama. Invited participant for Middle Tennessee Valley Excavations Revisited: Bioarchaeological Research on Personal and Communal Identities.
  • Thompson, VD, AD Roberts Thompson, J Speakman, EH Blair, and A Hunt. All that Glitters Is Not Gold: pXRF Analysis of Gilded Beads from Spanish Period Sites in the Southeast.

3MT winners with Dean Franko, including Sandra Lucia Almeida Zambrano, Anjana Venkatesan, Jordan Rippy, Territa L. Pool, and Courtney Andrews (Source:
3MT winners with Dean Franko, including Sandra Lucia Almeida Zambrano, Anjana Venkatesan, Jordan Rippy, Territa L. Pool, and Courtney Andrews (Source:

Several students and faculty received grants, awards, and other honors this past fall. Congratulations to all. You make us very proud!


Doctoral student Courtney Andrews placed fourth in the 3rd annual Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. The Alabama Center for Public Television is working on stories about the finalists and the 3MT that should air in the spring.

The College of Arts & Sciences selected Johnna Dominguez's (MA, 2015) thesis entitled "'Nice Ink, Man': A Biocultural, Mixed Methods Approach to Tattooing as Costly Honest Signaling among Southern Women" for the 2015 Outstanding Thesis Award and Paul Eubank's dissertation "Salt Production in the Southeastern Caddo Homeland" for Outstanding Dissertation Research Award. She will be recognized at Honors Day in the spring. Congratulations to Johnna, Paul, and their advisers, Drs. Chris Lynn and Ian Brown, respectively.

The College of Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Creativity and Research Academy (UCRA) awarded $500 to undergraduates Ashley Daugherty, Nick Roy, and Caitlyn Walker (Dr. Chris Lynn, adviser) toward travel expenses to present “Sexual Fluidity Positively Influences Group-Oriented Prosocial Behavior” at the American Association for Physical Anthropology conference in Atlanta, GA this spring.

At the 2015 holiday party, Paul Eubanks was awarded the Panamerican Award for Scholarly Excellence in Archaeology, while Jessica Kowalski was presented with the Richard Krauss Award for Teaching, Research, and Service by a Graduate Student in Anthropology.

Thanks to generous support from the graduate school, a number of our students have received funds for research or conference travel for the fall term. They are: Martina Thomas ($300), Paul Eubanks ($300+$300 supplement as a graduate ambassador), Mirjam Holleman ($300), Clay Nelson ($200), and Rachel Briggs ($200). Each of these students also has received $100 from the Anthropology Department toward presentations at Southeastern Archaeology Conference, American Anthropological Association annual meeting, and elsewhere.


Dr. Lesley Jo Weaver received an NSF Senior Award for her work on food insecurity and mental health in Brazil. This is a collaborative 3-site project with her colleagues at Emory and Duke who work in Ethiopia and Haiti, respectively. It consists of two separate grant submissions, one from UA with Jo as the PI, and one from Emory With her colleague as the PI. The grant supports 3 phases of research scheduled to span 3 years in each site.

Congratulations to Dr. Jason DeCaro (and Psychology collaborator Dr. Ansley Gilpin) on the receiving of a major grant from the Imagination Institute. Imagination Institute "grants are aimed at the development of better ways of assessing and promoting imagination and creativity," according to the Penn News press release. Drs. DeCaro and Gilpin "will receive $199,940 to advance the measurement and improvement of fantasy orientation and imaginative play in children. They aim to answer two important questions to propel research in childhood imagination: How is children’s imagination best defined and measured? and can imagination be stimulated to enhance children’s development?”

Dr. David Meek is the recipient of a $1,000 travel award. By virtue of this award, The Academic Conference and Presentation Committee recognizes his participation in The 6th International Conference of the Network of School Gardens, which "will support the dissemination of community engagement research and scholarship and provide relevant training opportunities."



Blair, EH.“Glass Beads and Global Itineraries.” In Things in Motion: Object Itineraries in Archaeological Practice, edited by R Joyce and S Gillespie, pp. 81-99. School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe.

Blitz, JH and LE Downs*, eds. Graveline: A Late Woodland Platform Mound on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Archaeological Report No. 34. Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, Mississippi. 39 figures, 27 tables, 156 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-938896-00-5.

Brown, IW. Plaquemine Culture Pottery from the Great Ravine at the Anna Site (22AD500), Adams County, Mississippi. In Exploring Southeastern Archaeology, edited by P Galloway and E Peacock. Oxford, MS: University Press of Mississippi.

DeCaro, J. Beyond catecholamines: Measuring autonomic responses to psychosocial context. American Journal of Human Biology. Epub ahead of print, doi/10.1002/ajhb.22815/.

DeCaro, J, M Manyama, and W Wilson. Household-level predictors of maternal mental health and systemic inflammation among infants in Mwanza, Tanzania. American Journal of Human Biology Epub ahead of print, doi/10.1002/ajhb.22807/.

Eubanks, P, and IW Brown. Certain Trends in Eastern Woodlands Salt Production Technology. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, 40(3):231–256.

James, HR*, Y Manresa*, RL Metts*, CD Lynn, and B Brinkman. The Effects of Performance-Based Education on Evolutionary Attitudes and Literacy EvoS Journal: The Journal of Evolutionary Studies Consortium 71:44-56,

Lynn, CD. Family diversity. Anthropology News (online),

Lynn, CD. Cheap thrills and elementary anthropology. Anthropology News 56 (9-10):29.

Meek, D. Taking research with its roots: restructuring schools in the Brazilian landless workers' movement upon the principles of a political ecology of education. Journal of Political Ecology 22: 410-428.

Burns, R, and D Meek. The politics of knowledge production in the geoweb. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(3):786-790.

Meek, D, and R Tarlau. Critical food systems education and the question of race. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. Advance online publication,

Murphy, MD, and JC Gonzalez Faraco. El Rocio del Baron de Davillier y Gustave Dore.  Exvoto 5 (4): 161-182.

Panakhyo, M* and K Jacobi. Limited Circumstances: Creating a Better Understanding of Prehistoric Peoples through the Reanalysis of Collections of Commingled Human Remains.  In Theoretical Approaches to Analysis and Interpretation of Commingled Human Remains, edited by A Osterholtz, pp. 75-96.  Springer, New York.

Simova, B*, DW Mixter, and LJ LeCount.  The Social Lives of Structures: Ritual Resignification of the Cultural Landscape at Actuncan, Belize.  Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 12:193-204.

Weaver, LJ, SV Madhu. Type 2 diabetes and anxiety symptoms among women in New Delhi, India. American Journal of Public Health, 105(11):2335-2340.

Weaver, LJ. Challenges of mixed methods research. Anthropology News 56 (7-8):14. doi/10.1111/j.1556-3502.2015.560705_s.x/.

Weaver, LJ. Talking about race with "white person bias." Anthropology News (online),

*UA graduate or former student.

Dr. Oths conducting fieldwork in the Peruvian highlands.
Kathy Oths conducting fieldwork in the Peruvian highlands.

In our ongoing effort to bring more depth to our play (name that ethnographic reference), we bring you 10 things you may not know about Professor Kathy Oths. Dr. Oths is Professor of Anthropology in our Biocultural Medical track, specializing in medical anthropology in Latin America. In addition:

  1. "I was raised in a small Appalachian coal mining town in Southeastern Ohio.
  2. The first record I bought as a kid was a 45 rpm single by Johnny Cash for 83 cents.
  3. As a Wellston High School sophomore, I was elected queen of the First Annual Sweetheart Dance by the student body.
  4. I was a VISTA volunteer on the Navajo Reservation in 1980 doing carpentry, solar energy, and weatherization.
  5. I lived for 6 months in a Spanish nunnery.
  6. I was scrum half for the Stanford Women’s Rugby team.
  7. Of all the manual labor jobs I’ve done, the slime line (pulling roe and milt out of salmon guts) for an Alaska fish factory was the most ‘exotic’… and smelly.
  8. I was a food carnie in a past life---part of my grad school education was financed by selling fry bread tacos at fairs and festivals from a traveling booth I built.
  9. During my second year of college, psychologist Ernest Hilgard hired me as a research assistant to hypnotize subjects.
  10. I was the occasional roadie for The Vivians, an alt grrrl band from Cleveland."

The Department of Anthropology is pleased to be able to announce the hiring of two new faculty members. Dr. Sonya Pritzker and Elliot Blair have been hired in tenure-track positions beginning in August to fulfill the Department's needs in Linguistics and Archaeology, respectively.

pritzker headshotDr. Sonya Pritzker is a medical and linguistic anthropologist whose research focuses on the management and expression of emotion in China, the development of Chinese medical psychology in the U.S. and China, and the translation of Chinese medicine in the U.S. Her book, Living Translation: Language and the Search for Resonance in U.S. Chinese Medicine, was published in 2014. Since completing her Ph.D. at UCLA in 2011, she has worked as a faculty researcher in the UCLA Department of Medicine, where she has received further training in clinical translational science and has participated in team science projects examining the neuroanthropology of IBS, the treatment of obesity with Chinese medicine, and the development of innovative research methods in integrative medicine. Prior to her doctoral studies in anthropology, she completed her masters training in Chinese medicine and has been a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine since 2002. She is involved in several national and international organizations focused on the development of integrative medicine in the U.S. and beyond, including the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health and the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research. She is also Co-Chair of the Society of Medical Anthropology's special interest group on complementary/alternative medicine and integrative medicine, and is affiliated faculty at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Helfgott Research Institute at the National College of Natural Medicine, and the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. She has received research funding from the U.S. Department. of State, the U.S. Department of Education, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the UCLA Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research.

Elliot BlairDr. Elliot Blair is an anthropological archaeologist whose research focuses on the early colonial and Late Mississippian periods in the American Southeast. His current research focuses on population aggregation and identity at Mission Santa Catalina de Guale, a 16th and 17th century Spanish mission located in coastal Georgia. Drawing upon practice-based approaches to the archaeology of colonialism and exploring identity through situated learning theory, he examines the persistence of social identities as diverse populations formed new communities under the pressures of missionization. In his work he uses social network analysis to explore the structure of past social relationships at multiple scales. His interests sit at the intersection of empirical, archaeometric analyses and a social archaeology of materiality and identity. In addition to archaeological survey and excavation, he draws upon a diverse suite of methodologies and materials, incorporating shallow geophysics, artifact compositional analysis (e.g., glass trade beads), and ceramic analysis in his research. Prior to completing his doctorate, he worked for the American Museum of Natural History. He has also worked on archaeological projects in Alaska, California, Mongolia, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the British Virgin Islands.

Additionally, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Christopher Lynn received tenure this spring and was promoted to Associate Professor as of August. Dr. Lynn was hired as an Assistant Professor in 2009 and was recognized for his past six years of academic achievement, teaching proficiency, and record of service. Dr. Lynn has published numerous articles outlining his research in the cognitive science of religion, cognitive evolution, and the development of the Evolutionary Studies program and Human Behavioral Ecology Research Group at Alabama. Dr. Lynn is a biological anthropologist and part of our Biocultural Medical Anthropology focus and has developed and teaches numerous courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, including "Evolution for Everyone," "Monkeys, Apes and Other Primates," and "Anthropology of Sex." Finally, Dr. Lynn's services extends from establishing our Department Facebook page and Bama Anthro Blog Network to chairing the Tech Committee and editing our newsletter to serving on the University's steering committee for the ALLELE series and establishing courses in elementary-level Anthropology as part of our Department's outreach efforts. We are pleased that Dr. Lynn will be with us for the foreseeable future!

Experiential learning is important across the University of Alabama, and Anthropology is no different. Students in my "Primate Religion and Human Consciousness" (UH 300) and "Evolution for Everyone" courses had fun (I hope) this semester with a few of the activities I set up. Primate Religion & Human Consciousness is a course in the cognitive science of religion I teach every spring for the Honors College. This semester we explored cooperation and prosociality by replicating Milgram's "lost letter" study in Tuscaloosa. Students stuffed envelopes with fake money and sheets with pre-set locations, addressed the envelopes to me, put stamps on them, and dropped them off around town to see how many would be returned from various districts. They also chose cooperative groups (two teams chose churches and the other team chose the UA swim team) to investigate how cooperation is inculcated and maintained. I was impressed at the students' integration of the two activities in developing conclusions about the roles of sociality in communities that were contrary to many of their initial expectations.

In "Evolution for Everyone" (ANT 150), the goal is to expose students to evolutionary principles and their cross-disciplinary applications and implications. This semester, drawing instructor Charlotte Wegrzynowski introduced students to the principles of drawing, which was once a basic skill of field naturalists before the age of photography. This activity emphasized different ways of knowing and the details we often miss or can never understand without the experience of paying close attention to the parts that make up the whole and the connections between our intellectual and kinesthetic experiences.

Several of our faculty were invited to give lectures:

Dr. Bill Dressler, Invited Lecture, East Carolina University, April 10, 2015.
Dr. Bill Dressler, Invited Lecture, East Carolina University, April 10, 2015.

Dr. Bill Dressler was invited to the Departments of Anthropology and Public Health at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC on April 10 to give a lecture entitled "Cultural Consonance: Linking  Culture, the Individual, and Health."

Dr. Chris Lynn was invited to speak to the EvoS program at SUNY New Paltz in New Paltz, NY on April 13 and gave a lectured called "Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis." Dr. Lynn also collaborated with colleagues Dr. Michaela Howells and Katherine Cully at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, who were invited to conduct a workshop called "Understanding Humans: Using an Anthropological Approach in STEM Classrooms" at the 1st Annual K-12 STEM Education Conference in Wilmington, NC on January 9.

Additionally, our Department was well-represented by undergraduate and graduate students and faculty at spring conferences, workshops, and events:

Alabama Archaeological Society Winter Meeting, Florence, AL, January 24

Eubanks, Paul N. Salt production technology in Southern Alabama and the Greater Southeast.

Alabama Science Teachers Association conference, Birmingham, AL, March 3-4

Lynn, Christopher D., and Greg Batchelder. Anthropology is Elementary: Translating the Science of Humanness through Hands-On Activities.

Caddo Conference Organization Annual Meeting, Arkadelphia, AK, March 27-28

Eubanks, Paul N. Salt production trends in the Caddo homeland and in the Southeastern United States.

Ashley Daugherty and Melinda Carr explaining their NEEPS poster, Boston,  MA.
Ashley Daugherty and Melinda Carr explaining their NEEPS poster, Boston, MA.

Darwin Day Colloquium, Tuscaloosa, AL, February 12

Daugherty, Ashley, and Melinda Carr. Fireside Relaxation: A Burning Question.

Friel, Juliann. Reflections on Being Human.

Human Biology Association Annual Scientific Meeting, St. Louis, MO, March 25-27

Dominguez, Johnna T., Jason A. DeCaro, and Christopher D. Lynn. Tattooing as Protection against Enemy Arrows: Enhanced Immune Response among the Heavily Tattooed as an Allostatic Stress Response.

Lynn, Christopher D., Juliann Friel, William Evans, and Baba Brinkman. Evolution Education through Excitement and Anger: “Rap Guide to Evolution” Influences on Skin Conductance..

Louisiana Archaeological Society Annual Meeting, Leesville, LA, February 20-22

Eubanks, Paul N. A summary of the 20-14 excavations at Drake's Salt Works.

Mississippi Archaeological Association annual meeting, Greenwood, MS, April 11

Funkhouser, Lynn and Daniel LaDu. The faunal record at Mazique (22Ad502): Initial impressions from the 2013 field season.

Kowalski, Jessica A. and H. Edwin Jackson. On the Mound trail: Mississippian polities in the Lower Yazoo Basin.

Malischke, LisaMarie. Watercolor ideal versus architectural reality: New interpretations of Fort St. Pierre, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society, Boston, MA, April 9-11

Carr, Melinda, Ashley Daugherty, and Christopher Lynn. A Burning Question: Fireside Relaxation.

Lynn, Christopher D., and Max J. Stein. Religious Collectivity and the Behavioral Immune System in Limón Province, Costa Rica.

Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, April 15-19

Eubanks, Paul N. and Ian W. Brown. Salt production and economic specialization at Drake's Salt Works.

LeCount, Lisa J. and David W. Mixter.  Organized symposium Lowland Maya Territories: Local Dynamics in Regional Landscapes

LeCount, Lisa J. and David W. Mixter.  Between Earth and Sky: The Social and Political Construction of Ancient Lowland Maya Territories.

Lessye DeMoss at SfAA, Pittsburgh Photo: K.Oths)
Lessye DeMoss at SfAA, Pittsburgh (Photo: K.Oths)

Society for Applied Anthropology, Pittsburgh, PA, March 24-28

DeMoss, Lessye. Cultural models for life preparation: An exploration of young American men's shared understandings of this developmental task.

Dressler, William W. What is generalized cultural consonance?

Morrow, Sarah Elizabeth. Shared beliefs without shared consensus: A look at experiential model development in food insecure women.

Oths, Kathryn and Hannah Smith. Rapid ecological, social, and cultural change in the Northern Peruvian Andes and its effects on child growth.

Read-Wahidi, Mary Rebecca. Continuity and change in Guadalupan devotion.

Weaver, Lesley Jo, Bonnie Kaiser, and Craig Hadley. Food insecurity and mental health in three settings: Preliminary results and future directions.

Southern Anthropological Society Annual Meeting, Athens, GA, March 9

González-Faraco, Juan Carlos,  Inmaculada Iglesias-Villarán, and Michael D. Murphy. Youth Culture and HIV/AIDS in Spain.

Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference, Tuscaloosa, AL, April 7

Becerra, Fatima. Herbal medicine use in the Peruvian highlands.

Carr, Melinda, and Ashley Daugherty. A burning question: Fireside relaxation.

Forrister, Anna. 50 years of all deliberate speed.

Hallquist, Sommer and Madeline Anscombe. Dealing with death. A study of children's changing grave themes and what they reveal about American society.

Lawhon, Taylor. An investigation of Caddo salt production at Drake's Salt Works.

ECU anthropology professor Dr. Blakely Brooks leads an ECU Global Understanding class.
ECU anthropology professor Dr. Blakely Brooks leads an ECU Global Understanding class.

Dr. Blakely Brooks, Teaching Assistant Professor at East Carolina University, who received his Ph.D. from UA in 2011, is in the news ( shattering stereotypes and promoting global understanding. Says Brooks, “The stereotypes our students have, they find out they just aren’t correct. And the foreign students find out their ideas of Americans often aren’t correct.”

Jonathan Belanich, who received his BA in 2014 in Anthropology and Biology and is currently enrolled in the MA program at Mississippi State, received Honorable Mention for his National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program application. This program is highly competitive, and our faculty wrote letters of recommendation for his proposal, so we consider this an honor that reflects on our preparation of him.

Dr. Chris Lynn was considered "Worth Quoting" in the January and February UA Dialog. From January ( “Stress can kill you, literally, and having means of reducing stress is going to be critical for the survival of species,” as quoted in Men’s Health. Lynn is the author of a study that suggests that sitting by a fire can lower people’s blood pressure and help them relax. From February ( “When we aren’t used to having down time, it results in anxiety … (a)nd we reach for the smartphone. It’s our omnipresent relief from that,” as quoted in the Aberdeen (South Dakota) News. The March UA Dialog ( recognized Dr. Lisa LeCount for being awarded a National Geographic Research and Exploration grant and Dr. Jason DeCaro ( for being selected for the President's Faculty Research Award. In April, the UA Dialog ( also recognized Achsah Dorsey and her adviser Jason DeCaro for her receipt of the University's Outstanding Research by a Master's Student award. In May, recent Anthropology BA Maryanne Mobley was recognized with 13 other UA graduates in UA Dialog ( for being honored with a Fulbright Award. Maryanne will be traveling to teach in South Korea.

The Biocultural Medical Anthropology faculty were asked to contribute a guest column for the Anthropology News online this year based on their "Biocultural Systematics" blog. Three columns have appeared so far by Bill Dressler, Jason DeCaro (, and Jo Weaver (; and Dr. Dressler's column "'Culture'...Again" ( enough page views to merit publication in the May print edition of Anthropology News.

Our colleague, Dr. John Blitz, is cited heavily in this recent American Archaeology article (, vol. 19, No. 1, 2015), "From Atlatls to Arrows." Congratulations John---Good stuff!

The Crimson White profiled Dr. Chris Lynn's efforts to develop the Evolutionary Studies program this semester ( Congrats to Dr. Lynn for his hard work on the EvoS program, and please contact him at to enroll or for more information. The Crimson White also published a piece ( on Dr. Lynn Fireside Relaxation Study, the Evolutionary Psychology article that came out at the end of 2014, and the efforts of students like Melinda Carr and Lauren Pratt and alumnus Meghan Steel in this ongoing study.

Finally, Dr. Lynn provided ideas for UA News' "UA Matters" column in February for an atypical Valentine's Day ( and in April for those considering online dating (

On February 12, Charles Darwin's birthday, the UA Evolutionary Studies Club hosted the 3rd annual Darwin Day Colloquium. The event was hosted by the Alabama Museum of Natural History and featured an afternoon of talks from UA students and faculty, in addition to a talk by alumnus Dr. Amanda Glaze and keynote by University of Louisiana at Monroe evolutionary psychologist Dr. Kilian Garvey. Special thanks to the hard work of Club members, particularly Taylor Burbach, who understands why Dr. Lynn recruits students who get as stressed about things as he does---they are the type who get things done, and the result was a smashing success.

This annual event is open to anyone interested in promoting cross-disciplinary evolutionary studies in Alabama and the Southeast region. This includes students of ALL ages, teachers, and those with a personal but abiding interest in improving science-based integrative education. Neither Charles Darwin nor Alfred Wallace (the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection) were academics!

In fact, next year, the University of Alabama and its Evolutionary Studies program will host the first annual SouthEastern Evolutionary Perspectives Society meeting February 12-14, 2016. Proposals for academic and creative presentations are being accepted through July 31, 2015. Email Amanda Glaze ( or Steve Platek ( to submit your proposal or for more information. Please consider joining us!

Chris Lynn, Jeff Lozier, Wendi Schnauffer, Lynn Funkhouser, Pat McGovern, Cassie Medeiros
Chris Lynn, Jeff Lozier, Wendi Schnauffer, Lynn Funkhouser, Pat McGovern, Cassie Medeiros dining before ALLELE talk.

The Department of Anthropology is one of the regular sponsors of the Alabama Lectures on Life's Evolution, organized by the University's Evolution Working Group (EVOWOG). This past academic year, EVOWOG hosted lectures by paleontologist Anthony Martin, journalist Chris Mooney, archaeologist Patrick McGovern, and biologists Michael Antolin and Sean Carroll. Although they were all special events, the Anthropology Department's contribution this year was Patrick McGovern. "Dr. Pat" has been called "the Indiana Jones of beer archaeology" for his work in deciphering the codes of ancient beverages to understand humanity's long history with intoxication and domestication. Several years ago, Dr. Pat teamed up with Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, which won a contest among several craft breweries, to recreate the ancient ales for which McGovern has identified the recipes. Dr. McGovern gave a talk for the ALLELE series on January 29 and, while here, was kind enough to meet with our students and attend an Ancient Ales tasting, organized by the Evolutionary Studies Club and at one of our local craft breweries, Druid City.

In addition to Dr. Pat and the Master's Colloquia presentations discussed in a previous article, the Anthro Club also brought guest lectures our way by hosting four FABBLs (Friday Anthropology Brown Bag Lunch lectures) during the spring.

February 20, doctoral student Sarah Morrow presented "PowerPATHS in West Central Alabama: Updates on Program, Process, and Pedagogy."

March 6, doctoral candidate Mitch Childress presented "Cox Mound Gorgets: Distributions, Chronology, and Style."

March 27, doctoral candidate Rachel Briggs presented "An Introduction to Residue Analysis and the Mississippian Standard Jar."

April 10, doctoral candidate Jessica Kowalski presented "Results from the Alabama Anthropology Club Surface Collection at the Arcola Mounds."


Luke Donohue and Kelsey Herndon with advisors John Blitz and Keith Jacobi.
Luke Donohue and Kelsey Herndon with advisors John Blitz and Keith Jacobi.

This past spring, five students came closer to completing their journeys to master's degrees by presenting the results of their thesis research at our March and April colloquiums.

On March 6, archaeology student Luke Donohue presented "Group Mobility and Lithic Resource Use in the Archaic to Woodland Transition at the Morrow Site." Bioarchaeology student Kelsey Herndon gave her talk on "The Embodiment of Status in the Mississippian Component of the Perry Site." Both students graduated in May. Luke and Kelsey are currently working for Environmental Corporation of American as Project Archaeologists, based in Alpharetta, GA. They are responsible for visiting sites all over the Southeast and the rest of the U.S. and performing archaeological and environmental surveys.

Lessye DeMoss and advisor Bill Dressler.
Lessye DeMoss and advisor Bill Dressler.
Johnna Dominguez and advisor Chris Lynn.
Johnna Dominguez and advisor Chris Lynn.
Kareen Hawsey and advisor Ian Brown.
Kareen Hawsey and advisor Ian Brown.

At our April 24 colloquium, Kareen Hawsey, another archaeology student, presented "Vessel Morphology and Function in the West Jefferson Phase of the Black Warrior River Valley, Alabama." Lessye DeMoss and Johnna Dominguez are biocultural medical students. Lessye presented "A Cultural Model of Life Goals for Young Men in the Roanoke Valley," while Johnna gave her talk called "'Nice Ink, Man': A Biocultural, Mixed Methods Approach to Tattooing as Costly Honest Signaling Among Southern Women."

Kareen and Lessye plan on sticking around for a while and have been admitted to our Ph.D. program. Kareen will be working with Dr. Brown to study the terminal Woodland in central Alabama. Lessye will continue her studies in the Biocultural Medical track with Dr. Dressler, studying cultural models of life goals in Alabama, how life goals are to be achieved, and affects on health when unable to manifest evidence of achieving widely shared goals (for example, not being able to buy a home or have nice clothes). Johnna is the Administrative Assistant at Seeds of Hope, the food justice ministry at the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in California where she is working to turn unused church yards into community gardens and improve community access to fresh vegetables. She aspires to continue to integrate her training in medical anthropology with the outreach ministry of the Episcopal Church.

Check out the display cases at the ground floor entryway of ten Hoor and adjacent to ten Hoor's room 30. There are three brand new exhibits on the topics of “Anthropology in the News,” “Anthropology in the Movies,” and “Jobs in Anthropology.” There is a lot of important information in these exhibits, which I am sure will be of interest to many---especially to students interested in jobs available to Anthropology majors and minors. Thanks to graduate students Brass Bralley, Angelica Callery, Camille Morgan, Clay Nelson, Cynthia Snead, and Ashley Stewart for putting together these terrific displays.

And speaking of exhibits, does anyone recognize the curator in the lower right?

Harvard's Hall of the North American Indian exhibit at the Peabody Museum celebrated its 25th anniversary this month. Still up and running.
Harvard's Hall of the North American Indian exhibit at the Peabody Museum celebrated its 25th anniversary this month. Still up and running.

The Department of Anthropology continued to publish consistently in the spring semester, with one book and several peer-reviewed articles becoming available.dressler book coverDavis, J.R., C.P. Walker, and J.H. Blitz. Remote sensing as community settlement analysis at Moundville. American Antiquity 80(1):161-169. DOI:

Dressler, W.W. The five things you need to know about statistics: Quantification in ethnographic research. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Dressler, W.W., M.C. Balieiro, and J.E. dos Santos. Finding culture in the second factor: Stability and change in cultural consensus and residual agreement. Field Methods 27: 22-38.

Eubanks, Paul N. A reconstruction of the Caddo salt making process at Drake's Salt Works. Caddo Archaeology 25:145-166.

Hadley, C. and DeCaro, J. A. Does moderate iron deficiency protect against childhood illness? A test of the optimal iron hypothesis in Tanzania. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. [Epub Apr 25 ahead of print] doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22756

Meek, D. Towards a political ecology of education: The educational politics of scale in southern Pará, Brazil. Environmental Education Research 21(3):447-459. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2014.993932

Meek, D. The cultural politics of the agroecological transition. Agriculture and Human Values. [ePub ahead of print 01 April 2015] DOI 10.1007/s10460-015-9605-z

Meek, D. Counter-summitry: La Via Campesina, the People's Summit, and Rio+20. Global Environmental Politics 15(2):11-18. doi:10.1162/GLEP_a_00295

Murphy, M.D., and J.C.González Faraco. El Rocío de Gerald Brenan, una autoetnografía epistolary (Gerald Brenan’s Rocío, an epistolary autoethnography). Gazeta de Antropología 31(1), artículo 07.

Weaver, L.J., C.M. Worthman, J.A. DeCaro, and S.V. Madhu. The signs of stress: Embodiments of biosocial stress among type 2 diabetic women in New Delhi, India. Social Science and Medicine. 131:122-130. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.002


Juliann Friel and Taylor Burch teaching the Anthropology of Madagascar at Arcadia Elementary.
Juliann Friel and Taylor Burch teaching the Anthropology of Madagascar at Arcadia Elementary.

The Department of Anthropology expanded its community outreach activities this past spring. The Department began participating in the Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary (TMSE)-UA Partnership in 2010 by offering a 12-week course in "Anthropology" in the fall. This past year, we offered "Anthropology of Costa Rica" in the fall and "Anthropology of Madagascar" in the spring. Anthropology of Costa Rica was led by doctoral student Greg Batchelder and capitalized on his research experience there and complemented the Magnet School's ethos as an International Baccalaureate Program. Anthropology of Madagascar was led by doctoral candidate Lynn Funkhouser and was chosen because of the  Evolutionary Studies program's sister relationship with an EvoS program in Madagascar.

In addition to teaching Anthropology of Madagascar at TMSE, Arcadia Elementary started a similar partnership program, and we offered the course there as well. In all cases, courses are led by graduate students and taught by upper-level Anthropology undergraduates who have excelled in the program. Instructors draw from a workbook of lessons we have developed over the past several years but are also responsible for developing one lesson and activity from scratch. Thanks to Taylor Burbach, Meghan Steel, Andrea Roulaine, Erica Schumann, and Juliann Friel for teaching our elementary students this year. Imagine what our discipline will be like when undergraduates arrive who have been exposed to the anthropological perspective since 3rd grade!

LisaMarie Malischke leading a garbology activity with kids at Woodland Forrest Elementary School (Photo: Nirmala Erevelles)
LisaMarie Malischke leading a garbology activity with kids at Woodland Forrest Elementary School (Photo: Nirmala Erevelles)

For the fall 2015, we have established a formal service-learning course called "Anthropology is Elementary" that will be taught by Lynn Funkhouser and can be taken for 3 credits by undergraduates who have completed the introductory courses in all four subdisciplines. Students will be placed at TMSE, Arcadia, or---a new location---Tuscaloosa Magnet School Middle. Spots are still open, so contact Lynn for more information at

But that's not all! We have participated annually in Woodland Forrest Elementary School's DiscoverFest as part of their Earth Day celebration. This year, several of our graduate students spent the day teaching elementary students about archaeology via "garbology," or using simple household trash as a means of understanding the cultures of the people who left it behind. Thanks to Lynn Funkhouser, Sarah Morrow, and LisaMarie Malischke for their efforts on behalf of our community children!

On January 29 the Anthropology Department and Evolution Working Group hosted biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern for an ALLELE (Alabama Lectures on Life's Evolution) talk from his book, Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcohol. The event included a meeting with the ANT 150 "Evolution for Everyone" students, dinner with Anthropology students, EVOWOG members, and Wendi Schauffer from UA Press, the ALLELE talk, and an Ancient Ales tasting after the talk at Druid City Brewing.

Special thanks to the Evolutionary Studies Club for organizing the tasting and Druid City for hosting and to our students who helped with the logistics. Dr. Pat's work is endlessly fascinating and will be included in a new spring 2016 course on the "Anthropology of Drugs." Master's student Cassie Medeiros, whose research focus is the archaeology of alcohol, particularly evidence of moonshine stills in Alabama, was particularly thrilled to be a part of the event.

Photos by C. Lynn and I. Brown

Numerous students and faculty were recognized for achievements and commitment this spring. Several undergraduates mentored by Anthropology faculty were recognized at the annual Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference as follows: Mark Ortiz, Honorable Mention for Oral Presentations in the Fine Arts and Humanities division (David Meek, faculty mentor); Taylor Lawhon, 4th Place for Oral Presentations in the Social Sciences division (Ian Brown, faculty mentor); Rachel Madey, 1st Place for in Emerging Scholars Fine Arts and Humanities Division and International Focus (Kathy Oths, faculty mentor), and Sommer Hallquist and Madeline Anscombe, 2nd Place in Emerging Scholars Fine Arts and Humanities division (Ian Brown, faculty mentor).

Lynn Funkhouser accepts her award from Ian Brown.
Lynn Funkhouser accepts her award from Ian Brown.
Jessica Kowalski accepts a DeJarnette Scholarship.
Jessica Kowalski accepts a DeJarnette Scholarship.
Greg Batchelder accepts the 2015 Maxwell Scholarship from Dr. Brown.
Greg Batchelder accepts the 2015 Maxwell Scholarship from Dr. Brown.

This year's recipients of David and Elizabeth DeJarnette Endowed Scholarships in Anthropology are doctoral candidates Lynn Funkhouser and Jessica Kowalski. Doctoral student Greg Batchelder received the Allen R. Maxwell Endowed Anthropology Scholarship. The competitions were extremely tough, as always, so these honors are indeed great. For this year, each awardees will be receiving scholarships of $8,000 each to be used toward their research.

Achsah Dorsey, who received her M.A. in Anthropology in 2014, received the University of Alabama Outstanding Research by a Master's Student Award for her thesis "Food Insecurity, Maternal Mental Health, and Child Well-Being in NW Tanzania." This follows receipt of the same award in the Arts & Sciences in the fall 2014.

Katelyn Moss receives undergraduate honor from Dean Olin.
Katelyn Moss receives undergraduate honor from Dean Olin.
Taylor Lawhon, Jessi Mays, and Melinda Carr receive undergraduate honors from Cameron Lacquement.
Taylor Lawhon, Jessi Mays, and Melinda Carr receive undergraduate honors from Cameron Lacquement.

This year's Honors Day allowed three of our outstanding undergraduates to be recognized. Katelyn Moss received a Dean's Award of Merit, while Taylor Lawhon, Jessi Mays, and Melinda Carr were acknowledged as recipients of the "Smitty" and Hughes Awards. Taylor received the C. Earl Smith Award, which is given to the graduating senior with the highest GPA in Anthropology. Jessi and Melinda were co-recipients of the Lynn Hughes Award, which is given to students in Anthropology or Economics who capture the imagination of the faculty through potential, intransigence, inventiveness, perseverance, or a combination of qualities.

The following students received funding from the Graduate School for their proposals to the Graduate Student Research and Travel Fund: Mirjam HollemanLynn FunkhouserLessye DeMossDaniel LaDuRachel BriggsLisaMarie Malischke, and Paul Eubanks.

The Research Advisory Committee (RAC) selected Jason DeCaro as the 2015 recipient of the President’s Faculty Research Award for Arts & Sciences---Social Sciences. These awards, organized by the RAC and sponsored by our President and by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, recognize select University of Alabama faculty members whose research or scholarship represents excellence in their field.

Chris Lynn receiving AS Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award from Dean Olin.
Chris Lynn receiving AS Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award from Dean Olin.
Jason DeCaro with co-recipients of an Award for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort, John Lochman, Ansley Gilpin, and Qshequilla Mitchell.
Jason DeCaro with co-recipients of an Award for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort, John Lochman, Ansley Gilpin, and Qshequilla Mitchell.

Dr. DeCaro and his collaborators Ansley Gilpin, Caroline Boxmeyer, and John Lochman were also recipients of the 2015 Center for Community-Based Partnerships Awards for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort. In addition, David Meek and Sarah Morrow were recognized at the same event with a Community Engagement Fellowship Award.

Dr. Lisa LeCount was awarded a National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration grant for $21,412 and a College Academy for Research, Scholarship and Creativity Activity grant ($5,000). These grants were to support another season of the Actuncan Project---"Archaeological Research at Actuncan's E-Group: Testing the Political Significance of Preclassic Lowland Maya Public Architecture." E-groups are the earliest known public architecture on ancient Maya sites.  Multiple models have been proposed to explain their significance, the most recent of which suggests that Middle Preclassic (1000 to 400 B.C.) E-groups served as high-points on the geopolitical landscape to claim territory visible from them.  The proposed research seeks to test this model by excavating Actuncan’s E-group to discover the heights of early architectural stages and performing ArcGIS geospatial analyses (least-cost path and radial line-of-sight) to determine the territorial boundaries visible or walkable from contemporaneous E-groups within the upper Belize River valley.

Finally, Chris Lynn received the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award at the Undergraduate Honor's Day celebration. This highly coveted award is issued each year by the Leadership Board of the College of Arts and Sciences and recognizes a single faculty member for his or her superior teaching ability and absolute dedication to students. This is a most deserving award for Dr. Lynn and a great honor for our Department.

2014-09-12 12.18.03
Doctoral student Erik Porth

The Department's Friday Afternoon Brown Bag Lunch (FABBL) talks commenced September 12 with PhD student Erik Porth's presentation, "Some Preliminary Results from the 2012 Fall Field School Mound P Excavations." Erik presented an overview of excavations at Mound P from the Moundville III phase, 1400-1520 AD. Some of Erik's preliminary results include identification of several different ceramics found at the west flank trench and an analysis of the bucket auger assemblages.

Eileen Anderson-Fye rolling tide with l-r) Chris Fye, Kathy Oths,  Bill Dressler after her visit to the department
Eileen Anderson-Fye with (l-r) Chris Fye, Kathy Oths, & Bill Dressler.

Thanks to the Anthropology club and Dr. Oths, we were able to welcome Dr. Eileen Anderson-Fye on September 18 to discuss some of her research with the faculty and students. Dr. Anderson-Fye gave an informal talk titled “Education, Well-being and Rapid Socio-cultural Change: A Longitudinal Mixed-Methods Investigation of Girls’ Secondary Education in Belize” to students in the department, which gave them the opportunity to discuss issues around ethnographic research. Later in the day, Dr. Anderson-Fye gave a talk titled, “How Fat is Too Fat?: Obesity Stigma, Upward Mobility, and Symbolic Body Capital in Four Countries.” She discussed how, through cross-cultural research in Jamaica, Belize, Nepal, and Korea, she has found that obesity stigma can alter a person’s view on body image and cause harm.

2014-09-26 12.16.14
Doctoral student Greg Batchelder

Our Fall FABBL series continued September 26 with PhD student Greg Batchelder's presentation "Estibrawpa: Ecotourism in the Bribri Village of Yorkin. Celebrating Tradition and Improving Health." Greg's presentation focused on his summer 2014 research in Costa Rica, where he learned about Estibrawpa, an ecotourism program created by the women of Yorkin, a village of about 200-250 people. Greg traveled to Yorkin by canoe and stayed for a week in the home of the Morales family. Greg was able to observe many of the benefits from the creation of Estibrawpa, including the resurgence in the community of an interest in traditions from the younger generations. He plans to return next summer and to continue to collaborate with the community in Yorkin and study their ecotourism project.

image (1)
University of Memphis anthropologist Dr. David Dye

Our third FABBL on October 10 was by PhD student Jessica Kowalski, who presented "On the Mississippi Mound Trail: A Report on Two Field Seasons of Excavations." Jessica's research focuses on Arcola, which has 3 of 6 original mounds still standing. The first season they cored and augured Mound A and excavated a test unit in which they found mound erosion, Late George phase and Protohistoric ceramics, and Winterville phase ceramics. During the second season they excavated Mound C and found a burn floor surface and radiocarbon dated it to between 1435 and 1490 AD.

On November 7, PhD candidate Paul Eubanks presented "Saline on the Bayou: An Exploration of Caddo Salt Making at Drake's Salt Works." Paul has found that salt production in Northwestern Louisiana during the protohistoric and early historic periods developed largely in response to increased salt demand following European contact. Several salt licks were available to the Caddo natives of the area, but the proximity to Europeans, as well as availability of liquid brine, resistance to flooding, and fuel availability influence the preference for production at Drake's Salt Works.

On November 21, Dr. David Dye from the Department of Anthropology at Memphis University visited and gave a talk on "Lighting Boy War Bundles in the Lower Mississippi Valley." Dr. Dye is a renowned authority on the subject of Mississippian warfare. He has authored numerous books and articles on the subject including War Paths, Peace Paths: An Archaeology of Cooperation and Conflict in Native North America and The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians (coedited with Richard J. Chacon). In his various studies he uses the Eastern Woodlands as an arena to explore the relationship of conflict and cooperation throughout prehistory. By virtue of an approach to archaeology that is multidisciplinary, he draws on cultural anthropology, folklore, iconography, and ethnohistory to offer new insights into the political and religious nature of warfare. His research orientation is the material culture and political history of the Midsouth, focusing on Mississippian elites and he is also interested in documenting symbolic weaponry and ceramic iconography from the Midsouth through photography. Through these efforts, he has to recognized the diffusion and symbolic importance of "Lightning Boy," one of the Twins of Mississippian cosmology whose ritual appearance was critical for organization of warfare.



Missy SartainMissy Sartain joined the department on March 22, 2010 as an Office Associate II (we prefer Demi-Goddess) and is the beautiful face at the front desk in the Anthropology Department Office. Before joining us, Missy spent 6 years as a legal secretary, the last 2 years in domestic law. As the proud mother of three boys, she found all the domestic law conflicts around children unpleasant. She finds life in the Anthropology Department much calmer. Since we all regularly stop to chat with Missy, you might think you know a lot about her, but we recently asked her to share 10 things you may not know:

  1. "I was born in Anchorage, Alaska.
  2. I've lived in Germany.
  3. I'm about to celebrate my 50th birthday.
  4. I want to visit San Diego before I die.
  5. I am a huge NASCAR (Go, Dale, Jr.!) and Alabama softball and football fan (well, you probably all know that).
  6. I like to fish and sit out in the sun.
  7. I once won a Valentine's Day poetry contest on the radio, which won me a prime rib dinner for me and my fella.
  8. At one point, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.
  9. I like to grill out and eat BBQ and Mexican.
  10. I am excited to be going to see Def Leopard's reunion show (I was a headbanger in the 80s)."

Since the mid-1980s, Dr. William Dressler and colleagues have been examining the influence of culture on individual well-being through pioneering the cultural consonance approach. Cultural consonance measures how successful people are in achieving the broad goals that are collectively valued in their society, especially goals across the life-span (for example, creating a satisfying family life). Dr. Dressler recently completed research funded by the National Science Foundation aimed to replicate and extend research on gene-environment interactions and subjective well-being among persons of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in an urban center in Brazil.

Research in the past decade has shown that individuals with different genetic profiles are variably influenced by stressful environmental events and
circumstances in terms of their sense of subjective well-being, including feelings of depression. While intriguing results have been observed, the range of environmental events and circumstances that have been investigated has been relatively narrow. A major goal of Dr. Dressler's recent research was to understand how different kinds of environmental experience may—or may not—be modified by genes.

Dressler NSF Public Final Report Fig 1The project focused on two genetic polymorphisms thought to influence well-being. One, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, affects the health and development of nerve cells. The other, a receptor for the neurotransmitter serotonin, is related to the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain. In addition to cultural consonance, three indicators of experience in the social environment were studied. Childhood adversity refers to stressful events in childhood, such as the death or serious illness of a parent or a history of maltreatment. Stressful life events refer to current events such as divorce, death of a spouse or child, and unemployment. Frustration tolerance is a psychological disposition in which small and large setbacks can be accepted.

Data were collected in a survey of over 400 adults from diverse socioeconomic groups. Genotypes were determined from samples of cells from the cheek. Other data were collected in face-to-face interviews. Subjective well-being was measured as the number of symptoms of depression, isolation, and hopelessness the respondent had experienced in the two weeks prior to the interview.Dressler NSF Public Final Report Fig. 2

Major results were as follows: Childhood adversity was moderated by genotype, especially by the serotonin receptor gene. Persons with a specific variant for the gene were at much higher risk of reporting high levels of depressive symptoms if they had experienced childhood adversity (Fig. 1). The moderation of genotype-by-childhood adversity in relation to depressive symptoms was especially strong among persons from a low socioeconomic background (Fig. 2). Persons with this serotonin receptor variant and who experienced childhood adversity also had lower frustration tolerance. Cultural consonance proved to be the strongest influence on subjective well-being---risk of high levels of depressive symptoms was strongest for people with low cultural consonance (Fig. 3).

Dressler NSF Public Final Report Fig. 3The results of this research present a more nuanced view of the influence of genes, the environment, and the interaction of genes and environment on subjective well-being. Persons who experience high adversity in childhood are more likely to experience lower well-being as adults, especially if they have a particular genetic background. On the other hand, if those individuals are able to achieve the kinds of goals in life that are widely valued in their society, they are less likely to experience depression, isolation, and hopelessness as adults. Additionally, their genetic background does not alter the experience of cultural consonance.

Subjective well-being has been shown to have a powerful influence on physical health and social and economic productivity over the life-span. This well-being matters to individuals and to society. The influences on well-being are complex, ranging from the molecular biology of individual genetic differences to the collective goals and values called culture that help to hold a society together. Understanding and enhancing well-being for individuals and society depends on the analysis of these diverse influences, and this research contributes to that end.

We are grateful to the many former students, colleagues, and other donors who made possible the establishment of our newest scholarship opportunity for our students, the "Jim Knight." According to the resolution, they "contributed $13,687.36 to The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama to honor Dr. Knight and to promote the education of students in the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama." This was matched by $12,500 in Capstone Foundation funds as directed by the College of Arts and Sciences to be used for the same purpose. To ensure the continuity of this and other efforts to fund our students and programs, we humbly welcome tax-free donations toward the Knight Endowed Scholarship or any of the following initiatives:

The Allen R. Maxwell Endowed Anthropology Scholarship is awarded to support graduate student research in the areas of ethnography or linguistic anthropology. Established through a bequest from Dr. Maxwell's estate, it is our first award specifically dedicated to ethnographic or linguistic field research.

The Anthropology Club Fund supports the activities of the Anthropology Club, which includes camping trips, workshops, and guest speakers each semester. The opportunity to participate in Club activities is critical in fostering the ethic of collegiality and professionalism so import to our Department.

The Anthropology Field School Gift Fund goes to the support of our undergraduate field schools in archaeology. Our field schools receive no budget from the University and depend heavily on these gifts for supplies and operating expenses. Our annual field schools for undergraduates date back to 1956, and, traditionally, they are among the most memorable experiences of our alumni.

The Anthropology Lectureship Fund goes to support distinguished guest speakers from outside the University. We try to have at least four guest speakers per year. These speakers greatly enrich our undergraduate and graduate programs by exposing our students to prominent ideas by the leading lights in our discipline.

The C. Earle Smith Award is given for academic excellence at the undergraduate level in anthropology. The annual award goes to the graduate senior in anthropology having the highest overall grade point average. Names of former "Smitty" Award winners are prominently displayed on a plaque in the Department.

The David and Elizabeth DeJarnette Endowed Scholarship in Anthropology is awarded to support graduate student research on Moundville or Mesoamerica-related topics. Each spring, the award is made during the popular DeJarnette BBQ, held at Moundville Archaeoligical Park on the Saturday of Honors Week. Since it was founded in 1993 by Sarah and James Caldwell, the endowment has steadily grown. In recent years, our DeJarnette Scholars have received awards of as much as $6,000.

The Evolution Education Fund (EEF) supports evolution education activities organized by and in conjunction with the University of Alabama. EEF supports evolution education broadly construed and across academic and professional disciplines. Funded activities include the Alabama Lectures on Life’s Evolution (ALLELE,, organized and hosted by the Evolution Working Group; Darwin Day activities hosted by the Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) minor and Club, which are housed in the Department of Anthropology (; Speaking Evolution TV series and teacher resource site (; and other evolution education-related programs and opportunities.

The Hughes Prize recognizes students who have captured the imagination of the faculty by potential, intransigence, inventiveness, perserverance, insight, or a combination of those traits.

The Panamerican Consultants, Inc. Award (formerly The Bob Work Award) is a graduate student paper competition with a monetary prize. Archaeology graduate students submit papers for review by a faculty, and the winner receives recognition at our annual Holiday party.

The Richard A. Krause Award is given for academic excellence at the graduate level in anthropology. The recipient of this annual award is chosen by the Graduate Studies Committee of the Department based on classroom performance and the promise of the student's proposed thesis or dissertation research project.

The Vernon James Knight Endowed Scholarship in Anthropology will be awarded to students enrolled in the Anthropology graduate program who are conducting research on the anthropology of art and design, with a preference for iconography projects. Secondary consideration shall be given to undergraduate majors with the same research interests.

Checks directed to any of these initiatives should be made out to the UA College of Arts and Sciences and mailed to the Department at the address below. If you would like to discuss a contribution, please contact Department Chair Ian Brown ( or College of Arts & Sciences Director of Development Kathy Yarbrough (

Dr. Steve Kosiba & his archaeology crew in the Peruvian Andes
Dr. Steve Kosiba & his archaeology crew in the Peruvian Andes
Huanacauri ruins & Cuzco (S. Kosiba)
Huanacauri ruins & Cuzco (S. Kosiba)

Archaeologist Dr. Steve Kosiba was especially busy throughout the spring and summer 2014. Dr. Kosiba started a new archaeological project at Huanacauri, one of the earliest and most important religious complexes of the Inca Empire. The research received funding from the National Geographic Society, the Brennan Foundation, and the University of Alabama. The goal of the research was to understand the religious practices that first supported Inca regional authority in Cuzco, their sacred capital city. Perched on a 4,120m summit overlooking Cuzco, Huanacauri was essential to Inca ceremonies and beliefs. According to legend, one of the first Incas became a god at Huanacauri. Here, in ceremonies held during the height of Inca rule, young boys became elites and Inca emperors affirmed their rule (2, 12, 22). Preliminary research, however, indicates that this site was established long before Inca ascendancy (11). In light of these findings, Kosiba directed intensive archaeological excavations to test whether the Incas adopted, transformed, or invented traditional ritual practices as they converted this mountaintop into an emblem of their authority.

Cold morning (S. Kosiba)
Cold morning (S. Kosiba)

The excavations offered an unprecedented glimpse of the ritual practices through which the Incas established their divine authority in Cuzco. Kosiba and the excavation team---including Katherine Lazzara, a UA Anthropology graduate student---assiduously worked on the mountaintop, enduring frigid conditions, hail, blistering sun, and high winds to recover and document the remains of this important Inca shrine. In particular, they uncovered intact buildings that were used for corn beer (chicha) production, suggesting that alcohol and intoxication were essential to the most solemn and sacred Inca rituals. In essence, they may have discovered the highest and holiest brewery in the indigenous Americas! What is more, the excavations demonstrated that Huanacauri was most likely built long after the Incas consolidated their state in Cuzco, overturning theories which hold that the Incas grounded their religion of mountaintop shrine worship in earlier cultural traditions. Finally, the excavations revealed that the Incas destroyed and interred the shrines of Huanacauri as they relinquished their power in the face of Spanish conquest in 1532 AD. The project is now conducting a comprehensive analysis of the materials, soils, and building materials from Huanacuari.

Hanacauri & Cuzco (S. Kosiba)
Huanacauri & Cuzco (S. Kosiba)

In addition to the fieldwork, Dr. Kosiba also presented his research to academic and public audiences on a “world tour” of lectures in Baton Rouge, LA (Louisiana State University); Providence, RI (Brown University); Stuttgart, Germany (Linden Museum); Austin, TX (Meetings of the Society for American Archaeology); Leipzig, Germany (Max Planck Institute); Lima, Peru (Proyecto Qhapaq Ñan and Ministerio de Cultura); and Pisac, Peru (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru). In these talks, Kosiba presented archaeological, ethnohistorical, and Geographic Information Systems data to offer insights into how indigenous American perceptions of history and nature. Many of the lectures focused on how the Incas came to know and understand their past when they walked ritual pathways on which they encountered and communicated with mythological beings and culture heroes embedded in the stones and shrines of Cuzco.

Article an adaptation of introduction to SEAC symposium in honor of Jim Knight by Amanda Regnier

After over 24 years of the service to the Department, Dr. Vernon James "Jim" Knight, Jr. became Professor Emeritus in May 2014. Jim Knight's history with UA is much more extensive, however, as his legacy stretches over the past 40+ years.

Working with Mr. DeJarnette (on far right) in 1975 at LaGrange bluff shelter
Figure 1. Working with Mr. DeJarnette (on far right) in 1975 at LaGrange bluff shelter

Dr. Knight’s first field experience in Alabama occurred working alongside the father of Alabama Archaeology, David DeJarnette, north of Mound R at Moundville in 1973 (Figure 1). After graduating from the University of Alabama in 1975, he went to work for the early incarnation of the Office of Archaeological Research at Moundville (OAR). In that same year, Dr. Knight published “Some Observations Concerning Plant Materials and Aboriginal Smoking in Eastern North America” in the Journal of Alabama Archaeology. We wonder how many archaeologists can say that an article they wrote just might have inspired numerous unofficial experimental studies among the archaeologists of the 1970s, and probably beyond? Or more seriously, how many archaeologists can say that their first published work in a state journal is still being cited?

Figure 2

In 1977, Dr. Knight completed his MA at the University of Toronto. His thesis was based on materials from survey work done in the Rother L. Harris reservoir (Figure 2) along the Tallapoosa River of east central Alabama in 1974, where he worked with John O’Hear. His thesis resulted in an initial culture historical sequence for this portion of the Alabama Piedmont. Dr. Knight continued to work in the Coosa and Tallapoosa drainages of eastern Alabama in the 1980s and authored a number of reports detailing surveys in east Alabama.

Figure 3
Figure 3

Dr. Knight’s long tradition of research into Mississippian ritual dates back at least as far as his work along the Lower Chattahoochee, particularly at Cemochechobee, where he worked alongside Frank and Gail Schnell for the Columbus Museum of Arts and Sciences. (Figure 3) Whispered graduate student legends state that he may have been thrown from the mound by an angry crewmember during that field project. Dr. Knight’s work in the Chattahoochee followed in the footsteps of Mr. DeJarnette, who worked in the Lower Chattahoochee in the mid-20th century. Anyone who has worked in that region has consulted his work on chronology at Cemochechobee and Singer-Moye, as well as his later Walter F. George survey and excavation reports to familiarize him/herself with the lower Chattahoochee culture historical sequence.  In the past several years, he has worked with Karen Smith, who received her MA with Dr. Knight in 1999, on Swift Creek paddle designs and Woodland period chronology in the Chattahoochee and Lower Appalachicola.

Figure 4
Figure 4

Dr. Knight returned to OAR in 1981 after completing his doctoral research at the University of Florida in just three years and rose to the level of Senior Research Archaeologist. Dr. Knight directed or contributed to several studies of Woodland ceremonialism in Florida and Alabama during this time, (Figure 4) including his dissertation advisor Jerry Milanich’s work on McKeithen Weeden Island culture in north Florida and the OAR excavations of the Copena mound at the Walling site in the Tennessee Valley of northern Alabama. Based on these and other excavations at Woodland sites, Dr. Knight created a model of Woodland platform mound symbolism focused on feasting and gift exchange with an emphasis on world renewal ceremonialism. These are intriguingly linked to historic Green Corn ceremonialism.