Welcome to the 2017 Graduate Cohort!

The Anthropology Department at Emory welcomes four new graduate students to the program this Fall. They come from diverse educational backgrounds and have exciting research that they will pursue in the coming years.

Composite 2017 photo

Bridget Hansen earned bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Classical Studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Her research focuses on how cultural beliefs and practices of mental illness and health interact with the neoliberalism of Euro-American systems of biomedicine and psychology in the Arabian Gulf countries. She has conducted research in Oman and other Gulf countries with a Fulbright Fellowship and has been awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation for her work at Emory. She was recently featured in Emory News as an entering graduate student with exciting research and great accomplishments.

AJ Jones earned the Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Princeton University. Her research interests include the topics of illness, disability, medicine, gender, and the body. Prior to coming to Emory, she researched the subjectivity and narratives of girls and women with Turner Syndrome, a genetic condition in which females are born with a partially or entirely missing X chromosome, rendering them infertile, among other physical effects. She hopes to continue and build upon this line of research at Emory.

Jordan Martin earned bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Psychology at Miami University. His research focuses on the proximate and ultimate bases of social behavior and relationships in human and non-human primates, particularly with the evolution and biological underpinnings of social personality traits, the evolutionary consequences of cooperative breeding, and the determinants and functional significance of affiliative and and attachment bonds. Prior to arriving at Emory, he spent a year conducting research in Vienna, and he is a Woodruff Scholar in the Laney Graduate School.

Erik Ringen earned the Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Washington State University. He is interested in comparative and quantitative approaches to understanding human behavior and health from an evolutionary perspective. While at Emory, he will focus on ingestive behavior and the natural history of human interactions with plant secondary compounds in food, medicine, and drug use. Prior to coming to Emory, he worked as a researcher with the Human Relations Area Files project at Yale University.

Kendra Sirak develops less invasive sampling procedure for DNA analysis


Ancient DNA analysis can reveal insight into past populations on many levels. Unfortunately, accessing the osseous labyrinth inside the petrous bone, which has the highest concentration of endogenous DNA of any skeletal element, creates a problem for analysis: It requires intact skeletal remains.

PhD candidate Kendra Sirak has developed a new technique to access the osseous labyrinth without the damage done by established techniques. She details the process in her paper published in BioTechniques and has taught the technique to experts in ten different countries, which has allowed them to perform the procedure independently.



Congratulations to this year’s award winners and honor students!

Congratulations to this years award winners and honor students!

Anthropology Undergraduate Awards

Outstanding Junior: Deandre Miles

Outstanding Senior: Virginia Spinks

Marjorie Shostak Prize for Excellence and Humanity in Ethnographic Writing: Cameron Barker

Anthropology Graduate Awards:

George Armelagos Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student: Whitney Easton and Daniel Thompson

Anthopology Honor Students

Cameron Barker

Yen Doan

Michelle Kagei

Katherine Nerses

Virginia Spinks

Bisan Salhi, MD, recognized on Doctors’ Day

Dr. Bisan Salhi is one of Emory’s medical faculty recognized on Doctors’ day. After reviewing 160 Emory physicians nominated by their peers, the recognition committee honored six outstanding faculty of the Emory School of Medicine.

Dr. Salhi is an emergency room physician at Grady Memorial Hospital, faculty in the Emory School of Medicine department of Emergency Medicine, and a PhD candidate in the Anthropology department. She researches homelessness, vulnerable populations, and emergency medicine.

Bioarcheologist Clara Alfsdotter is visiting the Anthropology Department at Emory for research



Clara Alfsdotter is a PhD student at Linneaus University in Sweden and an archeologist at the Bohusläns County Museum in Uddevalla.

She is working on the excavation site of Sandby Borg, a ring fort on the Baltic island of Öland in Sweden. Excavation is still in the early stages, but fascinating puzzles are already emerging. It seems that the inhabitants were brutally killed while many valuables such as gold, roman artifacts, and animals were left behind and were not looted afterwards.

“It’s intriguing that no females have been found yet,” says Alfsdotter. This absence ties into the questions of how and why this happened and makes the experts wonder what happened since. On top of these mysteries this site is also an exceptional and rare record of the Migration period life inside a ring fort – since the fort was abandoned after the assault, everything has just been left to decay inside the houses and on the streets after that day. Extraordinary details of the everyday life are found. For example, next to one house hearth, the skeletal remains of half a herring was discovered. Was someone brutally interrupted when preparing the food that day 1500 years ago?

Alfsdotter’s focus for this trip is research on learning and developing methodologies and theories for tracing the original position of the human bodies and why they came to rest in the way they did. What was the original position of the corpse and why? Can the acts of the perpetrators and victims be traced? Alfsdotter is at Emory University visiting Dr. Liv Nilsson Stutz, who has a long history of archaeothanatological research into how skeletal remains have been affected by taphonomic processes and mortuary circumstances.

Aerial View by Sebastian Jakobsson