News

CHES Alum Dr. Sarah Hlubik begins Postdoc

Hlubik news storyCHES Alum Sarah Hlubik has just begun a postdoc at the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology at George Washington University. Sarah obtained her PhD in Anthropology in 2018 for her dissertation "Finding Prometheus: Evidence for fire in the Early Pleistocene at FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya." For her postdoc, she will be working Dr. Dave Braun on the faculty at GW (who is also a CHES Alum, 2006!) to further develop her research on fire from a site-based to a landscape-based perspective. One aspect of this research will allow Sarah to better estimate when fire use became widespread in the hominins inhabiting the Turkana Basin of northwestern Kenya. Congrats on the postdoc, Sarah.

CHES Grad Affiliate Tim Bransford passes Dissertation Defense

Bransford news storyCHES Graduate Affiliate Tim Bransford (center in photo) passed his doctoral dissertation this afternoon. Tim's dissertation, "The Energetic and Nutritional Costs of Motherhood in Wild Bornean Orangutans" is based on his research in Borneo for almost two years as well as a database of long-term data collected by many researchers at the Tuanan Research Center over the last 15 years. Tim analyzed an impressive array of diverse data sets, ranging from the behavior and activities of lactating female orangutans, to patterns of fruit production in the peat swamp forest, to nutritional aspects of foods eaten, to physiological states (such as the hormone cortisol, C-peptide of insulin, and ketones, all extracted from urine samples). By comparing how females with infants of different age and in different periods of food productivity, Tim's work sheds much light the challenges of motherhood and the adaptive strategies that allow females to handle them. The members of Tim's dissertation committee were, from left to right: Ryne Palombit, Maria van Noordwijk (outside member, University of Zürich), Erin Vogel (Chair), Rob Scott and, not shown, Melissa Emery-Thompson (outside member, University of New Mexico). Congratulations, Tim!

CHES alum Jay Reti New Appointment

Reti JayCHES PhD Alumnus Jay Reti (2013) was just named as the new Director of the Santa Cruz Island Reserve of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Santa Cruz Island is the largest island off the coast of California (about four times larger than Manhattan Island) with many endemic species of plans and animals. Jay will oversee all research on the island and develop conservation and education programs. His work on the island goes back to his High School days in California, but now, as an archaeologist, he sees many lines of research there that indulge his interests in lithic analysis and the development of statistical methods for assessing human reliance on technology. For example, he's studying how raw materials were transported and traded to determine economic patterns and relationships between different populations of Chumash Native Americans on the island.

Congratulations to Sara and Tanner!

Magee PosterTwo CHES Undergraduate Affiliates recently won awards for their Senior Honors Thesis research. The Department of Anthropology held its annual symposium showcasing undergraduate research for Senior Honors Theses today. Several of the students were CHES Undergraduate Affiliates. One of them, Sara Magee was IMG 7352awarded first prize for the poster presentation of her Honors Thesis research, “The Effects of Chewing Time on Gonial Morphology in the Mammalian Mandible.” The research was supervised by CHES faculty Dr. Susan Cachel, with CHES Associate Member Dr. Hylke de Jong as second committee reader (CHES Graduate Affiliate Fred Foster and CHES Alumnus Shauhin Alavi were also co-authors on Sara’s poster). Tanner Yuhas won the 2019 Robert Locandro Award for the Outstanding Student in Natural Resources, in part for his research, "Understanding Dietary Divergence in Wild Bornean Orangutans: The Role of Kinship," which was supervised by CHES faculty Dr. Erin Vogel, with CHES Faculty Ryne Palombit as second reader.

Congratulations Sara and Tanner!

Yotam Asscher lecture

Asscher LectureThe final talk in the CHES Lecture Series for this academic year was today by archaeologist Yotam Asscher of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Dr. Asscher discussed the challenges of rescue excavations in Israel. He described in fascinating detail how mobile laboratories and portable instruments working in places like Caesarea provide crucial information fast, which is invaluable for the success of these rescue efforts and thereby contributing significantly to our understanding of the history of region.

Anthropologist Brian Wood lecture

IMG 3250Anthropologist Brian Wood (University of California, Los Angeles) spoke today on sex differences in space use and spatial cognition among the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. Dr. Wood has been studying the Hadza for well over a decade, during which he has amassed a large array of data, some of which he shared today. Among the Hadza, both men and women contribute to the group's daily food intake: women collect approximately 4-6 kg of food each today, primarily in the form of underground tubers, whereas men focus on hunting ungulates, the carcasses of which are brought back to settlements. Dr. Wood also conducted a series of experiments carefully designed in light of cultural practices of the Wood a few families moving between camps copyHadza, the results of which suggest that men score significantly better on navigation and mental rotation tests. Dr. Wood interprets these experimental results in light of the different foraging strategies of men and women, which tend to produce much longer and much more circuitous travel paths for men, as revealed by individual GPS units worn by individuals each day. Men also spend significantly more of their foraging time alone, compared to women who are in small groups throughout the gathering period. A lively discussion followed the fascinating lecture.

CHES Featured Research Evening: Fred Foster

IMG 3231Last night's "Featured Research" Evening highlighted the research CHES Graduate Affiliate Fred Foster is doing on the microstructure and mechanical behavior of primate tooth enamel. Fred is applying methods from material science engineering to look inside the teeth of extant primates and link fine details of dental structure to functional (adaptive) properties that help teeth resist failure or damage when chewing challenging foods. The research will shed much light on dietary ecology in primates, but ultimately Fred will carry the insights he gains to the hominin fossil record, where he will address and resolve questions about the evolution of teeth and diets of extinct hominins.

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