Monday, May 1, 2017

     This past week I traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to showcase research at the 86th Annual American Association of Physical Anthropology Conference. This conference focuses on sharing research by students and professionals concerning a range of topics in physical anthropology including, but not limited to, bioarchaeology (study of bones and biological material from the archaeological record), dental anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, and primatology. Physical anthropologists from all over the world come together to share their work with others in the field.
      I was joined by coworkers and mentors from the 2016 National Science Foundation (NSF) Research for Undergraduate Excellence (REU) Program: Immersive Research in the Bioarchaeology of Greek Colonization, Sicily, Italy. If there was one place for a team of bioarchaeologists to have a reunion, the AAPAs in New Orleans was it! This conference wrapped up research with this NSF - REU team until the new research team travels for another field season this Summer (2017). 

Me presenting during the AAPAs

Abdul Zahid (colleague) and Tessa Smith (colleague) presenting 

 Janelle Tyler (colleague) answering questions at her poster
      Many book companies sell the newest editions of textbooks. Other newly published works pertaining to physical anthropology were available to purchase. While book shopping I found the following books representing bioarchaeology in Florida! The first book is about the Windover Archaeological site in Titusville, Florida. The second is about the Old Vero Archaeological Dig Site in Vero Beach, Florida.

"Windover: Multidisciplinary Investigations of an Early Archaic Florida Cemetery" by Glen H. Doran
"An Ice Age Mystery: Unearthing the Secrets of the Old Vero Site" by Rody Johnson

       Participants listened to podium presentations and poster presentations throughout the conference. Podium presentations lasted approximately 20 minutes with presenters discussing their latest field/lab research.

     After the conference, many attendees, my colleagues and myself included, participated in the worldwide March for Science. At our location we marched from the Marriott where the AAPA conference was being held to the City Hall of New Orleans. Hundreds of people marched to support the continuation of scientific exploration in all scientific fields. Being a part of this march was an experience I will not forget. It was only one component of the ongoing support for the scientific community to keep growing and disseminating knowledge between scientific disciplines and to the public alike.
"Science Has No Agenda" Poster

"Science Matters No Bones About It" Poster

Fellow March for Science supporters and I

Some of my colleagues and others marching

The March for Science crowd grew quickly

     To wrap up, I would just like to say it was a true honor to work with my mentors Dr. Britney Kyle and Dr. Laurie Reitsema of the NSF - REU Summer bioarchaeology research team, as well as the graduate students Katherine Reinberger and April Dobbs. A continuous thank you goes to them for their hard work in making the research project possible and taking my colleagues and I under their wing to teach and learn with. Another thank you goes to all of the Italian collaborators that welcomed us onto their site with open arms to share their passion of learning from the dead. 

Text and pictures: Caitlin Sawyer

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