The UConn Department of Anthropology is home to a diverse community of graduate students studying a variety of subfields. Continue reading to learn more about their favorite parts of their research, why they became interested in anthropology, and fun facts about them!
What sparked your interest in Anthropology/Archaeology?
When I was young, I read a book called “The Secrets of Vesuvius” written by Jane Bisel, Shelley Tanaka, and Laurie McGraw. The book had an extensive section on the skeletons found at Pompeii and Herculaneum and I remember being absolutely fascinated by how much the physical anthropologists could learn from them. The interest stuck with me, and now I too learn about ancient peoples’ lives from their physical remains.
What are your research interests?
I use a combination of stable isotopes and ancient DNA in order to learn about how the introduction of agriculture influenced the function and composition of the oral microbiome.
Where will you/are you conducting your fieldwork?
I hope to conduct fieldwork in Levant, although most of my time is currently spent in the lab.
What do you find most interesting about your field work location?
The Levant was one of the earliest centers of agriculture, and some sites in the region show a very detailed record of the various experiments people applied when they first transitioned into a farming lifestyle.
What is your most memorable experience thus far in the field?
In the summer of 2015, I worked with the Belize Archaeological Reconnaissance Project and visited Actun Tunichil Muknal cave. The cave has a plethora of intact Mayan artifacts as well as physical remains, but they can be difficult to access. I recall swimming through a deep pool of water just to get inside the cave, then climbing up slick limestone walls to reach the ritual areas. Perhaps my most memorable experience was walking in a pitch black chamber with water vapor creating a thick haze and seeing perfectly preserved artifacts everywhere I pointed my headlight.
What do you do in your “downtime?” Tell us something interesting about yourself!
When I’m not doing archaeology, I make mead and read terrible science fiction books.