Your TA the Biking Texan

My name is Nikki Silva and I’ll be your ANP 204 Teaching Assistant this summer. I just completed my Master’s degree at MSU in Anthropology at the end of the Spring semester and am now in the PhD program (3rd year in the program). I graduated from Baylor University with my Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Minor in Forensic Science in 2012. Baylor University is located in Waco, Texas about 2 hours south of downtown Dallas, which leads me to my next point. I am a Texan, I moved to Michigan to pursue my MA and PhD. It is very different living in the North vs. the South and I am adapting. I do love it here in Michigan and am so glad I made the choice to come to MSU. In my spare time, I bicycle. I just got into biking this past year and really enjoy it. I try to bike to campus as much as possible. It is tough to find spare time with work and taking classes, but I try to make time to bike.

my bike during a ride in Illinois

In the Anthropology program at MSU, I am focused in the subdiscipline of Archaeology. I am further interested in mortuary analyses, meaning studying the mortuary practices of past populations. Specifically I am interested in analyzing how the mortuary practices of migrant groups of people change when they move to a new area, as well as how the mortuary practices of local groups change after interactions with these migrant populations. I am very early in the PhD program and as I move forward, I will further fine-tune my topic. Last summer and the past 6 weeks of this summer I worked in Central Illinois on the Morton Village Archaeological Project with co-directors Dr. Jodie O’Gorman (MSU Department of Anthropology Chair and Associate Professor) and Dr. Michael Conner (Associate Curator of Anthropology at Dickson Mounds Museum). This is a joint project between MSU and the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown, IL. Morton Village dates to around AD 1300 with an associated cemetery site, Norris Farms 36 that was completely excavated in the 1980s. I am interested in analyzing this cemetery in my dissertation research. There is evidence that two cultures, the Oneota and Mississippians interacted at Morton Village. The project is analyzing the nature of that relationship; you can read more about the research at Morton Village at

screening during the summer 2013 excavations at Morton Village

Feel free to post a comment on this intro post if you have any questions. Throughout the semester, you can post on the weekly schedule page with questions as well. I’m looking forward to a great semester!


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Colleen Drabek says:

    Right! Texas ehh?! That’s awesome! I’m headed there in 2 days! We are going to Houston for the 4th. We wanted to find a rodeo but no such luck! Hopefully us Michiganders can adjust to the heat down there!

    • Nikki Silva says:

      Colleen you’ll have fun in TX. Unfortunately all the rodeos happen earlier in the summer. It’s pretty hot, but the nice part about TX is that air conditioning is in every single building! Have tons of fun in Houston!

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