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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!"


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.

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."


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)."

Dr. Cameron Lacquement

In our latest issue of "10 Things You May Not Know About," we focus on Dr. Cameron Lacquement, our Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Dr. Lacquement is an archaeologist who specializes in Southeastern archaeology, ethnohistory, and prehistoric construction. His professional interests are prehistoric archaeology, Mississippian archaeology, experimental archaeology, architectural energetics, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, wood science technology, history of archaeology, marriage and kinship studies, and forensics.

Dr. Lacquement is also the editor of Architectural Variability in the Southeast, published in 2007.


Here are 10 things you may not know about Dr. Lacquement:

1. Was a state champion swimmer in high school.

2. Enjoys woodworking and carpentry.

3. Is the co-founder and pitcher of the Argonauts co-rec intramural softball team (est. 2006). Go 'Nauts!

4. Resume includes gas station attendant, lifeguard, fish and reptile sales, whitewater rafting guide, carpenter, tobacco primer, and 2-year aquatic watermelon wrestling champion (Oak Ridge, NC - July 4th 1996 and 1997).

University of Alabama Press, 2007

5. Once hitchhiked from NC to PA and back---but does not recommend it.

6. Thinks that Ben Affleck is a horrible choice for Batman.

7. Plays classical guitar.

8. Bowls on Wednesday nights in the "Druid City Lousy Bowlers League"

9. Is the second Dr. Lacquement in his family.

10. Knows all 11 herbs and spices in the Colonel's secret recipe.... but he'll never tell.

Dr. Ian Brown, Chair of Anthropology
Dr. Ian Brown, Chair of Anthropology

"10 Things You May Not Know About" is a new feature of our newsletter to highlight the personal sides of our faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Anthropology. This issue, we begin with our new chair, Dr. Ian Brown. Dr. Brown is an archaeologist who specializes in the Indians of the southeastern United States. His research interests are the history of archaeology, ethnohistory, prehistoric Indian culture history, settlement patterns, ceremonialism, ceramics, and trade and technology among Eastern Woodland populations, especially the role of salt. Dr. Brown is widely published, including two books just this past year, The Red Hills of Essex: Studying Salt in England and Above and Beyond the Pale: A Portrait of Life and Death in Ireland. We are extraordinarily grateful to have such a capable, affable, and, as you will see below, extraordinarily interesting colleague at our departmental helm. Yes, anthropologists are Renaissance men and women.

10 things you may not know about Dr. Brown:

  1. Margaret Mead spoke at his college graduation and repeatedly stuck her tongue out as she talked.
  2. He once lived in the same house as the famous composer and maestro Leonard Bernstein ("West Side Story"), while Bernstein was actually living there.
  3. He used to eat dinner with Benazir Bhutto, the assassinated Prime Minister of Pakistan, on a fairly regular basis. He called her Pinkie.
  4. He accompanied Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker in "All in the Family") to lunch, and O'Connor laughed at Dr. Brown's jokes.
  5. He used to date Marie Kohler, heir to the "toilet fortune."
  6. He turned 23 at Angola Prison Farm, Louisiana State Penitentiary
  7. Bill Monroe, the creator of bluegrass music, once slept over in his dorm room.
  8. His Chinese name is Ba Yin, which roughly translates as "Bama Salt Man."
  9. For 36 years, he has maintained a continuous daily journal...which is indexed.
  10. He was once spat upon by Christopher Lloyd, famous actor ("Back to the Future" series; "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Cheers," etc.).