Anthropology Students Present Research, Win Recognition at UURAF

Anthropology undergraduates presented their excellent research in the form of poster presentations at the 2017 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF). The UURAF is a university-wide event focused on highlighting unique and creative research endeavors of undergraduates across disciplines. Students at UURAF are mentored by faculty, and have the opportunity to present a poster or paper (oral presentation). Thirteen MSU students mentored by Anthropology faculty participated, covering topics such as the Racialization of Arab Americans Post 9/11 (Breanna Escamilla, mentored by Najib Hourani), Visualizations using GIS of the Campus Archaeology Excavations (Jasmine Smith, mentored by Lynne Goldstein), and Microbotanical Analysis of the Cloudman Site (Rebecca Albert, mentored by William Lovis).

We are delighted to congratulate Funmi Odumosu for winning first place in the Poster Competition for her category. Her poster is titled “Race, Risk and Responsibility in a Diabetes Clinic” and she was mentored by Dr. Linda Hunt.

 

More titles and abstracts are below:
CREATING A DATABASE USING 3D PHOTOGRAMMETRY TO DIGITALLY RECONSTRUCT HUMAN MANDIBLES Peter Mercier Time: 8:30 AM Mentor(s): Gabriel Wrobel (Anthropology)

This paper details a project that seeks to construct a digital database of accurate, high-quality 3D models of human mandibles of the Maya people of Central Belize. The database will be made in MSU’s Bioarchaeology Lab using 3D Photogrammetry on a program called Agisoft Photoscan. This repository will give anthropologists the opportunity to collect metric and nonmetric data that can be used to carry out numerous kinds of analyses pertaining to skeletal morphology. Using computer models will combat major issues facing bioanthropological research. These issues include accuracy, reproducibility, longevity, and accessibility. In this paper, I will explain how to make models on Agisoft Photoscan, discuss the types of data that can be derived from these models and analyses, and talk about the vast implications digital bioarchaeology will have on research, education, and community engagement. The future of anthropology is a digital one. Using computers to create a digital archive will eliminate human measuring errors, make accessing remains convenient, and create a permanent record where remains will not be subject to degradation.

 

HOW CONCEPTIONS OF GENETICS IMPACT PATIENT CHOICE FOR BARIATRIC SURGERY Salman Pervez Time: 9:15 AM Mentor(s): Heather Howard (Anthropology), Linda Hunt (Anthropology)

As genetics emerges at the forefront of medical thinking, the idea that one’s genetic make-up pre-ordains health outcomes has become increasingly popular in understandings of disease susceptibility and treatment response. The conviction that genetics are at the core of disease development and management has opened the door for promoting certain procedures as a ‘‘quick fix’’ for chronic conditions such as diabetes. For instance, bariatric surgery, a procedure that dramatically reduces the size of the stomach, is marketed as the best solution for alleviating diabetes in patients with a body mass index above 35. While marketing may be effective in drawing people to such radical procedures, how the general public understands and thinks about their own genetic susceptibility and choices for disease management is not well understood. Interviews with patients from a large hospital-based weight management clinic show conflations made between genetics, family history, race, and culture, which may affect their choice to pursue bariatric surgery. In my presentation, I will analyze interviews with diabetic patients who have been offered bariatric surgery to control their diabetes, to understand their conceptions of genetics. By understanding the way people think about genetics, we can question why bariatric surgery is becoming an increasingly common treatment for diabetes patients.

 

TESTING SEED LONGEVITY VIA MSU CAMPUS ARCHAEOLOGY: APPLYING BEAL’S METHODS TO HISTORIC RASPBERRY SEEDS Rebecca Albert Time: 9:30 AM Mentor(s): Lynne Goldstein (Anthropology)

In the summer of 2015, the MSU Campus Archaeology Program excavated a historic outhouse or privy located on MSU’s North campus. Diagnostic artifacts deposited within the privy, as well as the structure’s close proximity to Saints Rest, MSU’s first dormitory, dated the outhouse to the 1850s-1860s. Artifacts discovered within the outhouse’s night-soil include dishes, cups, oil lamp shades, two dolls, clothing related items, animal bones, and raspberry seeds. The experiment presented here tests the viability of the raspberry seeds by attempting to germinate the seeds in a controlled environment. This test is similar to Dr. William Beal’s seed longevity experiment, the longest running botanical experiment in the world! Dr. Beal’s experiment provided the inspiration to test if the raspberry seeds recovered from the outhouse might sprout when following the Dr. Beal’s protocols. Phase 1 involved placing 24 seeds on wet paper towel, inside a sealed Ziploc bag in a warm, dry place. None of the seeds germinated. For Phase 2, 50 seeds were placed in an Arabidopsis soil mixture and stored in a controlled growth chamber. The soil mixture was watered every 2-3 days for 6 weeks. No germination of the seeds was observed. In Phase 3, 50 seeds were placed in a sandy-soil mixture and stored in a controlled growth chamber. The soil mixture was watered every 2-3 days for 6 weeks. Phase 3 is ongoing. If successful, this experiment could shed more light on the possible longevity of uncarbonized archaeological seeds.
A MICROBOTANICAL ANALYSIS OF THE CLOUDMAN SITE Rebecca Albert Poster: 44 Mentor(s): William Lovis (Anthropology)

UURAF 17 BeccaThe goal of this study is to determine the plant diet of the populations occupying the Cloudman site over 2000 years until European entry into the Great Lakes, as well as analyzing how plant diet changed over time at this site. The Cloudman site on Michigan’s Drummond Island provides an excellent opportunity to explore this problem because of the large range of time during which the site was occupied. Ceramic rim sherds from the Middle Woodland, Late Woodland, and Protohistoric periods contained large amounts of carbonized food residue. Samples of the carbonized residue are currently being chemically processed and analyzed using optical microscopy for diagnostic plant phytoliths and starches. Preliminary results of this analysis have determined that maize (corn, Zea mays sp. mays) starches and wild rice (Z. palustris) phytoliths were present in the residues adhered to several Laurel Middle Woodland ceramics potentially as old as 2000+ years.

 

COMPARISON OF SEX RATIOS OF MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC AND CHRISTIAN CEMETERY POPULATIONS AT THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF CAESAREA MARITIMA, ISRAEL Alyssa Gray Poster: 45 Mentor(s): Gabriel Wrobel (Anthropology)

Burials from the archaeological site of Caesarea Maritima, located in Israel, represent two groups that used the site during the Medieval Period: Christians and Islamic Bedouins. The Christian settlers lived in permanent agricultural communities, while Bedouins are nomadic and visited the site sporadically. This study sought to determine whether differences in the culture of the two groups found at Caesarea had an effect on who was buried there. I focused specifically on sex, using standard morphological features of skulls and pelves to determine the sex of the Caesarea individuals, who are currently curated in the MSU Bioarchaeology Laboratory. Using the skull, I looked at the skeletal features of the nuchal crest, mental eminence, supraorbital ridge, supraorbital margin, and mastoid process. When looking at the pelvis, the features to be considered were the greater sciatic notch, subpubic concavity, ventral arc, and medial aspect of the ischiopubic ramus. Based on archaeological indicators of burial treatment, individuals were placed into one of the following categories: Islamic, Christian or Unknown. For each group, I will present the relative frequencies of males, females, and unknown individuals. Discussion will focus on possible interpretations of the differences in the sex ratios found between groups.

 

RESTORING INDIVIDUALITY FROM ANCIENT BONES: A BIOLOGICAL PROFILE FROM THE CAESAREA MARITIMA Jade Greear Poster: 46 Mentor(s): Gabriel Wrobel (Anthropology)

This case study of a skeleton from the ancient port city of Caesarea Maritima in Israel presents a biological profile of the individual based on analyses that include estimations of sex, age, ancestry, and pathological findings such as disease or injury. Biological profiles play an increasingly important role in a plethora of disciplines including anthropology, biology, forensics, and archaeology, allowing researchers to reconstruct aspects of individuals’ life histories. Excavations at Caesarea Maritima show that a large field south of the Crusader fortress was the main location for burials throughout the Islamic and Crusader occupation of the site. Although the specific lot from which this individual came is unknown, this project combines biological and cultural data to restore an identity to this person and provide deeper context to the entire archaeological site and society from which it came.

 

RACE, RISK AND RESPONSIBILITY IN A DIABETES CLINIC Funmi Odumosu Poster: 47 Mentor(s): Linda Hunt (Anthropology)

It is a common assumption, both within and outside of medicine, that genetic characteristics of certain racial and ethnic groups increase their susceptibility to certain diseases. Although many studies have shown that genetics cannot be used to identify race or ethnicity, racial-ethnic identity is commonly used as a proxy for determining individual risk for diseases thought to have a strong genetic basis, such as diabetes. Drawing on ethnographic interviews and participant observation conducted with patients and clinicians at a diabetes and weight management clinic, we will explore how the idea of genetic susceptibility is applied to and understood by members of diverse racial-ethnic groups. We analyze how clinicians discuss and use race in identifying individuals at risk for diabetes, and how patients discuss their risk and responsibility for managing diabetes. In this paper, we will discuss how racial and ethnic identity may be used by clinicians to determine individual susceptibility to diabetes, and how those concepts may in turn affect the patient’s perception of responsibility in managing their disease. We will consider whether such racially based diagnosis could impact the overall health and wellness of these patients and patients like them.

 

ONE PERSON’S TRASH IS ANOTHER PERSON’S TREASURE: EXPLORING REFUSE DISPOSAL AT MORTON VILLAGE Sarah Jane Potter Poster: 48 Mentor(s): Jodie O’Gorman (Anthropology)

The purpose of this research is to explore if burning of faunal remains can help clarify the depositional episodes of Structure 26 and the behaviors associated with them. Structure 26 was a burnt domestic structure near the center of the occupied area of Morton Village, an archaeological site located in central Illinois that was occupied during A.D. 13001400. After burning, the structure was abandoned and the resulting basin was filled in some way. Using standard zooarchaeological methods and procedures, identifiable bones and bone fragments were separated into unburned and burned categories, with burned bones defined as being more than 50% burned. Bones were also separated into mammal, fish, bird, turtle, and general vertebrata categories in order to see if different types of animals were present between excavation levels. This research will help to generate more knowledge about household behavior, trash disposal, and formational processes at Morton Village.

 

INVESTIGATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SKELETAL MICROSTRUCTURE AND DISEASE IN A DOCUMENTED ANATOMY SAMPLE Jake Quarles Poster: 49 Mentor(s): Amy Michael (Anthropology)

Bone is a dynamic tissue, and its structure varies as a result of many factors, including metabolic and hormonal changes, activity-related stress, sex, age, and disease. In forensic contexts, many studies have focused on related bone variations observed macroscopically, but have largely ignored microstructural variability. This study focuses specifically on the effects of diseases on bone from a histological perspective, observing femur sections from 11 individuals who were all suffering from disease at their time of death, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Renal failure/Renal disease, Leukemia or Lymphoma, and Cancer. These diseases all affect the metabolism of an individual which would then affect bone maintenance. Microscopic features of the pathological bone, including osteon shape and count, will be compared to that of normal individuals. Changes in osteons due to disease can obstruct the traditional methods of using bone microstructure to age an unknown individual by potentially altering the osteon count and shape in unknown ways. It is important to note the effect of disease on the osteons so that when using a histological method of aging, it can be taken into account to suggest a more accurate age of the individual.

 

SEEING IN BLACK AND WHITE: THE USE OF BIOLOGICAL RACE IN PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY Erik Rose Poster: 50 Mentor(s): Joseph Hefner (Anthropology)

Although mainstream anthropological theory posits race as a social construct grafted over variation in geographic ancestry, certain scholars in physical anthropology argue that viewing race as a biological concept is still a valid way of analyzing human diversity. Strains of research in physical anthropology dating back to the early 20th century claim that humans can be divided typologically into distinct races, each with their own unique set of traits. However, these ideal racial types do not always correspond to the reality of individual ancestry and ignore the variation within racial groups. Using cluster analysis of skeletal remains of individuals with records of self-reported race, we will demonstrate that the ideal racial types offered by supporters of race as a biological concept lack efficacy in describing human variation.

 

PREVALENCE OF DENTAL MODIFICATION AMONG ANCIENT MAYA GROUPS IN CENTRAL BELIZE Lauren Rosenberg Poster: 51 Mentor(s): Gabriel Wrobel (Anthropology)

Dental filing is a form of intentional cultural modification popular among the ancient Maya where teeth are shaped into different patterns. Modifications represent a social distinction such as ethnicity, or membership within a corporate group. Previous studies concluded that the modifications likely did not reflect social status, but there is debate about the meaning of variations in prevalence and form found between different groups. This study focused on the dental modifications in central Belize to identify the presence of distinct social groups. Modified teeth from a variety of mortuary contexts (rockshelters, caves, and surface sites) were classified using a popular typology developed by Javier Romero, and relatively frequencies were compared to see if the prevalence and specific modification type varied based upon burial location. Discussion of the results will include possible meanings of the differential patterns of prevalence of the modifications based upon knowledge of previous archaeological investigations of the area.

 

VISUALIZING MSU’S CAMPUS ARCHAEOLOGY EXCAVATIONS WITH GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS Jasmine Smith Poster: 52 Mentor(s): Lynne Goldstein (Anthropology)

MSU’s Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) works to learn from MSU’s past by examining the archaeological record prior to development or changes in the landscape. Because of this mandate, CAP has excavated sites all over campus, finding artifacts that date to different times throughout the university’s history, as well as finding prehistoric Native American artifacts that predate the campus. CAP has divided MSU’s history into 4 time phases: Phase 1(1855-1870) – Beginnings, Phase 2 (1870-1900) – Foundation, Phase 3 (1900-1925) – Expansion, and Phase 4 (1925-1955) – Legacy. During the fall 2016 semester, I used a geographic information system (GIS) to visualize where on campus we have found artifacts from each of these four time phases. CAP uses a GIS to keep track of our excavations by plotting point data and polygons on an aerial image of campus. Point data represent shovel test pits we have completed and polygons represent excavation trenches. This poster looks specifically at the distribution of artifacts found on campus from each of the aforementioned time phases, and tries to draw some conclusions about campus development and change.

 

RACIALIZATION OF ARAB AMERICANS POST 9/11 Breanna Escamilla Time: 12:30 PM Mentor(s): Najib Hourani (Anthropology)

This presentation examines race relations and larger structures of power that shape the experiences of marginalized communities—–specifically Arab Americans. Foundational to the infrastructure of American society is the Black and White binary framework that places groups into categories effectively shaping the social landscape of lives across racial and ethnic groups. This dichotomous framework is one that tethers identity to others producing groupings subject to change as the social landscape continuously shifts; therefore, it is imperative that we are cognizant of how race and ethnicity are contingent upon social tensions. For people of color who are not necessarily considered socially white, but classified as legally white navigating spaces in a society that does not allow for in between existences leads to issues of placement on the racial hierarchy of America. Specifically, for Arab-Americans who have no option other than White on the U.S Census their classification is often contradictory to their lived experiences. Identity then becomes a function of variables such as phenotype, culture, religion, and language. For people of Middle Eastern descent living in contemporary America it is arguable that their identities are more than ethnically classifying, but rather I will argue that the reactionary treatment of Arab Americans post 9/11 has cemented Arab-Americans as a racial category as evident by racialized violence, discriminatory practices that tether Arab Americans to stereotyped images, and through the voices of racially conscious Arab Americans.

04.18.17