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.

Benjamin Cross at a dig

Benjamin Cross is a North American archaeologist that focuses on the prehistoric Native American groups along the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. His current research focuses on understanding the resiliency of Fort Ancient communities to environmental changes, in particular flooding. These early agricultural communities would have had the benefits of the rich floodplain ecology and soils for their crops, but also would have had to deal with persistent threats from flooding. Cross uses multiple geoarchaeological methods to better understand dynamic socio-ecological relationships in the past, as well as help inform the decisions modern river towns make regarding how to plan for floods. He also has an interest in communicating archaeology to the public in a way that is both engaging and educational. 



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.

Tessa Cannon

Tessa Cannon’s research investigates Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) in wild primates living in Tai National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. She works to develop field-friendly methods to examine the relationships between SIV infection, diet, behavior, and the gut microbiome in wild Sooty mangabeys, who are naturally resistant from progression to AIDS. Wild models of SIV offer insight into human HIV infection and present opportunities for us to better understand disease etiology and discover possible interventions.

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.

Madelyn Green

Madelyn Green is a biological anthropology PhD student who focuses on the biocultural feedback effects of prehistoric people. Madelyn is particularly interested in the impacts cultural technological developments have on the biological relationships between different prehistoric populations. Her dissertation research investigates the influence seafaring technology development and usage had on the scope and rate of human biological interactions and migrations throughout the East Asian coast and the surrounding islands. This focus is used to understand past and present human variation based on the interactions between biology and culture among human populations. Further, Madelyn seeks to apply her research to challenge nationalistic narratives that employ flawed models of human migration in the past to justify colonization and oppression of modern people.  

Steven Rhue

Steven Rhue is a medical anthropologist whose research concerns children’s household water insecurity in the urban Amazon of Brazil. Children of water insecure households are at disproportion risk for death and disease related to inadequate water and sanitation. Despite their recognized vulnerability, children’s realities with water insecurity are commonly subsumed under those of their adult caretakers. Thus, we know little about how children actually experience and perceive household water insecurity. His research aims to address this gap in knowledge by incorporating children’s realities into our understanding of household water insecurity. 

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.

Craig Shapiro

Craig Shapiro is an archaeologist with interests in landscape archaeology and applied geospatial technologies. His research is focused on preliminary survey of a LiDAR dataset—digital imagery that results from airborne survey, and which reveals elevation changes in the ground surface. It reveals the Sāmoan Islands as an entirely human-modified environment, consisting of a system of ditches and terraces that extend from the coast to the remote interior.  Shapiro examines how these ditches and terraces served as a mitigation system that drained saturated soils and controlled flooding in the past, which in turn supported local agricultural production and maintained the integrity of the island’s soils and ecosystem. His research also suggests that prehistoric Sāmoans not only knew how to target specific soils for agricultural production, but that they knew that they needed to place ditches in order to maximize the agricultural output of an area.


Two flags flying, one reads "water is life"

Ryan Goeckner is a cultural anthropologist and doctoral student whose research concentrations include American Indian identities, oral traditions, and activism. His current research is focused on understanding the role of sensory experience in the identity negotiation process. Focusing on Lakota participants of the Chief Big Foot Memorial Ride, a nearly 200-mile annual ride commemorating the Wounded Knee Massacre, Ryan is interested in exploring how a wide variety of experiences, including movement along the Ride’s historic route, relationships between horses and riders, and the community formed throughout the Ride, transforms participants ideas of individual and collective Lakota identities.

Photo of Malorie Albee presenting a poster

Malorie Albee is a bioarchaeologist and doctoral candidate. Her research interests include human osteology, paleopathology, and modern human variation, especially of the foot. Specifically, her current research focuses on the plasticity of the bones of the feet and their ability to respond to various cultural pressures. Shoes, modern substrates (i.e., concrete), and activity patterns all play a role in the morphology of the foot. Because the foot bears the weight of the entire body, foot health affects the entirety of the body and total quality of life. However, the foot is often neglected in bioarchaeological studies. By examining temporal trends in osteoarthritis, entheseal changes, and metatarsal robusticity and cross-sectional geometry in a donated skeletal collection like the W.M. Bass Collection, the effects of the "culturing" of the modern human foot can begin to be understood and we can paint a more complete picture of past humans' lives in the bioarchaeological literature.