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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!

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 (

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!

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.

The past year marked the beginning of data collection for Dr. Jason DeCaro’s multiyear Head Start research project. This interdisciplinary project focuses on child development during the transitions from prekindergarten through first grade. Dr. DeCaro joins Drs. Ansley Gilpin and John Lochman of the Psychology Department and Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, as well as community partners from the Community Service Programs of West Alabama.

Students Ashley Daugherty, Caitlin Baggett, and Linnea Moran conduct an assessment on hat day at Head Start.
Students Ashley Daugherty, Caitlin Baggett, and Linnea Moran conduct an assessment on hat day at Head Start.

Funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Power PATH is an intervention program designed to improve emotional, behavioral, social, and cognitive wellbeing. Included in Power PATH is PATHS, a supplemental preschool curriculum that offers children techniques for dealing with difficult emotions and processing emotions in appropriate ways in the classroom. The addition of parent intervention meetings, adapted from the Coping Power program, is a novel contribution of the UA project. Parents learn about the PATHS curriculum and can reinforce the lessons from PATHS at home, receive resources related to managing stress and improving their own wellbeing, and have an opportunity to network with other parents.

As one of only four grants funded by the ACF to study “dual-generation” approaches in Head Start that address the needs of the entire family, this is a fantastic opportunity to evaluate programs that could affect Head Start programs across the county. Children learning the curriculum are being compared to a control group of children not learning the curriculum to determine any differences between the two groups. Dr. DeCaro leads the portion of the project that evaluates physiological responses to stress in four-year-olds during their first exposure to the PATHS curriculum and again at the end of the study in first grade. Physiological assessments include ECG, skin conductance, saliva samples for the stress-related hormone cortisol, and basic anthropometric measurements. During the fall 2014 semester alone, the physiological teams were in contact with more than 100 four-year-olds.

This project has created many exciting opportunities for students. Graduate students Sarah Elizabeth Morrow and Edward Quinn of the Anthropology Department and Allie Nancarrow of the Psychology Department have led field research teams at nine different Head Start centers across West Alabama. This project has also afforded our Department the opportunity to expose an unprecedented number of undergraduates to real biocultural research. Forty-four undergraduate students were involved on the physiological side of the project in fall 2014 alone. Students majoring in a broad range of disciplines, including anthropology, biology, chemistry, premedical studies, environmental engineering, international relations, and computer science found roles within this study.

Students Steven Beall, Lauren Pratt, and Tiffini Taylor observe a child as he watches videos for his assessment.
Students Steven Beall, Lauren Pratt, and Tiffini Taylor observe a child as he watches videos for his assessment.

Student field teams work in groups of two or three, dividing up duties of interviewing, collecting ECG and skin conductance data, and keeping the study protocols on task and organized. Other students conduct lab work, analyzing ECG data, organizing and analyzing written data sheets, and checking video recordings to identify key events in the interview protocol. The third major aspect of student involvement is with lab management. Students work closely with graduate students and Lab Manager, Shanta Hardrick Burrell, to learn about informed consent management, file keeping, and how to maintain records in order to protect respondents.

One of the most exciting aspects for many students has been to simply interact with the children. From drawing pictures together to discussing their favorite birthday presents, assessments are special times when each child feels listened to and attended to by the field team. As a complex and important research project, Power PATH will continue to expand over the next few years. We look forward to continuing to work with a diverse and broad range of students (and community volunteers) in order to make this program a success. If you are interested in joining this project in some capacity, please contact Sarah Elizabeth Morrow, lead physiological graduate student at Students are eligible for either ANT or PY credits; volunteers are also always welcome!