Building a Literature Bank in Forensic Anthropology Builds Team-Based Skills for Graduate School

Lauren Mitchell, Annaleise Schneider, and Caitlin Hobbs

While the summer semester came with additional challenges because of the coronavirus, these challenges did not put a damper on academic curiosity and endeavors. Throughout the summer I had the opportunity to take a directed applied research course with Dr. Gooding. Through this course I was able to establish a deeper appreciation for the research process. I conducted literature searches and paraphrased research studies and books. Additionally, I learned new methods behind age estimation techniques in forensic anthropology using various skeletal markers. All the while, care was taken to ensure that academic rigor was on par with what we as students would experience in person. Dr. Gooding had online team meetings with us every few weeks to discuss our progress and was always available on our team chat. I also worked on an outreach project for the anthropology open house in order to introduce students to opportunities in biological anthropology within the department. All in all, I learned many valuable new skills with my experience as a research assistant with Dr. Gooding for the summer. From gathering information to aid in the research process and collecting information to synthesizing the information from the source articles concisely. These things will be valuable for my future in graduate school. – Mitchell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our group research work was shifted to a virtual classroom. While a virtual classroom might seem like a difficult place to conduct group research, our group found we were able to communicate and cooperate from a distance, both effectively and efficiently. Our group conducted meetings intermittently via MS teams, allowing us to chat and collaborate on our research while also providing the unique opportunity to get to know each other and meet one another’s pets. We gained experience in graduate level applications of research skills through intensive research and review, and we were each able to focus on our personal areas of interest. Personally, I was able to explore methods and practices used in the field of forensic anthropology, and to take a detailed look into trauma interpretation, pathological conditions and anomalies, forensic scene recovery, taphonomy, and methods used to estimate the postmortem interval. Towards the end of the semester, we were able to return to campus for a few days for in-person teamwork, cultivating and organizing the skeletal collection for the Department of Geography and Anthropology. Throughout the semester, I gained valuable insight into methods and applications relevant to my field of interest, experience compiling and succinctly annotating articles, and an understanding of team research. This knowledge proved to be exceedingly valuable for my current and future academic endeavors, and subsequently, for my career aspirations. – Schneider

Moving online during the COVID-19 pandemic was definitely a challenge, and with a different group of people it would have posed an issue. Fortunately, everyone involved with our project were the kind of people who could make sure they got their part done with just a few Microsoft Team meetings or reaching out for help if needed in the team chat. The occasional guest appearance of everyone’s pets was just an added bonus. The subject field was wide enough that all of us were able to choose specific topics within the field of forensics. For instance, I don’t have much interest in the medico-legal side of the field and don’t plan on going into the law enforcement field, but I have interest in ancient cultures and grave retrievals so I chose topics relevant to identification of sex, ancestry, and age in skeletons, personal identification, and comingling issues. Unfortunately, unlike the others in my group, I was unable to make it to campus for any extra in-person projects. Regardless, I was still able to gain valuable experience and knowledge working at a graduate level through collecting the necessary studies and annotating them. This experience will be incredibly important moving forward with attending graduate school and later, a career in the field of anthropology. – Hobbs

Anthropology Goes Digital

Chelsea Walker

There’s a saying, that I’ve heard before, that, “Life is like looking both ways before you cross a street, and then getting hit by an airplane.” Now, with a chuckle and a smile on my face, I have to say that sometimes there is a smidge of truth in these sayings. For me, and I’m sure for many others, one very fine example of said saying was the summer of 2020.  After working every semester (including summers) for the last 4 years, all that was needed was an internship or practicum in my final summer semester, and I would graduate with a degree in anthropology! Dreaming of becoming an archaeologist, I was poised to join a field school in Italy, but as COVID-19 spread further, borders were then closed, and field schools cancelled. As I worried for the status of my graduation, and panic threatened to set in, I thankfully kept a line of communication open with my professors who started offering remote practicum opportunities! After much deliberation and communication, I happily ended up taking the opportunity underneath Dr. Gooding, a professor of anthropology at KSU.

 I started off the summer by simply editing websites for KSU’s anthropology department, while brainstorming ideas for an engagement video for archaeology at KSU. This practicum challenged me to be flexible, to think outside of the box, to get out of my comfort zone, and come up with ways to get people engaged and excited about archaeology remotely. I learned new skills in video design, editing, and voice overs through the length of this course that I will be able to take into any career I go into. I enjoy being creative, so once got the ball rolling, then there was no stopping the ideas that kept coming! After finishing the archaeology engagement video, I was then able to take my interest in physical anthropology and the human skeleton and create an engagement video for prospective students. I then was able to create an advice video of tips and tricks for students who have enrolled in “The Human Skeleton” course. In the end, I was able to take my love of anthropology and archaeology and make videos that will help KSU and students for years to come.

Creating an engagement video for showcasing archaeology.

Overall, this practicum taught me to be flexible, roll with what comes my way, and to think outside of the box. From student to student, don’t ever let any obstacle get in your way of pursuing your degree or your dreams! Whether you decide on (or life throws you onto the path of) an internship or a practicum, always keep an open line of communication with the people you are working with and put your best foot forward!

Creating a tips and tricks video for ANTH 2223 The Human Skeleton from a prior student’s perspective!

Exploring Introductions to Biological Anthropology Before College Using Textbook Content Analysis

Abby Hill

            I wanted to do this project for my Directed Applied Research because I had never even heard of anthropology before coming to college. I chose to do Anthropology 1101 to satisfy a core requirement and immediately fell in love with the discipline. I changed my major to anthropology in the same semester.

            Starting this project, I identified key concepts of biological anthropology and created three main categories: primatology, paleoanthropology, and microevolution. I created more subcategories for each larger category by further identifying specific themes and topics like primate adaptations, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and misconceptions. By using these, it allowed me to “code” and to analyze qualitative data. I gathered high school biology textbooks from the Teacher Resource and Activity Center in the education building. I only ended up getting five, but I transcribed each section (microevolution, primates, and human evolution) into an Excel spreadsheet. I also took pictures of each figure or diagram in the sections to compare information. Then I used NVivo software to code all of the text and to analyze the themes and concepts that were most commonly used.

Bar graph representing some of the primate species included in the textbooks.

            After doing this project, I found that neither Cobb County nor the Georgia Department of Education require schools to teach biological anthropology in high school. The concepts of microevolution, primatology, and paleoanthropology were available in the high school textbooks, but the primate and human evolution sections were not required to be taught. Four out of the five textbooks were co-authored by the same person which made the content and pictures similar, if not identical. Finding out that anthropology in general wasn’t taught at any level before collegiate, but psychology and sociology are, was a little frustrating because anthropology seems to not get enough attention as a social science. But I’m hopeful that as more disciplines emerge and gain popularity, it will raise more awareness for younger students looking for paths in life that may not be introduced in the public-school system.

Mortuary Archeology in Poland: The Slavia Project’s Deviant Burials

Aleese Callum

Images of adolescent female with a copper headband and coin placed by her left mandible. There is also a bow shaped sickle that was placed with the blade firmly against her throat (Slavia Project 2012).

A Little About the Internship

This summer I got accepted to attend a Mortuary Archaeology Field school located in Ryczyn, Poland. The school is well known as The Slavia Project (http://www.slavia.org/), and the objective is to teach students from around the world the studies of Adult and Juvenile Osteology, Human Burial Excavation, Bio-archaeology in Practice, Early Medieval Funerary Practices in Poland, Archaeological Field Research Techniques, as well as Archaeological Material Processing and Curation. The other goal is to rescue the excavations at the endangered archaeological site of Drawsko (the main site for ‘deviant’ burials!)

For several weeks’ students are in both the field honing their excavation skills as well as the lab to analyze the bones and cultural material, and in turn making science look exceptionally cool! Needless to say, this is an AMAZING opportunity and one would be insane to not go for an international trip across the world to dig up bones in a Medieval Cemetery!

Unfortunately, the Summer of 2020 proved to be a very hard one for many, due to the COVID19 pandemic, so this trip, like many others I’m sure, was cancelled. But I will sit here and encourage you that with passion comes determination. So instead of physically travelling to Poland, I took a “Cyber-trip” to Poland’s Medieval Era and discovered a world of Myths, Superstitions, Archaeological finds and Scientific Debate.

Internship to Practicum: What I Did Instead

The first and most important task that I had to ensure, was to establish and maintain my communication with the lead supervisor for the trip. Dr. Polcyn and I communicated via email throughout the entire process. Even after the trip was cancelled and transformed from an internship to a practicum, she was willing to send me references, suggestions for reading material and would answer any and all my questions that I had during my research.

Since my internship had been turned into a practicum, you can guess that a lot of the work was done by digging through Research Articles, Academic Journals and Thesis’ of other researchers. All relevant material had to then be annotated and the final product is, in my opinion, an amazing paper that covers the topic of ‘deviant’ burials and the connection they have to past and modern claims to ‘vampires’! I told you I found a world of Myths and Superstition along-side Archaeological finds! If I am being honest, as fun as it would have been to travel to Poland, I don’t think that I would have discovered the deep connection that the Slavic folkloric culture and today’s modern subculture has with these deviant graves. Yes, I have discovered a modern subculture of individuals who have taken the discoveries made by archaeologist and melded it with Slavic folklore to make the claim that vampires are real and that they themselves are in fact…vampires.

In Conclusion

In the end, I have managed to form a connection with someone who is willing to guide me through my future endeavors within the field of Mortuary Archaeology, that has international experience. I am honored to say that Dr. Polcyn has invited me back to join them for the next session, given the hopes that COVID19 will be a thing of the past.

I have also learned so much and this research has peaked my interest in deviant graves. I would like to learn more about deviant graves from around the world and what cultural connections they may have. Are they as strong as the ones in Europe during the Middle Ages? I am going to work hard to find the answer to that question!

As a final note, I will encourage anyone who has a desire to travel for an internship, please, go for it. I will also encourage you to form strong connections with the individuals that are guiding you through your internship, don’t drop the ball on maintaining a connection with them, even after the internship is over. These individuals can help you in so many ways and who doesn’t want help in forming a successful career or just reaching a certain goal in life?

Works Cited

Slavia Project. 2012. “Grave 6/2012.” Slavia Foundation. Buried with sickles: early modern interments from Drawsko, Poland. Drawsko.

Summer 2020 Online Practicums

With the current pandemic, some anthropology seniors are questioning how they will complete the required 3 credit hours in ANTH 3398 (Internship) or ANTH 3397 (Practicum). If you’ve been struggling to find an internship this summer, our amazing faculty would like to offer the following research projects as online practicums (ANTH 3397) that can be completed this summer.

Please reach out to the individual faculty member listed if you are interested in their project. Registration for ANTH 3397 will only be made available after you coordinate with that professor.

Available Projects

The Effectiveness of Indigenous Peacebuilding in Indigenous Context through an analysis of the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) with Dr. Brandon Lundy. Email Dr. Lundy for more information and check out his faculty web page.

Anthropology Community Outreach and Education with Dr. Teresa Raczek. Email Dr. Raczek for more information and check out her faculty web page.

•       Document public anthropology education projects

•       Create fun and educational activities to teach anthropology to the public

•       Learn about anthropology pedagogy

Alumni Outreach with Dr. Teresa Raczek. Email Dr. Raczek for more information and check out her faculty web page.

•       Interview alumni and write a series of articles for our Dept. website

•       Gain interviewing and writing skills

•       Explore interesting careers

South Asia Archaeology Radiocarbon Analysis with Dr. Teresa Raczek. Email Dr. Raczek for more information.

•       Contribute to radiocarbon database using published data

•       Learn about 3rd millennium BCE archaeological sites

•       Learn how to do simple analyses of radiocarbon data

Visual and Media Analysis of a Global Pandemic: Ethnographic Perspectives on Community Responses with Dr. Debarati Sen.

Professionalism in Anthropology with Dr. Alice Gooding. Email Dr. Gooding for more information and check out her faculty web page.

Spring Semester Presentations!

This May our senior Internship and Research Practicum students presented their amazing work to a panel of faculty and peers. From private companies to non-profits, our interns developed a range of skills in contemporary work places and put their anthropological knowledge to good use. Congratulations to those who scored a paying job as a result of their internship!

Our research students explored biological and cultural variation while testing basic and applied scientific questions. Congratulations to our seniors who have been accepted to graduate school programs in the fall! Check out our department Facebook page for all the updates: https://www.facebook.com/KSUGeoAnth

Bones on the Road

Marcus Pettiford

For my practicum, I was given the opportunity to work with Dr. Gooding on public outreach and the expansion of Forensic Anthropology within community schools. My overall goal was to create a Forensic Anthropology Traveling Trunk designed to teach grades K-5. While the thought of this creation may have sounded it easy, it was rather challenging creating each activity based on the State of Georgia’s standards.  My goals were easily accomplished by working with teachers from different schools when it came to designing my Traveling Trunk. With the help of public educators, I wanted to create activities that would promote forensic anthropology but also in a fun way that students would be interested in participating.

Throughout the semester, I was also taking Lab in Forensic Anthropology which helped guided me when it came to preparing my activities.  My finished product was a mobile traveling case that public educators can use to teach students about Forensic Anthropology. The trunk consisted of four different activities, Sex estimation, Human vs. Animal Identification, Trauma Analysis, and Long Bones Identification. Lastly, if given the opportunity I would like to expand more on my research and see how other public educators and students across America enjoy the use of Traveling Trunks.

Zooarchaeology on Display

Christie Eades

This semester I had to opportunity to create a comparative collection of animal bones for Investigators and students to study. This involved collecting animals remains and processing them to be able to see the anatomical and morphological differences between human bone and non-human. Another aspect of the project was collecting animal bones from local butcher shops to show what domesticated animal bones look like compared to other native wildlife species.

During the Spring of 2019 over 700 animal bones were analyzed, collected and cataloged. I created an Excel spreadsheet of the species of animals I collected along with number of bones and type. Animal bones in the collection featured: American Black Bear, Armadillo, Beaver, Bobcat, Cougar, Cow Coyote, Domestic Cat, Domestic Dog, domestic Ferret, Domestic Pig, Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Easter Gray Squirrel, Grey, Fox, Horse, Raccoon, Red Wolf, Striped Skunk, Virginia Opossum, White Tailed Deer, and Wild Juvenile Boar.

Another aspect of the project was creating a display case of animal skulls to show the differences between cranial and dental features along with how it changes along species.  Finally, I took photos of comparing the morphological differences of the animals listed above compared to human. The photos were compiled into a manual that compared each bone to human. The manual can be used in the field or even classroom setting to identify animal vs. human bone.

KSU Anthro Goes to the Georgia Academy of Science

March, 2019- KSU Anthropology gave five presentations this year at the annual Georgia Academy of Science meeting at the University of North Georgia, Gainesville. This conference is a great opportunity for students to present their research in a low-stress environment. Students can also submit manuscripts for publication to the Georgia Journal of Science. This is a fantastic way to build your CV and get started on your academic journey. Congratulations to all!

EVALUATION OF MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD HUNTING PRACTICES IN GEORGIA**, Bryant C. Long*

PATTERNS OF SWIFT CREEK INTERACTION IN THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER VALLEY, Gary Owenby*

ENERGY EXPENDITURE ACROSS THE ETOWAH CHEIFDOM: TESTING A HUMAN MODEL AGAINST ESTABLISHED ALGORITHMS**, Alice F. Gooding, Joseph Eleam*, and Patrick Wilborn*

TESTING ANCESTRAL HOMOGENEITY OF ANATOMICAL TEACHING CRANIA**, Christopher M. Goden, Alice F. Gooding

ENGAGING WITH THE PUBLIC: AN EXAMINATION OF AN ANTHROPOLOGY OUTREACH PROGRAM, Hannah D. Bauguess*

End of Anthropology section presentations on Saturday- what a great group!
KSU Anthro student Hannah gave a strong presentation about her efforts to engage Atlanta area communities with anthropology.
KSU Anthro senior, Chris, won the award for Best Undergraduate Anthropology Paper!

Study Abroad: Understanding Human Ecology in Guinea-Bissau

Rachel Langkau

All of us with our two Kriol teachers Falarim and Sana along with one other student outside Tchicote

The broad goal of the summer study abroad practicum with Dr. Lundy was to attempt to understand human ecology in Guinea-Bissau, specifically how millennials (in this case defined as students enrolled in university in Guinea-Bissau, ages 18-38) perceive their environment. We spent a majority of our time moving between universities and meeting with students, faculty, and administration. Apart from collecting data, much of our summer abroad consisted of meeting with government officials, government and non-government organizations, and groups involved in environmental projects and conservation efforts around the country. We also spent time traveling to different regions in order to observe the differences between the different environmental zones and to see as many historically and culturally significant sites as we could in order to learn more about the history of the country, particularly its ecology and its peoples. The primary data collection techniques, which were employed, included keeping field notes from direct and participant observations, group community mapping exercises, Likert-scale surveys, content analysis of student artwork, and semi-structured interviews. In addition to students, administration, and faculty, participants of the study also included environmentally focused civil society organization managers, government officials, international and domestic
businesspersons, and community members.

Me numbering and labeling surveys at Catholic University
All of us with Ambassador Mushingi and one of his colleagues

On a typical day, we would be up and eat breakfast at our hotel, which usually consisted of bread and Nescafé. We almost always left by 9:30 am if not earlier depending on the events of the day. We would take a taxi from our hotel to Tchicote most of the time, the country’s teachers’ training college. If not Tchicote we were likely going to either go to University Lusófona or the University Amilcar Cabral. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (if we had no other meetings scheduled), we had Kriol lessons (a Portuguese-based Creole language spoken as the lingua franca in Guinea-Bissau) with Sana and Falarim (two recently graduated English teachers) for about two hours. Once we got to the schools, we would set our stuff down in a room where we could work. We then would recruit students by walking around the campus and asking students to “ajuda par pesquisa” or “help with research” in what was for me especially, broken Portuguese. Kamran was by far the most helpful when it came to addressing whole classes or groups of people because he was the most fluent. Sami was by far the most outgoing, she was the best at rounding up students, and from there Kamran and I could break down the general instructions. Recruited students, faculty, and administration would generally follow us to the room where they could sit down and if they had questions, Dr. Lundy was in the room, or they would just fill out the surveys in the hallways or classrooms, wherever we could find space. We would often have lunch at the university if we could. Tchicote had a cantina/cafeteria where a woman who also had a restaurant across from the school also ran the kitchen. After a solid day of collecting data at the universities, if time was permitting, we would explore and walk around the small city center or we would keep ourselves busy with meetings, museums, and card games. We pretty much always had dinner close to the hotel; we would walk to find a restaurant and back. Before bed we all did some journaling and reading before getting to bed to start it all over again in the morning.

Me with some kids at Dr. Lundy’s friend Tchoca’s house
Sami, Kamran, and me at the IFAN Museum in Dakar, Senegal

We learned a lot about the history of Guinea-Bissau as well as its environment from our trip. On one day a biology professor that we first met at Tchicote drove us around and he showed us different “humid zones” (wetlands and flood zones) within Bissau and spoke a lot about ongoing pollution and other environmental concerns affecting the capital city of Bissau. One of the things that surprised me the most from the trip was just how passionate people are about protecting their environment and diversifying agriculture. When we were at Tchicote for the 2nd National Convention for the English Language Teachers Association, I spoke to a classroom of students and teachers who talked about their concerns for their natural environment. We also learned a lot about the importance of biodiversity and conservation when we went to IBAP, which stands for Instituto da Biodiversidade e das Áreas Protegidas (Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas). We learned that it takes about four to five years to establish a protected area and they take into consideration the people who live in those areas, imposing regulations that align with traditions as best as they can. They actively promote ecotourism in the protected areas, which also serve as national parks.

Overall my experience in Guinea-Bissau was amazing. We were lucky to have so many opportunities to speak with environmental and social organizations and government officials like Tulinabo S. Mushingi the U.S. ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. It was really cool to learn so much about another country’s culture and to be welcomed into it. As much as we loved learning from students in Guinea-Bissau it really felt like they enjoyed learning form us too.

Sami, Kamran, and me in front of IBAP
All of us with Raul Fernandes, our host, and Justino Biai the director of IBAP