Courtney Andrews | Advisor: Kathryn Oths

As a biocultural anthropologist, I am interested in exploring and measuring the processes by which the social and environmental constraints of lived experience get under the skin and produce predictable discrepancies in the biological functioning of human social groups. I’ve studied in Fiji and Peru, and my current research setting is the Mexican immigrant population in Birmingham, AL. I’m particularly intrigued by the paradoxical trend in epidemiological research that shows a decline in what are initially favorable health outcomes among Mexican immigrants as duration of residence in the U.S. increases despite improvements in standard of living, better access to health care, etc. My dissertation research takes a new approach to this paradox by applying the construct of cultural consonance as a mediating variable between typical measures of acculturative stress and health outcomes.  I think consonance is an effective way of exploring the relationship between cultural realities and health outcomes because it involves eliciting the meaningful ideas and behaviors shared by individuals in a particular social context and then measuring the relative ability of individuals to live up to these shared goals in their everyday lives. My research is driven by the following questions: what exactly is the source of acculturative stress, how does it manifest, and does it affect one’s ability to effectively act on the shared understandings of how to live successfully as a Mexican immigrant in the U.S., which in turn leads to a loss of coherence and chronic assaults on the body that over a lifetime cause poor health? If this can be determined, I think it will elucidate the pathways through which culture and biology intersect and interact and better explain how life events and situations alter the physiological responses of the individuals that experience them.

Jacob Aronoff | Advisor: Jason DeCaro

Broadly, I am interested in how social inequalities affect stress, development, and health. More specifically, I am currently interested in how people around the poverty line perceive and respond to their environment. I became interested in this topic after spending six years working as a line cook. While working in a restaurant, I got to know many people who work very hard for very little. Their circumstances both intrigued and enraged me. My master’s thesis research will center on line cooks, who work in a high stress environment for little pay.

Greg Batchelder | Advisor: Christopher D. Lynn

In general, I consider myself a psychological anthropologist. In particular, I am interested in how people cognitively model their illness experience and treatment options in culturally salient ways. Taking that a step further, I am also interested in measuring the efficacy of various treatment models. My Master’s thesis involved working with a group of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder who were attending a peer support group. I was able to find that people who felt more consonant with their shared model of treatment also suffered less severe symptomology. I have also conducted research examining the mental health effects of people who belong to the culture of gamers who engage in the MMO, World of Warcraft. While at the University of Alabama, I will work with the Bribri, an indigenous group in Costa Rica. In the village of Yorkin, they are operating a locally conceived and operated ecotourism project which I hope to show has preserved tradition and improved both physical and mental health. My biggest joys are watching football (Roll Tide), listening to music, fishing, and trying to lose myself in the wilderness for weeks at a time.

Anna Bianchi

Anna Bianchi | Advisor: Kathryn Oths

Anna has a B.A. in Religion from Birmingham-Southern College and an MPH in Maternal and Child Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Anna is interested in the intersections of infectious disease and reproductive health with biocultural anthropology. She is also interested in how health deservingness is determined through clinical interaction. 

Rachel Virginia Briggs | Advisor: Ian W. Brown

Research interests: Foodways, gender, and identity; social complexity and the emergence of complex societies; hominy; Mississippian and proto-historic cultural periods; historic Creek Indian archaeology; Moundville and west-central Alabama; Burke phase (A.D. 1400-1650) and western North Carolina; embodied cognition and practice theory; historical anthropology (sensu Marshall Sahlins).


At its broadest, my research focuses on the relationship between food, gender, and the emergence of socially complex societies. More specifically, through my doctoral research, I explore how changes in everyday food consumption and preparation practices led to the emergence of the social identity which formed the basis of the Mississippian civic-ceremonial center of Moundville, located in the Black Warrior River valley of west-central Alabama. Using a historical anthropological approach, I argue that between A.D. 1020-1200, Mississippianization was a civil, passive process that first involved augmenting a new foodway, the hominy foodway, into the endemic nut foodway.

In addition, I am also a junior co-director of the Exploring Joara Archaeological Project, centered in the Catawba valley of western North Carolina and focused on the Berry site, a late prehistoric/early colonial period site home to the Indian town of Joara and the Spanish colonial Fort San Juan.

Shannon Edsall | Advisor: Keith Jacobi

I’m a masters student studying bioarchaeology under Dr. Jacobi. In 2013, I earned bachelors degrees in Anthropology and Technical Writing from Auburn University (where I enjoyed answering the question of “Your major is what? What’s that?” for both subjects). While at Auburn and in my first year post grad, I dabbled in CRM and attended two archaeological field schools, one in Italy and one in east Alabama. The first, in Lucca, focused on the bioarchaeology of a medieval monastery (11th-15th century) and cemetery. The second, in Shorter, focused on Woodland and Mississippian ceramics and lithics at a village site. I’m currently interested in osteoarthritis and its links to mound construction at Moundville, as well chameleons, hiking, Game of Thrones, and Harry Potter.

Juliann Friel | Advisor: Christopher D. Lynn

As a recent graduate of The University of Alabama, Juliann is currently pursuing a master’s degree in biocultural medical anthropology. She is highly interested in human sexuality and rape culture – specifically concerned with the male perspective of rape.

While working at a local emergency department during her undergraduate career, she saw first hand the atrocities related to sexual assault; not just from the standpoint of the physical findings, but from how medical personnel, family members, and police officers handle the situations. Often, victims are not believed, especially when under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the event. Men often made jokes that the women ‘probably deserved it’. The thought that the people entrusted to provide a safe haven for victims could be so crass sickened her. In witnessing this, she felt there needed to be a systematic change in the way rape is viewed and dealt with.

Due to this, she made the decision to complete research based on rape culture among fraternity members. She wants to learn the male perspective towards rape. With this, she intends to figure out ways to change their behaviors. Instead of working with one victim at a time, she wants to change public policies that could affect communities at a time.

Lynn Funkhouser | Advisor: Keith Jacobi

I received a B.S. in Anthropology, with minors in Archaeology and Native American Studies, from Middle Tennessee State University in 2008.  As an undergraduate at this institution I was afforded several unique opportunities including working as a student researcher on the Hermitage Springs Historic Cemetery Project (under the direction of Dr. Shannon Hodge); positions as first a crew member and, later, a crew chief on the Castalian Springs Archaeological Project, a Mississippian mound site in Middle Tennessee (under the direction of Dr. Kevin Smith); and as member of the Forensic Anthropology Search and Recovery Team (under the direction of Dr. Hugh Berryman), an aspect of the MTSU Forensic Institute for Research and Education.

I received a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2011.  As a graduate student at USM I had the unbelievable good luck of again becoming involved with a wide variety of projects in both bioarchaeology (under the direction of Dr. Marie Danforth) and archaeology (under the direction of Dr. Ed Jackson) including the inventory and analysis of individuals from a Mexican-American war cemetery; an assessment of the prevalence of Klippel-Feil Syndrome (a congenital disease) in the prehistoric Southeast; as a crew member on the Winterville Archaeological Project, a Mississippian mound center located outside of Greenville, MS; and as a field technician on the Grand Bay Archaeological Project, in the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Pascagoula, MS.  My master’s thesis examined the health experiences of early eighteenth century European immigrants to the Mississippi Gulf Coast from an analysis of the remains of thirty adults recovered from the Moran French Colonial Cemetery in Biloxi, MS.

I am a first year PhD student at Alabama and an advisee of Dr. Keith Jacobi.  My current research interests include the early Mississippian period at Moundville and paleopathology with an emphasis on congenital disease, the etiology of Harris Lines, and skeletal manifestations of anemia.

Allyson Harrison | Advisor: Keith Jacobi

I’m a first year Master’s degree student with a focus on bioarchaeology. I received my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Dearborn (Go Blue!). While I was getting my Anthropology degree, I also received minors in History and Biology. My main research goals pertain to disease frequencies among different social classes. In the past I studied a Medieval French population of about 2,000 individuals for instances of Cribra Orbitalia between different groups (i.e. Men/Women, Young/Old, etc). I plan on doing more of the same here at Alabama.

Kareen Hawsey | Advisor: Ian W. Brown

My interests primarily lie in prehistoric Southeastern archaeology. Specifically, I focus on the late Woodland to early Mississippian transition, during which complex societies dependent upon maize agriculture emerged. I am particularly interested in how this transition occurred, as well as the ways in which hunter-gatherer groups interacted with those of early agriculturalists in the region.

My M.A. research involved a morphological and functional analysis of terminal Woodland West Jefferson phase pottery in the Black Warrior Valley of Alabama. I explored whether technological changes in pottery reflect the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to complex agricultural ones that occurred circa A.D. 1070. I argued that indigenous potters tended to be technologically conservative, as my research indicated that they were not adopting the pottery forms or food processing technologies of intrusive Mississippian populations.

My current Ph.D. research addresses similar issues involving early agriculturalists in Central Alabama. Although the subject of little archaeological attention, large White Oak phase village sites along the central Alabama River are perhaps some of the earliest sedentary maize agriculturalists in the region. I am examining White Oak settlement patterns, subsistence, and pottery morphology and function, with the hope that this research will contribute to broader research questions concerning the spread of maize agriculture throughout the region.

Nikki Henderson | Advisor: William Dressler

I’m a first-year masters student studying medical anthropology under Dr. Dressler. I earned my BS in Anthropology and Human Biology at Emory University in 2014. While at Emory, I worked in a paleopathology lab under the late Dr. George Armelagos, and analyzed tetracycline in the bones of the Nubian kingdom. He concluded that people purposely fermented beer using grain containing tetracycline to prophylactically treat illnesses, and the level of bone saturation suggests these methods had been in place for quite some time. However, as my studies and work with Dr. Armelagos progressed, my interests began to reside more heavily in mental health and, specifically, addiction. Primarily, I am interested in the ways in which individuals cognitively model mental illness, and the relationship between these models and perceived stigma. Additionally, I would like to study the role of the community in both the development of and recovery from dependence.

While I don’t quite understand the rules and merits of football, I’m very excited to attend a university with a top tier NCAA gymnastics team! I am also certified to judge up to level 9 in USA gymnastics, and hope to one day judge college gymnastics.

Mirjam Holleman | Advisor: Marysia Galbraith

Arrived Fall 2014.

I’m a PhD student in the Biocultural Medical Anthropology program.

My main interest is in disability studies (from an anthropological perspective) and my goal is to do research in Poland on the social inclusion and participation (or lack thereof) of people with disabilities in Polish society.  My main advisors are Dr. Marysia Galbraith and Dr. Jason DeCaro.

My M.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology was earned at the Vrije University of Amsterdam. My thesis was about dealing with diversity in a cohousing community and was based on 3 months of field research at the Ecovillage of Ithaca, where I attempted to capture the Ecovillagers’ struggle to maintain a balance between a deep respect for individuality while living together as a community, striving toward a common vision. Individuality in Community 

 I earned a B.A. in Social Sciences, with a minor in linguistics, from University College Roosevelt Academy, in Middelburg, the Netherlands, and completed a thesis called Deconstructing Discrimination which takes an anthropological, psychological, sociological, and historical perspective to analyze the roots and perpetuation of discrimination, as well as processes of religious and institutional change and the potential for social justice, focusing specifically on the constructs of race and homosexuality in U.S. society. Deconstructing Discrimination

 The topics of my B.A., M.A. and upcoming PhD research might seem completely unrelated, but actually they all reflect an interest in issues of inequality, (socially constructed) categories of discrimination, and (socially defined) perimeters of inclusion and exclusion.

Jenna Hurtubise

Jenna Hurtubise | Advisor: Lisa LeCount

Jenna Hurtubise obtained her B.A. in Archaeology in 2012 from the University of Calgary and her M.A. in Anthropology in 2015 from Louisiana State University. She is currently working on her Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Lisa LeCount with a focus in Andean archaeology and bioarchaeology. Her research interests revolve around social identity, identity transformation, and how identity is manifested in the material record and on the skeletal body. Jenna has conducted research in Peru since 2009 where she has participated in numerous excavations and osteological analyses along the north coast of Peru. Her master’s research focused on identity transformation during a crisis ritual involving a multi-event mass human sacrifice that took place at the end of the Sicán state. Through examining the different burial events, body position, grave goods, and analysis of the skeletal remains, it was discovered that elites were sacrificing other elite individuals, thereby stripping them of their elite identity and transforming them into sacred objects.


Jenna’s current research focuses on how colonialism, an asymmetrical power relationship, can transform a group’s ethnic identity through analyzing the cultural and biological data from subordinate regional groups. In order to examine this relationship she examines the interaction between the Casma and the Chimú at the Pan de Azucar mounds and associated cemeteries located in the Nepeña Valley. During the 13th century A.D., the Chimú engaged in a series of territorial expansions along the Peruvian north coast where they conquered the Casma. Through examining overt and hidden features of ethnic identity seen in elite architecture, ceramics, mortuary practices, and bioarchaeological data her research will address how the Casma responded to the incoming Chimú. Additionally, her research will contribute to anthropological models of ethnic identity transformation, hybridity, and ethnogenesis during times of foreign conquest.
Aside from research, Jenna is involved in community engagement activities in Nepeña, Peru. These activities include teaching local children about the prehistory of the Nepeña Valley, osteological analysis, and how archaeologists conduct excavation. She is also a mentor for S.L.A.M. where she mentors UA undergraduate students in the Department of Anthropology and helps with graduate school applications.

Jessica Kowalski | Advisor: John H. Blitz

I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of Mississippi in 2006 and a Master of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2009.  My thesis research involved the analysis of an Early Mississippian ceramic assemblage from the Winterville Mounds (22WS500), a large Mississippian mound center just north of Greenville, Mississippi.
Following graduate school, I worked for the Gulf Coast office of Coastal Environments, Incorporated, as a field archaeologist and project manager on projects in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  In 2011, I joined the Environmental/Historic Preservation staff at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Mississippi Recovery Office as an archaeologist. 

I am a third year student in the doctoral program at the University of Alabama.  My research interests include the archaeology of the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) and the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coasts, political organization during the Mississippian period, and the manufacture, distribution, and use of Native American Indian pottery. As part of my dissertation research, I hope to explore political organization among selected mound centers in the Southern Yazoo Basin of the LMV with a special focus on the multi-mound center of Arcola.  My major advisor is Dr. John Blitz.

Avery McNeece | Advisor: Kathryn Oths

I am a first year Ph.D. student in Biocultural Medical Anthropology. I have a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Applied Anthropology from Mississippi State University. Broadly, I am interested in community health care and health care access among the poor. For my master’s thesis, I explored a cultural model of health seeking among the working poor in Tupelo, MS. My preliminary work for my dissertation studies has been focused on the relationship between moral categories of poverty and healthcare outcomes.

I am also passionate about community engagement and applied anthropology. As part of an applied anthropology graduate class, I worked with 4th graders in the community to discuss their visions of their community in the future through artwork. Images produced by the 4th graders and quotes were used to create books presented to participants, schools, and community leaders. This added the kids’ voices to the discussions among the community planners, and helped them learn about civic responsibility and their role in the community. The images were also turned into coloring books for the kids to keep to foster continued discussions about the future.

Cassie Medeiros | Advisor: Ian W. Brown

I’m a Masters student studying archaeology under Dr. Brown. I have a BA in Anthropology and English from The College of William & Mary in Viriginia, where my primary focuses were archaeology and early Celtic and British literarture. During the summer before my last year at W&M I attended Achill Island Field School in Co. Mayo Ireland, where we excavated Kildavnet Castle – a medieval tower house controlled by the O’Malleys – to discover the bawn wall. My senior research at W&M, and what I am excited to continue to study here at the University of Alabam, is the archaeology of alcohol, primarily on Native American sites.

Larry Monocello | Advisor: William Dressler

I graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2015 with a B.A. in Anthropology and minors in Italian and Chemistry. I was drawn to Anthropology because of how it effectively challenges the “commonsense” approach to understanding the world.

My research interest lies in the cross-cultural manifestation and experience of body image and body image disorders. Body image disorders are lifelong, as well as some of the deadliest psychiatric illnesses known. Further, previous work by anthropologists has found that the experience and causes of body image disorders vary cross-culturally. I am interested in studying body image and body image disorders in men, and eventually men in minority groups as well.

Camille Morgan | Advisor: Keith Jacobi

Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, I spent my undergraduate years at Wake Forest University earning a B.A. in Anthropology with minors in both Biology and Cultural Resource Preservation. While working as a research assistant in the WFU Archaeology Laboratory, my appreciation for the field grew. This appreciation eventually found me in Portugal in the summer of 2010 completing an archaeological field school. Continuing in this vain, I returned to Portugal the following summer with funding for research and the added responsibility of assisting with the field school. I have completed research in geologic sourcing, bone weathering, and Native American dentition. While it is true that my interests vary, I look forward to finding my passion at the University of Alabama and plan to use my M.A. thesis to bridge the divide between archaeology and physical anthropology. More specifics to come!


Sarah Elizabeth Morrow | Advisor: Jason DeCaro

Sarah Elizabeth Morrow is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama. Working with her advisor, Dr. Jason DeCaro, Sarah is using spatial analysis to understand patterning of food insecurity and chronic stress in the US.

She completed her MA at the University of Alabama, under Dr. Kathryn Oths and Dr. Elizabeth Cooper. Her thesis research focused on food security and conceptual definitions of “social capital”. By working with a Tuscaloosa based non-profit organization, this research looked to understand how women in need of food assistance find food resources, share knowledge with peers, and identify the role that the community may play in accessing food. Other research interests include nutrition, public health, community health strategies, and long term study of the biocultural and psychosocial impact of food insecurity over time.

During her MA, Sarah also completed extensive research on the University of Alabama Library System with Dr. Cooper. This applied project sought to use cognitive methods to understand perceptions regarding the libraries and their uses.

Previously, she attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, receiving a BA in Anthropology and a BA in Theater. Her undergraduate research looked at the role of identity and enculturation in theater subcultures and the role of academia as a regulatory device in the arts. Southeast Asian theater, topeng performance, and general mask development are also of personal interest.

Originally from just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sarah misses the snow, the rolling hills, and, most of all, her family. But Alabama is pretty good too.

Clay Nelson | Advisor: Ian W. Brown

I am a long time resident of Tuscaloosa County and received my B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Alabama in 2012. During my undergraduate years, I quickly became interested in archaeology and spent a lot of time volunteering or working in the Gulf Coast Survey Lab and the Archaeology lab in ten Hoor. In 2010 I attended the University’s field school that was held at Asphalt Plant Mound located one mile north of Moundville. During the summer of 2011 I was fortunate enough to spend a month in Belize at the Ancient Mayan site of Actuncan. There I assisted Chet Walker of Archgeophysical Survey, LLC. in a magnetometer survey covering a large portion of the site. While I did not develop a great interest in Mayan archaeology, I did find an interest in magnetometry, other remote sensing, and its application to archaeology. Besides remote sensing I am also interested in Southeastern U.S. Archaeology, Mississippian societies, and the European contact period. 

Erik Porth | Advisor: John H. Blitz

Erik Porth is an anthropological archaeologist and doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology. His dissertation research focuses on resilience and social reorganization, ritual and performance, and choices in pottery production among late Mississippian societies in the Southeast. To answer these questions, he is recording variation in pottery vessel form, the types of ceremonial items consumed in mound ritual, and the symbolic themes represented on decorated pottery bowls and bottles from a large material collection excavated from Mound P at Moundville. This research will also utilized Neutron Activation Analysis, or NAA, which sources the chemical composition of clays used in the production of pottery vessels. He is also interested in group and individual identity, reciprocity, rites of intensification, and feasting behavior among modern populations. Porth graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2009 with my B.S. in Anthropology and the University of Alabama in 2011 with my M.A. in Anthropology. He has worked in middle Tennessee, coastal Mississippi, the Lower Mississippi Valley, and west-central Alabama.

David Scott | Advisor: Kathryn Oths

David A. Scott (Graduate Student, MA, Anthropology, Socio Cultural Anthropology)


David A. Scott
Graduate Student, The University of Alabama

Anthropology MA Program, The University of Alabama
Student Fellow, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland

Post Graduate Fellow, Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)
Overseas Member, Royal Scottish Geographical Society

Diana Simpson | Advisor: Keith Jacobi

Growing up in the central region of North Carolina, I was always fascinated by the ancient cultures that called the area home. I was able to develop this interest while attending Wake Forest University, where I earned by BA in anthropology (2013) with a strong focus on physical anthropology, biology, and archaeology. It was a research project on prehistoric health and disease demographics in North America that helped me realized my interest in bioarchaeology and paleopathology. During my Undergraduate study I also completed a Senior Thesis studying the behavior of a captive Zoo gorilla group, under the direction of Dr. Ellen Miller. I have done field work in North Carolina, and at the Petra site in Jordan with an NCSU team during the summer of 2014.

My major areas of research interest are infectious disease frequency and transmission in prehistory (in particular zoonotic disease), paleoepidemiology, population demographics, burial analysis, and also non-human primate behavior, lithic analysis and zooarchaeology. While completing my MA here at UA working under Dr. Keith Jacobi, I hope to be able to utilize my varied interests and skills to better understand prehistoric diseases and human populations.

Max Stein | Advisor: Kathryn Oths

I am a medical anthropologist interested in the ways cultural forces shape both physiological health outcomes and deeply-rooted biological processes. I recently completed my MA thesis, examining shared knowledge of the cultural syndrome nervios in Honduras, how these ideas vary between rural and urban locations, and how closely each manifestation of the illness compares to biomedical diagnostic criteria for anxiety and depression.

For my dissertation research, I will be examining a diaspora of indigenous Andeans from the small, mountain hamlet of Chugurpampa in Northern Peru, currently residing in the large, coastal city of Trujillo, to assess the interaction of social networks, migration, and culture change in shaping biological health outcomes. Investigations begin in Summer 2013, and will contribute to extensive, longitudinal research conducted by my advisor, Kathryn Oths, evaluating change and continuity of an Andean medical system. I predict that Chugurpampan emigrants residing in Trujillo will share common goals and strive for a desired lifestyle, and I hypothesize that those individuals who are more embedded in local social networks will be more successful in implementing these shared ideals in their own lives, which transitively leads to greater physiological and psychological well-being.

I am also a member of the Human Behavioral Ecology Research Group (HBERG), and have been a teaching assistant for the group’s primary investigator, Chris Lynn, assisting undergraduates with methodological concerns. Additionally, I served as a research assistant in one of the studies – Costa Rica Religious Ecology Study – examining the influence of infectious disease load on religious collectivity.

My various interests outside these investigations include biocultural anthropology, cognitive anthropology, psychological anthropology, mental health, cultural syndromes, social networks, stess, culture change, migration, Latin America, neuroanthropology, mixed-methodology, and culture theory.

Ashley Stewart | Advisor: Keith Jacobi

I received my B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in History from Auburn University in May of 2010. My main concentration within Anthropology was Archaeology, and I have since dug on sites in Romania, Greece, and all over the southeastern U.S. I am excited to continue my education at Alabama with a focus on Bioarchaeology under Dr. Jacobi. 

Robert Templin | Advisor: Lisa LeCount

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors of Arts in anthropology.  Thus far, my studies have centered on relationships between sociopolitical complexity, economics, warfare and religious ideology.  I am particularly interested in how these aspects influence one another and contribute to the acquisition and use of power in prehistoric societies.  During my graduate studies, I hope to explore the role these factors played in the power structure of Mississippian societies through the lenses of psychological, materialist and functionalist interpretation.  It is my hope that any findings might later be extrapolated cross-culturally.