Lectures & Workshops

ALLELE speaker Becky Burch interviewed on Capstone Radio.
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 (http://evostudies.org/2015/10/how-exactly-is-evolution-a-crosscutting-concept-enter-bill-nye-the-science-guy/). 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).

Alumni News and Anthropologists IN the News

ECU anthropology professor Dr. Blakely Brooks leads an ECU Global Understanding class.
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 (http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/news/globalclassroom.cfm)for 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 (http://dialog.ua.edu/2015/01/dialog-extra-for-jan-5-2015/): “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 (http://dialog.ua.edu/2015/02/dialog-extra-for-feb-5-2015/): “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 (http://dialog.ua.edu/2015/03/accolades-for-march-2-2015/) recognized Dr. Lisa LeCount for being awarded a National Geographic Research and Exploration grant and Dr. Jason DeCaro (http://dialog.ua.edu/2015/03/uas-first-faculty-research-day-set-for-april-8/) for being selected for the President’s Faculty Research Award. In April, the UA Dialog (http://dialog.ua.edu/2015/04/accolades-for-april-13-2015/) 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 (http://dialog.ua.edu/2015/05/14-ua-graduates-receive-fulbright-awards-for-2015-16/) 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 (http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2015/03/02/whats-biological-about-biocultural-research-part-1/), and Jo Weaver (http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2015/04/14/challenges-of-mixed-method-research/); and Dr. Dressler’s column “‘Culture’…Again” (http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2015/01/30/culture-again/)received 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 (http://www.archaeologicalconservancy.org/atlatls-arrows/, 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 (http://www.cw.ua.edu/article/2015/02/lynn-grows-evolutionary-studies-at-alabama). Congrats to Dr. Lynn for his hard work on the EvoS program, and please contact him at cdlynn@ua.edu to enroll or for more information. The Crimson White also published a piece (http://www.cw.ua.edu/article/2015/01/campfires-aid-blood-pressure-study-says) 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 (http://uanews.ua.edu/2015/02/ua-matters-happy-atypical-valentines-day/) and in April for those considering online dating (http://uanews.ua.edu/2015/04/ua-matters-thinking-of-online-dating-a-few-items-to-consider/).

Physiological Research at Head Start Creates Opportunities for UA Students

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

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 semorrow@crimson.ua.edu. Students are eligible for either ANT or PY credits; volunteers are also always welcome!

Spring 2014 Conferences and Presentations by UA Anthropologists

Undergraduates Sophia Fazal and Lauren Pratt with Dr. Chris Lynn at NEEPS 2014 conference in New Paltz, NY. Photo by C. Lynn.

Blitz, John
Skeuomorphs and the Construction of Object Value in the Ancient Eastern Woodlands. Paper presented at the 79th Annual Meeting, Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX, April 23-27.

Drs. Juan Carlos González Faraco & Michael Murphy conducting fieldwork in Spain, 2014.
Drs. Juan Carlos González Faraco & Michael Murphy conducting fieldwork in Spain.

Briggs, Rachel V.
Evidence for Nixtamalizaton in the Southeastern United States. Poster presented at the 79th Annual Society for American Archaeology Conference, Austin, TX, April 23-27.

Briggs, Rachel V.
The Ethnohistory of Nixtamalization in the Southeastern United States. Paper presented at the 37th Annual Society for Ethnobiology Conference, Cherokee, NC, May 11-14.

Brinkman, Baba and Christopher Lynn
Quantifying Impacts of Peer-Reviewed Rap. Eighth Annual Conference of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society, New Paltz, NY, April 10-13.

Brown, Richard A., II, and William W. Dressler
Cultural consonance and the course of diabetes. Abstracts of the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, March 19-23, Albuquerque, NM.

Dressler, William W.
Who’s culturally consonant, and why? Abstracts of the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, March 19-23, Albuquerque, NM.

Dressler, William W.
Cultural Consonance: Linking the Cultural, the Individual, and the Biological. Invited lecture for the Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, Jan. 31.

Dressler, William W.
Culture: Consensus, Contention, Distribution, and Consonance. Invited lecture for the Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA, March 14.

Eubanks, Paul
A Reconstruction of the Caddo Salt Making Process at Drake’s Salt Works. Paper Presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Caddo Conference, Tyler Texas.

Herndon, Kelsey E., BA Houk, M Willis, and CP Walker.
The Structure from Motion Solution: Mapping Structure A-5 at Chan Chich, Belize. Presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology; Austin, Texas.

Kosiba, Steve
“The Cultural Landscape of Cusco before the Inkas” and “Wari Influence on Inka State Development.” Invited Lectures. Papers presented at the special symposium “The Inkas and their Origins,” Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.

Kosiba, Steve
“By this Standard: The Materiality of Social Difference in the Inka Heartland.” Paper presented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin, TX.

Kosiba, Steve
“Feeding Time: Human-Animal Sacrifices and the Making of Ontological Boundaries in the Inka Empire.” Invited Lecture. Paper presented at the special symposium “Animal Magnetism: The Push and Pull of Consocial Life,” Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University, Providence, RI.

Kosiba, Steve
“Assembling an Inka Landscape: The Construction of Land and Subjects at Inka Imperial Ollantaytambo (Cusco, Peru).” Invited Lecture. Paper presented at the Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany.

Kosiba, Steve
“Cultivating a Sacred Environment: Politics, Ecology, and the Production of Landscape in the Early Inka Empire.” Invited Lecture. Paper presented to the Department of Anthropology and Geography, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA.

Kosiba, Steve
“La percepción del espacio en el mundo andino.” Invited Lecture. Paper presented at the special conference of the Programa de Estudios Andinos, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru. Pisac, Peru.

Kosiba, Steve
“The Nature of the Inka City: Labor Coordination and Road Networks in Imperial Ollantaytambo and Cusco.” Invited Lecture. Paper presented at the special symposium “Nuevas Tendencias en el estudio del Camino Inka,” Proyecto Qhapaq Ñan and Ministerio de Cultura. Lima, Peru.

Lawhon, Taylor, Karl Bennett, and Paul Eubanks
Preliminary Interpretations from Two Potential Habitation Zones at Drake’s Salt Works. Paper Presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Greenville, S.C.

Undergraduates Sophia Fazal and Lauren Pratt at NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society conference in New Paltz, NY in April.
Undergraduates Sophia Fazal and Lauren Pratt (center) at NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society conference in New Paltz, NY in April.

Lynn, Christopher
Hard-to-Fake Signaling of Religious Commitment Reduces Biological Stress where Just Trying to Manage Impressions Does Not. Eighth Annual Conference of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society, New Paltz, NY, April 10-13.

Murphy, Michael Dean
Diversidad y contrastes en la cultura universitaria norteamericana (Diversity and Contrastes in American University Culture” presented at  the Universidad de Huelva (Spain). February 14.

Murphy, Michael Dean
Lo público y lo privado en la cultura universitaria norteamericana: el caso de la Universidad de Alabama (The Public and the Private in American University Culture: the Case of the University of Alabama) presented at the Universidad de Granada (Spain). February 25.

Oths, Kathryn S., Adam Booher, Rodrigo Lazo, and Max Stein
Biomedicine Meets a Highland Bonesetter: A Workshop Inspired by Systematic Discovery. Society for Applied Anthropology, Albuquerque, NM, Mar. 18-22.

Pratt, Lauren V. and Christopher Lynn
Human Evolution at the Hearth: The Influence of Fire on Relaxation and Psychophysiology. Eighth Annual Conference of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society, New Paltz, NY, April 10-13.

Stein, Max J.
Culture, Social Networks and Health among Andean Migrants in Northern Peru.  Paper presented to Department of Anthropology, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS.

Wells, E. Christian, Lisa J. LeCount, Thomas R. Jamison, Kara A. Rothenberg, and David W. Mixter
Ancient Maya Urban Soilscapes as Geochemical Reservoirs: Characterization of Lime-plaster Surfaces from the Palace Complex at Actuncan, Belize. A paper presented at the Association of American Geographers in the Special Session Geoarchaeology: Soils, Sediments, Cultural Stone, and Paleoenvironments, organized by Timothy Beach, Tampa, Florida, April 8-12.