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Fall 2009

Invest in the Department of Anthropology Dear Alumni and Friends,

Bringing the study of humankind to life…

Please consider a gift or donation to the Department of Anthropology. Each and every gift makes a tangible difference in the lives or our students and faculty. All gifts are tax deductible as permitted by law. A donation to the Paul H. and Erika Bourguignon Lecture in Art and Anthropology ensures that the only annual anthropology department-sponsored event will continue on into the future. A gift of $1,000 to $5,000 provides desperately needed funds for graduate and undergraduate student fieldwork and travel abroad. Specify Account #307277. A donation to the Daniel Hughes Memorial Fund ensures that more of our best and brightest graduate students have the opportunity to travel to and present their research at professional conferences. Specify Account #20331.

Your support of the Forensic Anthropology Research Fund allows research in forensic anthropology to continue. Specify Account # 305876. Your gift of $50,000 provides scholarships for undergraduate or graduate students studying here at Ohio State. Your support of the Paleoanthropology and Evolutionary Ecology Research Fund allows undergraduate and graduate students to conduct fossil excavations and to travel to present their research. Specify Account #410528. Ancient Near Eastern Agricultural Fund: specify Account #310191. Make checks payable to The Ohio State University. Please send checks to: Department of Anthropology The Ohio State University 4034 Smith Laboratory 174 W. 18th Avenue Columbus, OH 43210

From the Chair

The Global History of Health Project

Greetings, everyone! This has been another exciting and productive year for the Department of Anthropology. Just a little more than a year ago, we moved out of Lord Hall to our newly renovated space in Smith Laboratory. The move was seamless, and the settling-in process over the last year was remarkably blemish free.

The Department of Anthropology, in collaboration with faculty from Ohio State’s Department of Economics, is leading one of the first—and the largest—international studies on the health of Europeans during the past 10,000 years. The NSF-funded European Global History of Health Project involves 72 researchers from around the globe pooling data on standardized indicators of health from skeletal remains, settlement size, latitude, and socioeconomic and subsistence patterns. The project has taken eight years and $1.2 million to organize so far.

We are sad to see one faculty retirement, Amy Zaharlick. Dr. Zaharlick joined the faculty 30 years ago, and she will be greatly missed. We welcome two new faculty, Dr. Victor Thompson and Dr. Anna Willow, to the department. Victor (Columbus campus) and Anna (Marion campus) add greatly to our growing programs. They both work on human impacts on the environment—Victor with coastal Georgia late prehistoric societies and Anna with the Ojibwe people in northwestern Ontario.

Your gift to the Human Biology Research Fund supports research on variation and diversity in human populations. Specify Account # 305746.

Our department has one of the strongest environmentally/ ecologically focused programs in the United States. Hard to believe that just eight years ago, we were a faculty of 13 and now we number 18 full-time tenured and tenuretrack faculty. Given the advances we have made, it comes as little surprise that the number and quality of graduate applications have increased.

SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES Department of Anthropology The Ohio State University 4034 Smith Laboratory 174 W. 18th Avenue Columbus, OH 43210

“A surprising amount of information can be gleaned from skeletal remains.” Clark Larsen, Global History Project

Despite the downturn in the economic environment, our department is pushing ahead in developing its programs and resources, and keeping its eye on positioning itself to become the top program in evolutionary and ecological programs in the country. For the department to continue to realize its goals, we very much need your support. Please see the back page of this newsletter to learn how you can help make a difference. Your contributions—no matter how big or small—will go a long way in helping us support student research and to continue to build the laboratory-based infrastructure for our research programs overall. All of your dollars support directly our work and facilities. Not a nickel goes to administrative overhead. With this in mind, please consider a donation to the Department of Anthropology. And please feel free to call me at (614) 292-4117 or send e-mail to any time!

Clark Larsen Chair and Distinguished Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Recently, co-investigators Clark Larsen and Richard Steckel (Anthropology and Economics) and their colleagues unveiled their first results, which covered 11,000 skeletons from Europe. Their findings suggest that most people’s health deteriorated over the past 3,000 years despite advances in agriculture and infrastructure. Project researchers hope that these insights from the past could help us to better understand how disease and malnutrition spread in the past in order to apply those lessons in the future.

Conference on Evolution Theory, Life History, and Human Longevity The Department of Anthropology hosted a Wenner-Gren Foundation sponsored Conference on Evolution Theory, Life History, and Human Longevity, co-chaired by Doug Crews and Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg, February 6 and 7, 2009. Anthropologists from Ohio State and from around the country presented on topics such as teeth and life history in Neanderthals and modern humans, brain growth and human evolution, and frailty and life vulnerability.

Honorary Degree to Esteemed Paleontologist An honorary doctorate was presented to Charles K. Brain, one of the world’s leading paleontologists, at Ohio State’s winter 2009 commencement. Dr. Brain was nominated for this honor by Ohio State anthropology professor Jeffrey McKee.

Bringing the study of humankind to life... Dr. Barbara Piperata poses for a photo with local children while collecting diet and activity data in the Amazon.

Two new faculty members join Anthropology:

FACT: Enrollment in anthropology classes at Ohio State has increased 23% in the last three years.

Victor Thompson, assistant professor, archaeology, specializes in the study of socio-political complexity and the historical ecology of wetland and coastal environments in the southeastern United States. Anna Willow (Marion), assistant professor, cultural anthropology, specializes in the study of indigenous environmental movements and the cultural and political ecology of Anishinaabe anti-clearcutting activism in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.

Student News FACT: Over 20% of anthropology majors are honors students.

Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award for 2008–2009 Jennifer Spence was tapped for the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award in Anthropology for 2008–2009. This award recognizes the teaching excellence and contributions to the teaching mission of the Department of Anthropology. The award also acknowledges the importance of graduate teaching in the life of the department.  Catherine Cook received a grant from the International Primatologicial Society for her dissertation field research in Gabon. Britney Kyle was awarded a Fulbright Grant for her doctoral dissertation research in Albania. 

Amelia Hubbard received a $25,000 Fulbright-Hayes Scholarship—one of only a handful of graduate students at Ohio State to receive this award. In addition, Amelia was awarded a Wenner-Gren Foundation grant for her dissertation research in Kenya. Gayatri Thampy was awarded a research fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution’s Tropical Research Institute for her dissertation research on land use and land reforms in Panama. Bernardo Rios received the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences AGEP/SBES/NSF Graduate Research Assistantship. Lesley Gregoricka, was awarded a Royal Anthropological Institute (United Kingdom) Ruggles-Gates Biological Anthropology Grant for the support of her dissertation research in United Arab Emirates.  Hedy Justus received a fellowship to attend the Joint Prisoner of War/ Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) Forensic Academy.  Sarah Martin, Lesley Gregoricka, Marnie Shaffer, Mandy Agnew, Dan Tyree, and Heather Jarrell were awarded Graduate School Alumni Grants for Graduate Research and Scholarship. Lesley Gregoricka, Britney Kyle, Tracey McKinney, and Leslie Williams were the recipients of the 2009 American Association of Physical Anthropologists William S. Pollitzer Student Travel Awards. Amy Eakins was selected as one of five Ohio State undergraduate Honors students to travel to Sao Paulo, Brazil, as part of the Brazil Research Exchange program.

Sixth annual Bourguignon Lecture in Art and Anthropology

fer program dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and ending hunger among Brazil’s 44 million poorest citizens. Piperata’s research is the first study to look at the impact of the program on the rural poor.

Stephen D. Nash, scientific illustrator, Conservation International, and research associate in the department of anatomical sciences at State University of New York at Stony Brook, was the featured speaker at the annual Paul H. and Erika Bourguignon Lecture in Art and Anthropology on May 21, 2009. Nash’s artwork has been called “the taxonomic gold standard” for the identification of primates, making his work the most widely recognized of any primate artist.

Piperata has been working in the eastern Amazon region since 2002. She has been studying growth and development, dietary intake, and physical activity patterns in rural communities experiencing the nutrition transition. “The nutrition transition refers to the increase in obesity and associated health issues such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease occurring in developing countries,” Piperata explains. As rural Amazonian populations become more involved in a cash-based market economy, their diet and activity patterns change, leading to changes in their nutritional status. Anthropological field studies, such as Piperata’s, are critical to exposing how economic changes affect dietary choice and work patterns resulting in this major health transition.

Spotlight on Faculty Research: Barbara Piperata Barbara Piperata, assistant professor, along with graduate researchers Pedro Da Gloria, Sofia Ivanova, and Jennifer Spence, and two undergraduates, recently returned from the Brazilian Amazon where they conducted research on the impact of a conditional cash transfer program (Bolsa Família) on the nutritional status and dietary intakes of rural horticultural populations living in the eastern Amazon. The Bolsa Família program is the world’s largest conditional cash trans-

FACT: The department has grown from 13 to 18 faculty in the last six years.

Brazil has made a major economic investment in the Bolsa Família program in hopes of improving food security and the health of women and children. Piperata’s team collected quantitative data and conducted in-depth interviews with community members to gather insight into how people understand and utilize funds from the program, information critical for interpreting health outcomes, as well as designing future programs. For three months, the research team collected anthropometric (height, weight, body fat, and muscle mass) and detailed dietary intake data at both the household and individual

Undergraduate Profile: Kristen Ritchey

ogy in Leipzig, Germany, where she studied modern human variation in dental tissues.

On the West Coast of Africa, Kristen Ritchey is known as “Kelly Kelta mo lesdi America”—swinging Kelly from America—after she participated in the dances of the WoDaaBe pastoralists.

level in Bolsa Família receiving and non-receiving homes. They also conducted interviews on household economics, experiences with the Bolsa Família program, and food security. These data will be used to identify longitudinal changes in nutritional status and dietary adequacy in these communities, as well to understand how the Bolsa Família program is affecting child growth and development, dietary quality, and levels of food security. Beyond learning Portuguese and having firsthand experience living and working in the rural Amazon, students learned many standard anthropological field methods including anthropometry, interviewing skills, and how to collect dietary data using the weighed-inventory method (where all items consumed are catalogued and weighed to the nearest gram). Now that they are back from the field, the team will work on data analysis and the publication of their research results.

Funded by an SBS Undergraduate Research Grant and an Undergraduate Student International Travel Grant, Kristen conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Cameroon, working alongside traditional and hired herders in the Logone floodplain. Over several months, Kristen interviewed absentee owners who use hired herders to take care of their animals to better understand the impact on economic wellbeing among the laborers and rangeland management. Kristen’s research project is the first to systematically examine the assumptions about contract labor in African pastoral systems. Hired herders used to be paid for their work in cows, not cash. However, changes over the last several years have led to herders being compensated in cash—approximately $20 a month, an amount well below the international poverty line. “Having a cow is like having a savings account,” explains

Kristen Ritchey with herders and families on the west coast of Africa.

Kristen. “Cows provide sustenance as well as a means of trade for hired herders and their families.” Cash payments transformed a sustainable way of life for contract laborers into a barely sustainable one. Kristen will be graduating in 2010 with plans to attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in anthropology.

Graduate Profile: Robin Feeney Robin Feeney traveled from England to enroll in Ohio State’s Department of Anthropology graduate program because of its reputation in the field of biological anthropology. Ever since she was a little girl, Robin was fascinated with natural “stuff”—rocks, plant seeds, and even dirt. Older now, Robin is fascinated with teeth. “Teeth are usually the best preserved remains and it’s important to understand them so they can provide us with information about ourselves and our ancestors.” She is particularly passionate about her work on understanding the sexual differences in teeth. Robin was selected for a pre-doctoral fellowship at the internationally acclaimed Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropol-

Robin’s mentor and advisor, Dr. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg, provided tremendous professional and personal support to Robin throughout her graduate school career. In Robin’s own words, Dr. Guatelli-Steinberg was instrumental in her development and success. While undertaking her predoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute, Robin coauthored journal submissions with researchers from the institute. One of her coauthored pieces, published in the Journal of Human Evolution, establishes clear differences between Neandertals and modern humans in the proportions of hard tissues that compose their teeth. Another piece analyzes tooth composition differences between humans and the so-called “robust” australopithecines, a 1.5-million-year-old side branch of the human evolutionary tree. With three years of teaching experience at Ohio State, Robin is well on the way to achieving her goal of becoming a university professor.

Robin Feeney with her work—in her hand, a fragment of a mandible; on the screens behind her, images of a micro-CT slice through a deciduous molar (left screen) and a raw image of a chimpanzee metacarpal.


Faculty News

Kristen Ritchey with herder in a traditional planting dance.

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