Faculty Directory

  • Birch, Jennifer

    Jennifer Birch

    Assistant Professor

    Office: Baldwin Hall 105 J
    Phone: (706) 542-1959

    Research projects:

    Dr. Jennifer Birch is an archaeologist who specializes in the Archaeology of Eastern North America. Conceptually, her interests are underpinned by the desire to understand how the lived experiences of individuals and communities articulate with long-term, large-scale processes of social and cultural change.

    Her current research is concerned with the development of organizational complexity and diversity in eastern North America. Ongoing projects in northeastern North America include geophysical investigations of Late Precontact Iroquoian villages and regional synthesis of data on Iroquoian settlement patterns, interregional interaction, and geopolitical realignment. Ongoing projects in southeastern North America include multi-scalar investigations of the Late Woodland to Mississippian transition in the Deep South and household and community archaeology at the Singer-Moye site.

  • Brosius, J. Peter

    J. Peter Brosius


    Office: Baldwin Hall 264 B
    Phone: (706) 542-1463
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: CICR
    Phone: (706) 425-3318

    Research projects:

    My research links anthropology and conservation. I have a long-standing interest in the human ecology of Southeast Asia, particularly with respect to issues of environmental degradation.

  • Garrison, Ervan

    Ervan Garrison


    Department Head

    Office: Baldwin Hall 265A
    Phone: (706) 542-1470; (706) 542-1097
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: Barrow Hall 14

    Research projects:

    My work involves prehistoric enquiry using the tools of geophysics and geochemistry to locate and characterize the subsurface remains of human habitation. UGA has led in this area using digital radar, magnetics, GIS, stable isotopes in portable and laboratory settings to characterize archaeological finds. A particular area of specialty is European prehistory. In addition, I perform and teach underwater archeology.

  • German, Laura

    Laura German

    Associate Professor

    Office: Baldwin Hall 255
    Phone: (706) 542-5852
    Fax: (706) 542-3998

    Research projects:

    The primary focus of my current research involves understanding how the recent surge in large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries has shaped social and environmental outcomes and customary land and resource tenure, and the formal and informal institutional factors mediating these outcomes. I am also working in northern Kenya to explore the dynamics of self-governance of pastoralist group ranches in the context of limited livelihood options and a growing presence of conservation interests and actors. Together with a group of graduate students, I have recently begun collaborating with the Athens Land Trust to explore how to enhance equitable access to USDA-NRCS conservation easement programs. I am also working to publish the results of collaborative work to support government policy-makers and non-governmental organizations in Mozambique to better defend customary land and resource tenure and pursue rural investment models which generate durable shared value for local communities. All of my recent work reflects a broader interest in natural resource governance, and how formal and informal institutions at multiple levels shape patterns of marginalization and opportunity.

  • Gragson, Ted

    Ted Gragson


    IdEx Chair, Université de Toulouse

    Director, Sustainable Human Ecosystems Laboratory

    Office: Baldwin Hall 254
    Phone: (706) 542-1460
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: Baldwin Hall 105 J-K

    Research projects:

    I am the Lead Principal Investigator of the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research Project based in Southern Appalachia and part of the US LTER Network. Southern Appalachian forests are highly productive ecosystems that are globally rich in biodiversity, yet vulnerable to the effects of global warming and human activities. Our research challenge is to understand key processes at a range of scales, and to identify interventions to advance management objectives while mitigating and adapting to the forces of change.

    I also conduct research in the western Pyrenees of France on the co-evolution of agropastoralism and soils over the course of the Holocene. This research is carried out in the ethnically Basque commune of Larrau, where we are examining the structural legacies and biotic factors in soil evolution across millennia using multi-proxy evidence from geoarchives, archaeology, history and ethnography. We use a place-based approach to evaluate modal human behaviors and decision-making within a complex adaptive system to reveal how the present is connected to the past and how contemporary land systems can contribute to a sustainable future.

  • Joseph, Christina

    Christina Joseph

    Part-time Assistant Professor

    Office: Baldwin Hall 105 I
    Fax: (706) 542-3998

    Research projects:

    My current interdisciplinary research focuses on the groundwater conservation and management in Pushkar, India. I am working with colleagues in geohydrology and engineering to examine the implementation of IWRM (Integrated Water Resources Management) there.


  • Kowalewski, Stephen

    Stephen Kowalewski


    Office: Baldwin Hall 257
    Phone: (706) 542-1462
    Fax: (706) 542-3998

    Research projects:

    I am interested in anthropology at all scales, but my own work begins with regions. My theoretical inspiration comes from economics and demography, or political economy. I continue to do archaeological survey in Oaxaca, Mexico, and I am also interested in the North American Southeast and Southwest.

  • Nazarea, Virginia

    Virginia Nazarea


    Director, Ethnoecology and Biodiversity Lab

    Office: Baldwin Hall 105 B
    Phone: (706) 542-3852
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: Baldwin Hall 105 A

    Research projects:

    I am interested in the interface between the way people see the elements and interrelationships in their environment with the way they decide and act in that environment. Further, I am concerned with the way the lenses people carry around in their heads are structured by the messages they received over time as they were growing up (and continue to receive when they are grown-up!) as members of a particular class, gender, and ethnicity. This concern has led me to explore a variety of different problems such as the distribution of local knowledge and the patterning of agricultural decision making of different categories of farmers, the relationship between marginality of production systems and the persistence of cultural memory that supports conservation of biodiversity, and the connection between mental maps and resource management practices of different groups of actors in a watershed.

  • Nelson, Donald

    Don Nelson

    Associate Professor

    Office: Baldwin Hall G23
    Phone: (706) 542-1452
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: Baldwin Hall G20

    Research projects:

    Current projects include:

    The Relative Importance of Generic vs. Specific Capacity in Addressing Drought Vulnerability in NE Brazil. 2011 – 2014 National Science Foundation

    This project leverages a unique research design, covering two severe drought events 14 years apart, to ask fundamental questions about climate vulnerability, adaptation, disaster risk and adaptive capacity. Ceará, Brazil is a state in which two million people reside in rural areas and earn a living off the land. Debilitating droughts are a regular occurrence in this semi-arid region and one of our research objectives is to understand how vulnerability to drought at the household level has changed through time as a function of government-led interventions in specific and generic adaptive capacities. Specific capacities refer to those that associated specifically with climate risk reduction (e.g. early warning systems. Irrigation schemes, crop insurance). Generic capacities are associated with fundamental human development goals (health, education, wealth). We also explore the ways in which the two types of capacities relate to each other, both in terms of their relative importance in defining overall adaptive capacity and in terms of how they may create synergies or be mutually conditioning.

    Participação Comunitária e Gestão Municipal na Cidade de Fortaleza. (Community Participation and City Management in Fortaleza). 2013 – 2015 Ceará Foundation for Scientific Development and Technology (FUNCAP)

    This project takes place in the metropolitan region of Fortaleza, Ceará. More than three million people live in the city, many of them in the urban periphery, a space that is characterized by a lack of public investment and integration and in the words of the residents “abandoned” by the political system. The work, based on a participatory methodology which includes participatory GIS, is an exploration of ways in which participatory engagements weaken traditional bonds of power among the very poor and provide alternative channels of access to the public services for which residents are eligible because of their status as citizen and not because they have a powerful patron. We work in partnership with several universities from the city, but the research team is comprised of people (with ages ranging from high school students to grandparents) that are from the neighborhoods in which the project is active. Together we are organically developing methods for engagement and articulation with the public sector.


    Human and Natural Forcings of Critical Zone Dynamics and Evolution at the Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory (CZO). 2014 – 2019 National Science Foundation


    The term critical zone refers to Earth’s outer skin and includes air, soil, rock, water, and organisms. In contrast to many critical zone (CZ) studies, the Calhoun CZO includes humans in its conceptual framework. The Calhoun is an Experimental Forest Station set in the Sumter National Forest in South Carolina. The interdisciplinary research, led by Duke University, is designed to improve the understanding of the dynamics and evolution of biota, landforms, soils, saprolites, and sediments that comprise Critical Zones (CZ) of the Southern Piedmont of North America. I work in partnership with an environmental historian to develop insights into the reciprocal relationships between humans and CZ processes in historical and contemporary times. My research is directed towards a) understanding how natural and human-induced changes in the CZ interact with human livelihoods, adaptation, and governance; and b) the implications of these insights for resource management. While much of the CZO is focused on the experimental station, our research also expands into the wider region.

  • Pilaar Birch, Suzanne

    Suzanne Pilaar Birch

    Assistant Professor

    Office: Baldwin Hall G31
    Phone: 706-542-4171
    Fax: 706-542-3998

    Research projects:

    I recently joined the University of Georgia as an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the departments of Anthropology and Geography (http://geography.uga.edu/directory/profile/birch-suzanne/).

    My academic research is focused on human adaptation and resilience to climate change and natural resource unpredictability in prehistory, and how our understanding of past human response to environmental change informs current thinking about these issues.

    I combine archaeology and biogeochemistry to investigate changes in diet, mobility, and settlement systems in the period spanning the end of the last ice age to the arrival of farming.

    My other research interests include the initial domestication of livestock, diffusion of domesticates across Eurasia, the transition from hunting to herding, seasonality and human mobility, multispecies archaeology, and advancing methodologies in zooarchaeology and stable isotope analysis.

    I am an active advocate of open access publishing and online data and research sharing. I co-founded and moderate the blog TrowelBlazers (www.trowelblazers.com), which highlights women in the fields of archaeology, paleontology, and geology. I am also an editor-in-chief of the open access journal for Quaternary science, Open Quaternary (www.openquaternary.com).

  • Quesada, Sergio

    Sergio Quesada

    Sr. Academic Professional

    Undergraduate Coordinator

    Office: Baldwin Hall 253B
    Phone: (706) 542-6714
    Fax: (706) 542-3998

    Research projects:

    I am currently researching the implications of migration to Georgia and the Southeastern United States of a community of peasants from the State of Querétaro, Mexico. In the last decade, these peasants were forced to relocate when the construction of a major World Bank-funded hydroelectric project, a product of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), destroyed their communities in the early 1990's. I am exploring the impact of the loss of their main source of work, their land, and the subsequent loss of their cultural identity and how this impacts their environment, their economic well-being, their health status and their cultural traditions.

  • Reitsema, Laurie

    Laurie Reitsema

    Assistant Professor

    Director, Bioarchaeology and Biochemistry Laboratory

    Office: Baldwin Hall 151B
    Phone: 706-542-1458
    Fax: 706-542-3998

    Research projects:

    I study human diet as a link between biology, culture and environment, focusing on stable isotope analysis of archaeological populations. I am working primarily with European and southeastern North American skeletal materials. I also conduct research on diet and stress among modern humans and non-human primates. The Bioarchaeology and Biochemistry Laboratory is equipped to facilitate a wide variety of sample preparation for isotopic analyses. Some current projects are described below.


    Migration and Greek Colonization: With collaborators at the University of Northern Colorado, Università del Salento, Soprintendenza Palermo, I am examining the role of migration in the context of ancient Greek colonization through strontium and stable oxygen isotope analysis. These techniques can identify “locals” from “non-locals” in the colony cemeteries, toward better characterizing the extent of migration, and who was migrating (men, women, children?). The isotopic analyses are intended to be used in tandem with bioarchaeological estimations of stress and health at both colonies and mother-cities, estimations of cultural affiliation through mortuary analysis, and with ancient DNA evidence for ancestry. This project is ongoing from 2013-2017, and includes a summer NSF REU Site opportunity for undergraduate students (http://research.franklin.uga.edu/reu/).

    Physiology and Human Health

    The Bioarchaeology and Biochemistry laboratory is equipped to work with a variety of biological materials. A particular area of interest, in addition to diet and mobility in the past, is the application of stable isotope analyses to modern human populations to understand physiology, stress and disease. One study currently underway examines the extent and duration of nutritional stress with pregnancy using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in hair, including bulk protein as well as individual amino acids. Students interested in this line of research should contact Dr. Reitsema for the 2014-2015 academic year.

    Primate Weaning and Dietary Ecology

    Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis can reveal diet and weaning among living non-human primates. Current collaborative research includes the weaning transition of wild capuchin and gelada monkeys. Ultimately, long-term effects of early versus late weaning can be explored, along with trade-offs in female reproductive strategies.

  • Reitz, Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Reitz


    Office: Georgia Museum of Natural History 10
    Phone: (706) 542-1464
    Lab: Georgia Museum of Natural History 1 and 6

    Research projects:

    I am a zooarchaeologist who focuses on Latin American and southeastern archaeology with an emphasis on ecological and ecological archaeology. As the head of the zooarchaeology lab and as a consultant, I work with collections management.

  • Tanner, Susan

    Susan Tanner

    Associate Professor

    Director, Laboratory of Health and Human Biology

    Office: Baldwin Hall 266
    Phone: (706) 542-3085
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: Baldwin Hall G39

    Research projects:

    I study how human health and disease are shaped by the environment, biology, and culture. As a biological and medical anthropologist, my work has focused on human adaptation, understanding how people avoid disease in stressful environments, and the effects of environmental and sociocultural change on health and nutrition. While much of my work has examined on how individual and household conditions may redistribute infectious disease burdens, I am also beginning research on and childhood growth, diet, and nutrition.

    Current research projects:

    Nutrition, health, and life history: My long-term collaborative research in Bolivia investigates the health and nutritional consequences of markets and other ecological, social, and economic changes in the Amazon. I have focused on understanding how rapid cultural and economic changes are associated with common infectious disease, child growth patterns, and nutrition among an indigenous group, Tsimane’, living in lowland Bolivia. Specific questions have included how wealth and subsistence patterns are related to parasitism and how early life nutrition and growth patterns can shape downstream health and disease. Ongoing research continues to investigate the consequences of increased reliance of purchased foods on nutrition and disease patterns.

    Zoonotic diseases and deforestation: Deforestation may be driven by economic, social, and political motivations, but land use change also provides the context for interactions between humans, plants, insects, and animals in the environment. In collaboration with colleagues from the University of Georgia, the CDC, and the GORGAS Institute in Panama, this project focuses on how social and economic factors put people and animals at risk for Chagas disease, American Leishmaniasis, and other understudied infectious diseases with a larger goal of considering the links between social and environmental systems that lead to human disease.

    Migration and nutrition in the United States: When people move between countries, they often experiences changes in health and nutrition. This new research project draws on a life history perspective to consider how early life environment may be linked to downstream health and examines how shifts in food, social support, nutrition, and medicine in the U.S. are related to mother-child health among women who have moved to the U.S. Specific research questions include how parents cope with illness and perceive the growth and health of their children.

    For additional information about research and students, please visit the Biological Anthropology Lab Complex website.

  • Thompson, Victor

    Victor Thompson

    Associate Professor

    Director, Center for Archaeological Sciences

    Office: Baldwin Hall 265B
    Phone: 706-542-1480
    Fax: 706-542-3998

    Research projects:

    My work utilizes historical and political ecology frameworks and focuses on the Georgia coast and the central and southwestern Gulf Coast of Florida. This research seeks to understand the long-term dynamics between humans and their environments in the context of ritual, monumentality, and political complexity. Specifically, I hope to further our understanding of anthropogenic impacts to ecosystems, resilience in socio-ecological systems, and insight into the emergence of village life and the building of monuments. Such research provides important insight into changing patterns of human mobility and resource exploitation, as they relate to sea level change and differences in the biophysical environment. Finally, my work in Georgia and Florida explores evidence for the varying economic and social contexts (e.g., the absence of agriculture) in which early village life and monumental architecture emerges for the first time among Native American societies in the eastern United States.

    I employ a number of methods in my research including the analysis of monumental architecture, shell midden archaeology, stable isotopes, remote sensing, and Geographic Information Systems. I regularly make substantive contributions in these areas, such as the use of geophysics in reconstructing Native American shell mound architecture. Finally, I frequently draw upon these specialties in my collaboration with colleagues in anthropology, as well as other disciplines, such as in my work with researchers in marine science and biology as part of my work with the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research project. My research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.


    Center for Archaeological Sciences http://archsciences.uga.edu/content/home

    Ossabaw Island Archaeology Project http://victordomini0.wix.com/coastal-georgia-arch#!research/c10fk

    Academia.edu https://uga.academia.edu/VictorThompson

  • Tucker, Bram

    Bram Tucker

    Associate Professor

    Lab: Behavioral Ecology and Economic Decisions Laboratory

    Office: Baldwin Hall 258
    Phone: (706) 542-1483
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: Baldwin Hall 259

    Research projects:

    My research addresses human decision-making and behavior in an ecological and evolutionary context, with specific focus on subsistence in rural populations. My students and I are concerned with two stages of analysis. The first is how individuals make decisions, including processes of perception, evaluation, emotion, and social learning, as explored through experimental economic methods. The second stage is the behavioral outcomes of decisions, including food production and household livelihood strategies, as explored through ethnographic methods.

  • Velásquez Runk, Julie

    Julie Velásquez Runk

    Associate Professor

    Office: Baldwin Hall 256
    Phone: (706) 543-0617
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: Baldwin Hall 252B
    Fax: (706) 542-3998

    Research projects:

    My research uses integrative (or interdisciplinary) approaches to how people use and manage their landscapes, how that relates to science, conservation, indigenous knowledge, and policy, and how people cope with variability and change. I ground this work in political ecology, science and technology studies, and collaboration. My investigations contribute to three key areas of understanding for human – environment relations and cultural anthropology: 1) how to conserve and govern environments in culturally sensitive ways; 2) how indigenous populations maintain their identity and advocate for their rights in spite of tremendous change; 3) and how to make science more collaborative, via processes that build theory and incorporate multiple voices. My research is formed by studies in ecology and anthropology, as well as work as a conservation practitioner with international non-governmental organizations in Washington, DC and governments and local non-governmental organizations in Latin America. I am an advocate for the use of multiple methods--from participatory ethnography to vegetation assessments to multi-scalar mapping--for the richness of data and depth they provide to research questions. My longer-term research has been in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama, with mestizo, Black, and indigenous communities. I also have worked in Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, and Brazil.

    Currently I am working on a few research projects. First, I am coordinating a collaborative project with Wounaan leaders, Wounaan language experts, and anthropologists and linguists to linguistically describe the Wounaan language based on a corpus of sixty years of audio recordings of Wounaan oral traditions (including those I recorded in the early 2000s). The project, known in Spanish as Proyecto Tradición Oral Wounaan, is archiving the recordings, transcribing and translating the stories, developing a Wounaan meu grammar and Wounaan meu - Spanish dictionary, and developing curricular materials from the stories in coordination with Panama's National Directorate for Bilingual Intercultural Education. Second, I also am working on a manuscript about the history of Emberá and Wounaan collective lands struggle, and its relationship to forest governance via REDD+. Third, I have begun to write anout the process of collaborative research and how it relates to scholarship. Fourth, I am working with Wounaan language and cultural experts on a draft manuscript on Wounaan ethnohistory. And finally, I have an on-going, long-term project on silversmithing traditions in eastern Panama and northwestern Colombia. I am particularly interested in how those traditions help mediate inter-ethnic relationships among black silversmiths, indigenous silversmiths, and indigenous clients, as well as how they relate to notions of intellectual property.

  • Williams, Mark

    Mark Williams

    Sr. Academic Professional

    Director, Georgia Archaeological Site Files

    Director, Laboratory of Archaeology

    Office: Baldwin Hall 151 C
    Phone: (706) 542-1619
    Fax: (706) 542-3998
    Lab: Riverbend Road 110
    Phone: (706) 542-8737
    Fax: (706) 542-8920

    Research projects:

    I have conducted archaeological research for some 20+ years now in the Oconee River valley of north and central Georgia, almost exclusively on sites of the late prehistoric Mississippian period. This little valley in Athens' backyard has an incredibly rich human story to be told and exhibits one of the densest human occupations in a pre-state temperate region in the world. This story is perhaps most significant with respect to the growth and eventual decline of the native chiefdom societies in this region. From about 1100 A.D. until 1600 A.D. a series of mound centers--chiefly towns were established, flourished, and eventually died out. The complex story of these centers, and the thousands of associated farmsteads, has occupied almost all of my research time during these years. These centers include the Dyar, Scull Shoals, Shoulderbone, Little River, Shinholser, and Sawyer sites.

    While the broad outlines of the Mississippian cultures in the Oconee Valley and their history have now become somewhat clearer, I have recently begun a more intense study of one of these sites in particular, Little River. This site is located in Morgan County, Georgia, and is apparently a tiny chiefly compound. These on-going excavations are important for helping us understand the workings of such a compound, both specifically in the Oconee Valley, and to the understanding of chiefdoms in the world beyond. My goal is to continue these excavations, actively involving University of Georgia Anthropology students, for several more years at least. This work is constantly being done in direct cooperation with my colleagues here in the Department, especially Ervan Garrison. He and his students, along with my own, have conducted fascinating and important remote-sensing studies at Little River, which will continue into the future.