Read Rebecca's anthropologically awesome adventures!See reading materials and other websites that makes Rebecca tick!Search through Rebecca's anthropologically awesome adventures!Meet Rebecca and follow her lead!

One down…

Friday: October 25, 2013

(Results for selected topic.)

I have contacted several local schools (less than 45 minute drive) and unfortunately no one is hiring an anthropology adjunct at this time, though they have added me to their files for future reference. Some conversations were discouraging – for instance, only having a single anthropology class, so of course that is filled every semester; only having online classes (can you imagine taking cultural or archaeology online, without any hands-on components? How utterly boring! I would have certainly been turned off from anthropology!); not having offered an anthropology class in years…But other conversations were great. One university said they would hire me immediately but just didn’t have the funding for it, and the others seemed excited but couldn’t hire me for the same reason.

I have thus just expanded my search to include schools within an hour and a half drive. I do not like this concept as it means I may get a job on the north side of Chicago – not a bad place, but the fact I would be driving *through* the city to get there is not a selling point. So far, I have just contacted my two favorite universities. We will see if they bite, and if not, there are still plenty within that distance to contact.

My alma mater did get back to me, however, and though they do not have an opening in the spring, I have been given a class each summer session. The department is going through a lot of changes (a new chair, a possible retirement, posting for a full time professor, and so on) so I am not sure what lies ahead, but this is a start. I am a little nervous teaching over the summer, having barely any teaching experience as is, because the classes are longer and the weeks are shorter, but I am still very excited! I am somewhat bummed that I probably will be unable to go to Georgia, though, but perhaps they will schedule that so I could pop in for the week between semesters.

The class I will teach is Human Origins and Prehistory (almost identical to the Monkeys, Apes, and Humans class I taught this spring). When I took it, there was no lab component, but I believe that is important – it really makes science accessible to students who do not realize they can do science. And, of course, it makes learning about the species and objects so much more interesting being able to lay your hands on them. I will need to get into the lab and see how it has grown since my time there.

On a side note, I am probably going to be able to attend BARFAA, in Ohio, this November. It will be a cool experience, to attend without the stress of presenting!!

See other entries with similar topics:

AAPA 2013 Poster

Sunday: January 6, 2013

(Results for selected topic.)

Part of the grad school experience is attending and presenting at conferences. In the past, I have presented at both the Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology Association (BARFAA) and the Indiana Academy of Science (IAS), but last year I did not get to attend the American Association of Physical Anthropology (AAPA) (I held down the fort in the Monkeys, Apes, and Humans class instead). This year, I submitted an abstract for a poster presentation (literally a giant poster), coauthored with my advisor, a former student, and two colleagues from other universities.

Due to some miscommunication, the abstract was submitted prior to my colleagues finding a glaring error that, while not changing the data, was important enough to seek correction. Once submitted, the AAPA policy is no further editing, so I was not sure what could be done and truth be told, as my blog intends to portray, this was a very stressful event for me. I will leave it at that else I raise my anxiety again.

Long stressful story short, the poster was accepted. Not for a couple of days more was it made known to me that the edit would also be granted due to the special circumstances (thank you so very much!).

I am not sure of everyone’s stance on the AAPA – which is the same organization that produces the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (AJPA), but I consider both (as one and the same) in high regard. Not in the way that I am special for getting a poster accepted (it is likely a fairly straightforward process), but in the way that this is where all the knowledge of bioanthropology collides. Students like me will be in attendance alongside professionals with huge names.

I will now be traveling to Tennessee in April, with the daunting task of answering questions about my topic during the presentation schedule, and hopefully meeting my colleagues to explain everything in person.

See other entries with similar topics:

Class Notes: Human Osteology

Tuesday: November 1, 2011

(Results for selected topic.)

Week 8: Skeletal Project

Tuesday:

Fall break, woot!

Thursday:

We discussed morphometrics, which is the relationship between measurements and shape. We also covered the biological profile of age and sex. Age shows a growth threshold, involving both intrinsic developmental factors and extrinsic degeneration factors. Developmental aging includes tooth formation, epiphyseal fusion, bone length, and suture closures. Degenerative aging includes joint morphology, auricular surface appearance, and pubic symphysis break down.

Friday:

Osteometrics lab and more inventorying. I finished the little one and began an adult with some interesting pathology but my focus was asked to be shifted back to the BARFAA group now that my assignment had been finished (the adult would have been just as extra).

 

See other entries with similar topics:

Class Notes: Human Osteology

Tuesday: November 1, 2011

(Results for selected topic.)

Week 6: Hands and Feet

Tuesday:

Since we had already covered this week’s topic, we moved ahead to receive our assigned skeleton. We discussed the procedure for inventory and the different paperwork that is used by the lab. As I had mentioned, I requested a juvenile to push my limits and the baby was very tiny. I was able to correct classification the archeologists had made, and find one of the tiniest human bones: an ear ossicle (the malleus to be precise).

Thursday:

I do not recall exactly, but due to my lack of notes for this day I imagine we had lab time during class to work on our skeletal inventories.

Friday:

My cohort and I worked on our BARFAA presentation during class time with Dr. S while the undergrads had lab with Laura. We put the final touches on a keynote presentation and walked through it a few times before practicing in front of the class. I had this annoying habit of saying “Upper” Woodland (instead of “Late” Woodland) because my undergrad focus was mostly human evolution and therefore “Upper” Paleolithic and such. This might seem a small detail, but I assure you it is not a mistake I would want to make in front of an anthropologically educated audience!

Cute shoes

Grad school feet in grad school grass.

This was a rough week for me, having BARFAA coming up and the other graduate duties and classwork. I won’t lie, I was pretty stressed and have basically been behind in coursework since. I think the experience was great so no regrets there, but trying to balance it with school work and a weekend husband was not the easiest thing at the beginning of my first semester after a 2.5 year break. Lucky for me, my grades do not reflect the hardship. I hope that stays true for the rest of the semester!

See other entries with similar topics:

Class Notes: Human Osteology

Tuesday: November 1, 2011

(Results for selected topic.)

Week 5: Shoulder and Arms

Tuesday:

The shoulder girdle connects the forelimbs (appendicular skeleton) to the thorax (axial skeleton). It is a very shallow ball and socket joint, allowing for great flexibility. The forelimb design is a common tetrapod design. The proximal half contains a single bone, while the distal end is made of two bones, terminating in the hand, which contains carpals, metacarpals, and free moving phalanges.

The shoulder girdle:

  • Scapula
  • Clavicle

The forelimb:

  • Humerus
  • Ulna
  • Radius
  • Carpals
    • Trapezium
    • Scaphoid
    • Lunate
    • Pisiform
    • Triquetral
    • Hamate
    • Capitate
    • Trapezoid
  • Metacarpals 1-5
  • Manual Phalanges
    • Proximal
    • Intermediate
    • Distal

We learned the various features of each bone and how to side them. Interestingly, I have spent a lot of time on the small bones of the hand which now I find easy, but I am having trouble with the larger bones of the arm. I wonder if this is normal. Remember, we do not get tested over full bones. Fragments are what is found in the archaeological record so fragments I must know.

Thursday:

We jumped ahead to the pelvis and lower limb. The pelvis is a paired group of three bones: the illium (what you feel as your “hip bone”), the ischium (what you sit on), and the pubis (which can be felt in the nether regions). These two sets of bones fuse early on to become two oddly shaped bones, sometimes referred to as the ox coxae or the innominate. The leg is in the same model as the arm: a single bone in the proximal half, two bones in the lower half, terminating into tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges. My favorite bone pops in at the knee: the patella.

The lower limb:

  • Femur
  • Patella
  • Tibia
  • Fibula

Friday:

  • Tarsals
    • Calcaneous
    • Talus
    • Navicular
    • Cuboid
    • 1st Cuneiform
    • 2nd Cuneiform
    • 3rd Cuneiform
  • Pedal Phalanges
    • Proximal
    • Intermediate
    • Distal

Just like the upper bones, I am pretty confident in the small bits, but the long bones trick me often. I am decent at identifying which bone it is, but siding is still a struggle. I missed the practical lab section here because I was working with my cohort on a presentation for BARFAA coming up on the 8th of October. This is part of my problem with long bones I think, but I should make up for it this week with extra study time.

See other entries with similar topics:

School Bits

Friday: October 14, 2011

(Results for selected topic.)

Although I have several segments of class notes to type up, I thought I would make a short post about other things happening in grad school.

Over the weekend, my cohort and I presented our findings at BARFAA (see the abstract located here). UIndy was given the responsibility of profiling (at least) three individuals accidentally discovered in Tippecanoe County. Originally, I was to present my own research on teeth from Isreal using the WLCP, but instead we all felt it would benefit the project if I changed course and added dental texture analysis to the accidental discovery. We put together a keynote presentation and though quite nervous, I felt we did well. I was surprised to find that I was able to master my voice and talk slowly during my segment. We had some questions afterward, and I was able to meet several people in the field. Boy came with me so we could make it a mini-vacation, and the next day we attended the workshop for Transition Analysis, by Dr. Wilson of IUPUI. It is a software developed for use by anthropologists. My take is that it is similar to Fordisc, only targeting age rather than ancestry. It allows you to input several measurements and use a range of measurements. Then it will calculate the confidence level and show you a graph which outlines the individual methods and the correlated age from them. I look forward to using the program in my studies.

Since I made a plug for it, I shall make a plug for another anthropologically awesome program. Anthropomotron is designed for estimates of sex, stature, body mass, skeletal population estimates, and various skeletal indices. I am also interested to see how this works out for me.

Aside from BARFAA, I have been working on my Human Osteology skeletal project. I requested a juvenile since I had worked with mostly adults in Peru, and received a tiny baby. It is sad to think he or she passed away so early and the heartache that must have caused the family. Perhaps that thought is ethnocentric, I do not know, but I feel honored to take the little one in my care. From my research this far, I am almost certain the baby did not reach full term. The teeny tininess has proven a learning experience for me – not just because the bones are not at their mature form, but also because they are literally so small, it is simply hard to examine them. I have also learned first hand about the difficulties archaeologists face when excavating children (this site is a CRM recovery, of course). The archaeologists did very well bagging different bones and labeling the bags, but they did not always correctly identify something. A turtle shell was mistaken for a cranial fragment, and some fragments of ribs were misplaced in the fibula and vert bags. The pubes were both placed in the vert bag as well. This avenue is something I would like to explore more – archaeologists do not always get proper osteological training, and even then sometimes children are not discussed in depth. This is for several reasons of course (and will be explained in a later post), but the need is there. Considering the importance of reburial, the most respectful thing would be to collect the whole individual, you know? Tooth buds, epiphyses, and all.

Another cool thing that happened (and then didn’t) is that the DNR called to see if we could excavate a skeleton discovered in someone’s backyard. To have the excavation experience ourselves would have been wonderful but unfortunately it coincided with BARFAA so we could not get there as early as the police requested and they were able to hire someone else. Maybe next time.

Undergrads (friends and strangers alike!) may surprise you with free food since their tuition includes a meal plan that they do not always use. I’ve had this happen twice and it is quite awesome. The anthro undergrads are pretty cool, especially. For instance, today we discussed the anthropology behind zombies. Does it get any more real than that?

See other entries with similar topics:

Research Associate

Saturday: September 10, 2011

(Results for selected topic.)

I have not truly begun my duties as an RA yet but I have been shown the ropes and began practicing. The process can be simplified as thus:

Researchers from around the globe take molds of molars in their samples and send them to us. I have been given a site from Isreal to work with first, since I am expected to present at the Biological and Forensic Anthropology Association (BARFAA) in October. The first step is to clean the molds with alcohol because sometimes the dirt from a tooth is left in them.

Then, I mix up resin and hardener to cast the teeth. The cast works better to reflect the light from the white light confocal profiler (WLCP) than real teeth, and it standardizes all the teeth samples for comparisons. Not to mention, it also prevents us from having the full responsibility of samples in house and opens up a lot more sites to be studied (some of which may be reburied right away can still have the teeth examined through the casts).

I carefully adjust the tooth on a tray so that Phase II is level. Phase II can be thought of as the part on top of your molar that can be felt with your tongue and hikes up to your cheek (of course, it is much more specific than that). Phase II is useful for dental microwear because it is where food hits the tooth during chewing. Microwear, by the way, refers to the scratches and pits that you (yes you!) have on your teeth that can only be seen via a microscope. Different diets will show different patterns of wear. In older populations, some of the teeth are completely worn down and are flat across the top, even exposing the dentin inside. Although this does not bode well for my particular kind of study, it is a fascinating thing to witness. Teeth were used as major tools back then, but also food processing did little to soften food as we have now. In fact, sometimes stoney grit was added to food as a consequence for grinding it with stone tools. In fact further, some populations today still wear their teeth down!

Next, I use the microscope to find a representational place on Phase II and then use the software that came with the WLCP to profile the texture of the tooth. The light shines down and bounces back to the lens and this is calculated so that it can be represented through computer output, rendered in several ways. First, it shows as a gradient of elevation. I then show it as a true image which can give the appearance of an Scanning Electron Microscope image (SEM). This is important because our technology is new and therefore we need to make sure that our results are comparable to SEM results for a control factor, but also because SEM images are what everyone is already familiar with.

Here, I will inspect the image for evidence of dirt. At this point, it will be microscopic dirt, and likely part of the cast so instead of removing it in real life which is likely impossible, I can edit the images so the program understands that it should not be included in the calculations.

Amidst all the linear scratches or circular pitting, you may wonder how I can identify dirt, but the trick is that dirt generally looks like tiny little balls, unlike anything else on the tooth surface so really it is not that difficult to determine. I use the program to erase little spots and then tell it to finish with the calculations.

There is more after this step, but at this point, I am just focusing on finding Phase II (it is not that easy for a newb like me since I am still learning simply how to identify which tooth is which) I also poke around learning the program (and earned the title Rebecca the Grey which quickly transformed into Rebecca the White and even sometimes all the way elevated to Gandolf since I happen to have magic computer powers). I should start on the real thing in the coming week and my next post about it hopefully will include some sort of visual reference for you.

See other entries with similar topics:
World Map World Map
australopithechic.anthroclub.com: copyright 2011 and beyond