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Undergraduate Research Experience

Students outdoors at field schoolMany undergraduate students participate in various research opportunities during their time as an Anthropology major. Active involvement in field schools, ethnographic fieldwork, labs, museum internships, and independent research projects provide our students with meaningful high-impact learning experiences that build on their knowledge of and expertise in Anthropology.

Recent Field School Experience

Texas A&M Archaeological Field School in Idaho (Summer 2012)

Archeological Fieldwork Experience

Scott Baumgartner conducted archaeological fieldwork in Belize under the supervision of Dr. Bruce Dickson. He received ANTH 485 credit for this project based on a field log and research paper. (Summer 2010)

Angela Gore and Tarah Marks conducted archaeological fieldwork in Alaska during the summer of 2010 under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Graf, and then continued to process and analyze the fieldwork data during the fall 2010 semester. They both received ANTH 485 credit based on a final report summarizing the fieldwork project. Angela and Tarah’s research has been funded by a NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates award. (Summer 2010 and Fall 2010)

Ashley Ahman, Ray Burnham, Grace Mills, Stephanie Rivera, and James Zerbe are participating in the Summer Field School in Beringian Archaeology and Paleoecology in Alaska, led by Dr. Kelly Grafand Dr. Ted Goebel. The field school focuses on the archaeological and paleoecological record of the late Pleistocene-early Holocene interior Alaska. They are receiving 5 hours of ANTH 330 credit. (Summer 2011)

Justin Holcomb is working at the Debra L. Friedkin archaeological site in Texas, under the supervision of Dr. Mike Waters. (Summer 2011)

During the summer of 2012, Texas A&M University organized an Archaeological Field School in Idaho led by Drs. Ted Goebel and Kelly Graf.

Colleen Kennedy worked with Dr. Suzanne Eckert at the Goat Springs archaeological fieldwork site in New Mexico. (Summer 2011)

Student sitting at bottom of excavation

Ethnographic Fieldwork Experience

Caroline Barrow conducted ethnographic research in several European countries under the supervision of Dr. Cynthia Werner. Her project evaluated the success and challenges of NGO projects designated to reduce the trafficking of women and children for prostitution. She received ANTH 485 credit for this project based on the completion of a research paper. (Summer 2010)

Michele Horner is conducting ethnographic research on fishing practices in Dominica under the supervision of Dr. Michael Alvard. Her project focuses on the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADS) and the marketing of fish on the island of Dominica. She will receive ANTH 485 credit for this project through the completion of a research paper and the five powerpoint presentations. (Summer 2011)

Laboratory Experience

Scott Baumgartner completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Wayne Smith, focusing on archaeological conservation methods at the Conservation Research Laboratory. (Summer 2011)

Alyssa Barraz, Clint Crabill, Angela Gore, Justin Holcomb, Eugene Sohn, Leanne Sterns,andTiphane Want have worked as volunteers in the laboratories affiliated with the Center for the Study of the First Americans. (Fall 2010, Spring 2011)

Thomas Derryberry worked in the Richard Steffy Ship Reconstruction Lab with Dr. Filipe Castro. He learned how to use Rhinocerous® 3D design software to create sets of drawings of several Portuguese shipwrecks, and then analyzed their basic dimensional characteristics. Thomas received ANTH 485 credit for this project. (Summer 2011)

Colleen Evans completed a directed studies (ANTH 485) internship for the human osteology lab underDr. Lori Wright. Duties included aiding in the instruction of the osteology lab class, as well as editing textbook materials. (Fall 2011)

Museum Internship Experience

Kim Healy worked as an intern at the Brazos County Museum of Natural History, under the supervision of Dr. Cynthia Werner. Kim helped curate the museum exhibit on Mongolian Kazakhs. She received ANTH 484 credit based on this service learning experience, a diary of her experience, and a final paper. (Fall 2009)

Analicia Leiva, Morgan M. Maddox, Jennifer Marie Reibenspies, Stephanie Erin Rice, Nicole Janssen, Renee Meyer, Eleesha Blackwell and Allison Olivarez have all worked for one semester as an intern at the Star of the Republic Museum, under the supervision of Dr. David Carlson and Dr. Shawn Carlson (Curator of Collections at the museum). The internship provides an overview of basic museum operations and may include research, data entry, scanning documents, transcribing documents, photographing artifacts, inventorying collections, etc. This opportunity is available each semester. Each student receives 3 hours of ANTH 484 internship credit for this service learning experience. (Fall 2010, Spring 2010, Fall 2011)

Independent Research Projects

Suzy Billington completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Darryl de Ruiter, based on a quantitative assessment of extant bovid dental morphology from South Africa as a way to facilitate greater precision and reliability when analyzing faunal assemblages. For this project, Suzy learned how to prepare digital images of teeth for analysis. (Fall 2010)

Thomas Derryberry completed his second independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Filipe Castro, continuing his study of post-medieval ship construction. He is focusing on the elements of wooden shipbuilding. (Summer 2010 and Fall 2011)

Angela Gore received independent study credit (ANTH 485) with Dr. Sheela Athreya, focused on learning techniques for morphometric analysis. Specifically, Angela learned how to use a 2-D digitizer to analyze cranial outlines. (Fall 2010)

Jennifer Heuck completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Norbert Dannhaeuser, focusing on sociocultural changes during the transition from the Roman era to the Byzantine era in Italy. Her project resulted in a research paper. (Fall 2010)

Lisa Lopez completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Tom Green, focusing on the impacts of globalization on Yi ethnic identity in the Liangshan Li province of China. This project resulted in a research paper. (Fall 2010 and Spring 2011)

Tarah Marks completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Sheela Athreya that focused on techniques for morphometric analysis. She developed a protocol for digitizing a series of modern human femora (femurs—thigh bones). Tarah completed the digitization of over 100 femoral specimens, and afterwards continued working with Dr. Athreya as a research assistant. She is a co-author on two forthcoming publications involving a study of fossil and modern human frontal bones. Her research experience influenced her decision to pursue graduate studies and strengthened her graduate school application. Beginning in the Fall of 2011, Tarah will be pursuing an M.A. in Anthropology University College-London. (Fall 2010)

Cy Mills completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Bruce Dickson, involving a cross-cultural investigation of violence and warfare. This project resulted in a research paper. (Spring 2011)

Jennifer Nichols completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Shelley Wachsmann, focusing on various aspects of archery in the ancient world. This project resulted in a research paper. (Spring 2011)

Lauren (Aiden) Powell is working on a senior thesis through the Undergraduate Research Scholar Program. Her project, under the direction of Dr. Cynthia Werner, examines the health care experiences of college students belonging to a minority population. She is receiving independent study (ANTH 485) credits both semesters. (Fall 2011 and Spring 2012)

Stephanie Shively completed an honors thesis under the supervision of Dr. Sheela Athreya. Her research project was funded by an Undergraduate Research Scholar. Her thesis was entitled “The Myths of Maternity: A Comparative Study of the Medical and Mythological Practices of Highland Tibetan Populations to Prove Cultural Adaptations to High-Altitude Hypoxia.” (May 2008)

Amy Skrla completed a senior honors thesis for the Undergraduate Research Scholars program, entitled “Unlocking Ancient Diet: Using Starch Granules in Food Residue From Cooking Ceramics to Analyze Pre- Columbian Era Caddo Diet.” Dr. Alston Thoms served as her advisor for this project. (Spring 2011)

Kaitlyn Stiles completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Sheela Athreya, focusing on the modern human femur bone. After completing this course, she worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for Dr. Athreya’s Human Variation course. She helped choose the readings, gave a guest lecture on skin color variation, and assisted the students with reading and writing assignments. Her research experience influenced her decision to pursue graduate studies and strengthened her graduate school application. Kaitlyn was accepted with funding into the Ph.D. program in anthropology at UT-Knoxville, and will start her studies in the fall of 2011. (Spring 2010, Fall 2011)

Alesha Summers completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Norbert Dannhaeuser, focusing on ethnographic studies of Thailand. The project resulted in a research paper. (Summer 2010)

Morgan Wagnon completed a second independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Bruce Dickson, focusing on the classification of relics beyond the system used by the Catholic Church, as well as the psychological mechanisms surrounding the veneration of these relics. Morgan’s project led to an undergraduate thesis. (Spring 2011 and Fall 2011)

Kelsey Witt completed an independent study (ANTH 485) with Dr. Darryl de Ruiter researching and summarizing readings in biological anthropology and paleoanthropology. The project culminated in a term paper. (Fall 2011)

Other Past Experience

Volunteer Work with the Department Collections. Interested students are encouraged to contact Dr. Suzanne Eckert if they are interested in working with the Archaeological Research Collections.

Volunteer Work with the Annual Hot Rocks Cook Off. The event provides an opportunity for students and community members to observe and learn about ancient methods of food preparation using earth ovens. Interested students are encouraged to contact Dr. Alston Thoms if they are interested in the planning and organization of this event, which typically takes place in November.

Graduate-Undergraduate Mentorship Program. Beginning this fall, the graduate students in the Department of Anthropology will be launching this new program as a way for undergraduate students to receive hands-on experience and guidance from a graduate student by assisting that student with their research. Besides the extra help with research, the graduate student also gets a great opportunity to develop professionally and develop friendships with the undergraduates. A kick-off meeting is scheduled for Fall 2011. Interested students should contact the coordinator of this program, Nick Mizer (