Graduate Student Research Highlights


Graduate students in our department are conducting research on a wide range of topics across the sub-fields, below are just a few of the examples of such research of our current student and our recent alumni.

Tannya Forcone

Tannya Forcone is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity.  Tannya works on the team for Community and Metropolitan Change, studying the lived experience of food insecurity, investigating food inequalities and food justice in a variety of communities in the United States.  Her current focus is on food insecurity among university students.

Brianne Herrera

Brianne Herrera is a biological anthropologist who studies the evolutionary processes behind the origins of variation in modern humans.  She also examines the congruence of morphological data with genetic and climatic data, with a focus on the dispersal of humans through the New World.



Taylor Farley

Taylor Farley is a second-year masters student who is focused on medical anthropology. She is interested in questions that uncover African American's experiences with the health care system, as well as the development and implementation of community-based programs to assist underserved populations.  African Americans have the highest rate of infant mortality in the U.S. making them the target of public health messaging, which emphasizes safe sleep practices. She is currently working on a project that seeks to understand AA infant sleep practices and the reasoning behind the arrangements mothers choose. Such data are critical for developing effective public health messaging aimed at reducing infant mortality.

Lori Tremblay excavating in an historic cemetery

Lori Tremblay's research focuses primarily on the biological impact of structural violence in impoverished and institutionalized (asylum) adult populations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in New York and Wisconsin. Employing bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology, she examines human skeletal remains from archaeological contexts for evidence of disease, trauma, and other signs of physiological stress. She is interested in how normalized social and socioeconomic structures (of oppression and marginalization) as well as identity may have had an impact on health and risk for stress in past populations. She is also interested in exploring health care provisioning and efficacy in industrial era institutionalized populations.

Emma Lagan

Emma Lagan is a biological anthropologist with research interests in bioarchaeology and dental anthropology. Her research focuses on the prehistoric Ohio Valley, where she examines the transition to maize agriculture by early farmers. Lagan's research seeks to determine who were the primary consumers of maize in the society, looking at both inter- and intra-site differences through the use of dental microwear analysis and caries.

Evonne Turner-Byfield

Evonne Turner-Byfield's research employs bioarchaeology to assess inequality, disease, and structural violence amongst marginalized populations in the Caribbean.  Her current focus is on the pre- and post-colonial populations of Jamaica.

Leigh Oldershaw

Leigh Oldershaw's research focuses on exploring the lived experiences of infants and young children in Ancient Rome. Using high-resolution longitudinal weaning profiles to explore variation in weaning timing and its relationship to physiological stress in the 1st-3rd centuries AD in Roman Italy, this research tests the longstanding assumption that the weaning period would have been a vulnerable time in the life of an infant in Ancient Rome. Her work also seeks to clarify the role that variation in weaning timing played in infant stress, and shift the current bioarchaeological approach away from imprecise populational assessments of weaning toward a more precise and accurate approach, focused on exploring the impact of individual variation. In order to achieve these goals, Leigh is using a combination of histological and geochemical methods, including the use of Accentuated Striae, Daily Cross Striations, and Striae of Retzius in dental enamel, and the use of trace elements via LA-ICP-MS.

Elizabeth Gardiner conducting interviews in Burkina Faso

Taking place in Burkina Faso, Elizabeth Gardiner's research aims to empirically identify correlations, if any, between food security and land security for subsistence farmers; to record the social and administrative processes of privatizing land; and to explain the impacts that communal land tenure practices have on the processes and outcomes of privatization. Elizabeth is a U.S. Borlaug Fellow in Global Food Security. Additionally, her research is funded by the Elizabeth A. Salt Anthropology Travel Award (2014), OSU Mershon Center for International Security Studies (2014), National Science Foundation (2014), OSU Department of AED Economics (2014), West African Research Center (2015), and the OSU Office of International Affaires (2014-2017). Elizabeth’s past graduate research was conducted while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa (2009-2011) as part of the Peace Corps Masters International Program. Elizabeth also has field experience with Human-Wildlife Conflict in Kenya and Mali.

Kyle Riordan pounds kava in Fiji

Kyle Riordan's research focuses on geoarchaeological approaches to understanding landscape change and modification.  He conducts fieldwork on the island of Viti Levu, Fiji, where he investigates evidence for ecological change and agriculture from archaeological contexts in limestone caves.  He is also part of the ASOM project, which is focused on examining pastoralism and agriculture in the Dhofar region of Oman. He is currently working to extract phytoliths from soil samples and determine the potential they have to serve as climate proxies and indicators of introduced plants and animals.

Kelly Yotebieng conducting research in Cameroon

Kelly Yotebieng's research seeks to shed light on how a growing population of urban refugees recursively rebuilds their lives and communities after conflict and displacement, and how this varies by gender. Her research question asks: To what extent do women’s capacity to aspire condition their and their kin’s ability to achieve their desired futures?  With support from NSF, Fulbright IIE, Coca Cola Critical Difference for Women, OSU’s Global Gateways program, and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, she is completing 12 months of fieldwork which has been conducted over 3 years (2016-2018). The data generated is being analyzed inductively pursuant to a grounded theory approach, identifying themes that organically emerge from the data to provide perspectives on the gendered capacity to aspire situated within the broader social, political, and emotional contexts of displaced persons in cities in the developing world. She illustrates these links through the presentation of in-depth case-studies of a sub-set of the households

Ashley Edes observing gorillas at the Columbus Zoo

Ashley Edes research focuses on the health, behavior, and welfare in great apes living in zoos across the United States. Using multiple biomarkers measured from serum collected during routine veterinary exams,  estimates allostatic load, or the extent of damage and dysregulation that accumulates over the lifespan due to stress and aging. She explores how various life history traits (e.g., sex, age, number of stressful events experienced, early life adversity) associate with allostatic load in adulthood, and how having higher allostatic load in adulthood associates with several outcome variables (e.g., traditional veterinary markers of morbidity, development of chronic degenerative conditions, age at death, mortality risk). Here is a video of Ashley explaining her research at the Columbus Zoo. 

Laura Crawford

Department of Anthropology graduate student Laura Crawford works to save the prehistory of the Arctic.  Last summer she and her team-mates rushed to save artifacts uncovered as a result of warmer climates.  Read more about the story at this link.