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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 (,

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 (

Peruvian bonesetter Don Felipe Llaro with Dr. Kathy Oths
Peruvian bonesetter Don Felipe Llaro with Dr. Kathy Oths

On October 10, the University of West Alabama at Livingston hosted an "Afternoon of Anthropology" with Dr. Kathy Oths, who gave two talks on her work for our department. She gave a talk about her study of Tuscaloosa farmers markets entitled “Farmers Markets and Foodies: Conflict, Change, and Resolution” and another regarding her project in Peru called "Medical Tradition in the Peruvian Highlands: What Time and Climate Change Have Wrought."

Chris Lynn on Fox 6 News.
Chris Lynn on Fox 6 News.

Just in time for the holidays, Dr. Chris Lynn published initial results of his study of fireside relaxation in the open access journal Evolutionary Psychology, which has received attention from Huffington Post, Discover Magazine, Men's Health, Fox 4/WBRC in Birmingham, Mail Online, Paleo (in Spanish), and UA A&S Desktop News. In the experimental study, Lynn found that even watching a fire simulation (e.g., a Yule log DVD) for as little as 15 minutes can reduce blood pressure when it simulates some of the naturalistic conditions of a real fire, such as the crackling sounds. He speculates that this capacity may have played an important role in human cognitive evolution, given the long history of humans and controlled fire.

Dr. David Meek and students in his "Anthropology of Food" course enjoy the pleasant weather outside recently.Several students have been involved in Dr. Lynn's fireside relaxation study over the past few years, and last year undergraduate Meghan Steel gave a presentation about it at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting that was blogged about by Sydney Yeager for the Anthropology of Consciousness. Meghan introduced a prosociality measure to the third iteration of the project, and Lynn found that participants who scored higher on the prosociality scale achieved greater relaxation benefits.

The Fall 2014 issue of the College of Arts and Sciences Collegian (Vol. 23, No. 1) features three articles on research in our department. Dr. Marysia Galbraith is recognized for the receipt of a third Fulbright Grant to extend her study of Polish identity. Along with collaborators in the Department of Psychology, Dr. Jason DeCaro is recognized as a recipient of a $2.2 million grant to assess the efficacy of local Head Start programs. The Collegian also details doctoral student Paul Eubanks' NSF-supported study of Caddo Indian salt production in what is today Northwest Louisiana.

Eubanks was also a finalist for the "Three-Minute Thesis" competition hosted by the UA Graduate School, as highlighted in the UA News.

Galbraith book coverAs covered in The Crimson White and A&S Desktop News, Dr. Marysia Galbraith has received a third Fulbright award to continue her longitudinal study of identity in Poland. Dr. Galbraith, who has worked in Poland for over 20 years, was awarded the Fulbright to investigate whether Jews in Poland self-identify as Jewish and Polish. This study expands on ideas outlined in her recent book, Being and Becoming European in Poland: European Integration and Self-Identity, which examines Polish self-identity as part of the European Union.

As highlighted in the Tuscaloosa News and UA News, PhD student Clay Nelson has received a graduate research assistantship from the Office of Archaeological Research (OAR) and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to look at Creek homeland sites. The goal of the project is to finds links between the archaeological record of the Tennessee Valley and sites in Alabama and Georgia. Nelson will be advised by Dr. Ian Brown and Eugene Futato, deputy director of OAR. Nelson's goal is to better understand what was happening in the Southeastern U.S. after European contact.