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Professor Emeritus

Research Interests

Health and Nutrition, Agricultural Origins and Consequences, Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States, South America


Bioarchaeology, Human Osteology, Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology

Research Background

My research interests include the prehistory of the eastern United States and Andean South America, the origins and health consequences of social and economic transitions (agriculture, state, European contact), and skeletal biology as a means of interpreting the nutritional and health status of past populations.

I approach health as a process that is influenced by biology, behavior, ecology, and environment. The dynamic interplay of those variables acts to create dynamic disease environments that have shifted through time and space, and are continuing to shift. Although I focus on past populations in my research, I am very interested in contemporary global health issues. Some of my research projects regarding nutrition and health are discussed below.

I began working with populations that inhabited the southeastern United States in 1983, principally with protohistoric populations that lived during the first 100 years of contact with Europeans who came to explore and colonize the Atlantic coast. I worked on St. Catherines Island at the Spanish mission site of Santa Catalina de Guale, Georgia, with the American Museum of Natural History, the subject of my M.A. thesis (1987, Northern Illinois University), and at Tatham Mound, an early contact mortuary locality in central peninsular Florida with the Florida Museum of Natural History, the subject of my Ph.D. dissertation (1991, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana).

I turned my attention toward several issues of coastal adaptation in 1995, when I began to reconsider some of the coastal populations of Georgia and Florida that I had previously examined. As a relatively new professor at East Carolina University, I constructed a series of questions I wanted to ask about coastal foragers and their transition to agriculture, the nutritional and health consequences of the agricultural transition, and the nutritional and health conditions of coastal foragers who had not yet made the transition to agriculture. With funding from the National Science Foundation, I conducted that study between 1997 and 1999, and it was recently published (Foraging, Farming, and Coastal Biocultural Adaptation in Late Prehistoric North Carolina, University Press of Florida, 2002).

I am also very interested in the origins of the state in the Lake Titicaca region in South American Andean populations. I have been working for several years with formative period remains from the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca on a multidisciplinary study headed by Karen Chavez (recently deceased) and Sergio Chavez of Central Michigan University.

Finally, in my role as a forensic anthropologist I have served as a consultant on several occasions to law enforcement officials. Those experiences have been supplemented by replication experiments designed to facilitate our knowledge of how bone responds to certain types of growth and/or damage. With my graduate and undergraduate students, I have investigated sharp metal weapon and blunt weapon trauma, as well as methods of age and sex estimation.


PhD, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, 1991; MA, Northern Illinois University; BA Alma College


Tatham Mound and the Bioarchaeology of European Contact: Disease and Depopulation in Central Gulf Coast Florida. University Press of Florida, 2006.
Bioarchaeology of the Florida Gulf Coast: Adaptation, Conflict, and Change. University Press of Florida, 2004
Foraging, Farming, and Coastal Biocultural Adaptation in Late Prehistoric North Carolina. University Press of Florida, 2002.
Pelvic Age Estimation Using Actual Specimens and Remote Images. Journal of Forensic Science 46:1224-1227, 2002 (with Katherine Russell).
Microscopic Characteristics of Hacking Trauma. Journal of Forensic Science 46:234-240, 2002 (with Bree K. Tucker, M.F.G. Gilliland, Thomas M. Charles, Hal J. Daniel, and Linda D. Wolfe).
Macroscopic Characteristics of Hacking Trauma. Journal of Forensic Science 46:228-233, 2002 (with Josh Humphrey).
Conquistadors, Excavators, or Rodents: What Damaged the King Site Skeletons? American Antiquity 65:355-363, 2000 (with George R. Milner, Clark Spencer Larsen, Matthew A. Williamson, and Dorothy A. Humpf).
Regional Variation in the Patterns of Maize Adoption and Use in Florida and Georgia. American Antiquity 63:397-416 (with Clark Spencer Larsen, Margaret J. Schoeninger, and Lynette Norr).
Two Cases of Facial Involvement in Probable Treponemal Infection from Late Prehistoric Coastal North Carolina. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 8:444-453 (with David S. Weaver).
Correlates of Contact: Epidemic Disease in Archaeological Context. Historical Archaeology 35:58-72 (Jeffrey M. Mitchem).
Physical Anthropology Laboratory Textbook, fifth edition. Contemporary Publishing, Raleigh, 1999 (with Linda D. Wolfe and Leslie Lieberman)
Stressed to the Max’: Physiological Perturbation in the Krapina Neandertals. Current Anthropology 38:904-914 (with Clark Spencer Larsen).
Treponematosis in Regional and Chronological Perspective from Central Gulf Coast Florida. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 92:249-261.