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My Lab Research Team


            At UNF, our best undergraduates are often as capable and talented as the best graduate students anywhere.  I have endeavored to identify these students and provide them with a transformational educational experience that will make them competitive for graduate work in a variety of fields.  In my eight and a half years at UNF, I have overseen twenty Directed Independent Studies (DIS) or Honors Thesis Hours courses.  Six of these were for projects funded by Undergraduate Research / Student Mentored Academic Research Team (SMART) Grants or Dean’s TLO Fellowships.  Eight of these students have gone on to graduate school.    I currently am the faculty mentor for three undergraduate honors thesis projects. 
            In order to “institutionalize” such opportunities, I have established a laboratory research team (similar to those found in the other STEM fields), and I meet weekly with my team to review their progress and advise them.  I am committed to mentoring these students and they are well-respected within UNF and in the discipline.  For example, one of my students was recently invited by the director of the Center for Bioarchaeological Research at Arizona State University to complete her chemical analysis of human bone samples in the laboratories there.  This same student won the best Anthropology student presentation at our Department research symposium.  Three other students of mine won an award at the UNF Student Symposium for their poster.  Finally, one of my lab team students has successfully navigated the Institutional Review Board process (twice, both an original and a revised and expanded research protocol) in furtherance of his honors thesis research.

Below are introductions to some of the Team:

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Tim Dacey
   My area of interest in anthropology is largely conceptual. That is, I am interested in the nature and goals of anthropology. For example, is anthropology a science dedicated to providing nomothetic explanations for humans? Or is it more of a humanities where science keeps its distance? That said, I take a significant interest in human evolution, particularly in human cognition. I am pursuing a research project, which is investigating undergraduates' opinions on the relationship between science, particularly evolutionary theory, and religious epistemology. I have dispersed surveys that question students' religious affiliation (if any), political affiliation, social views, and views on the nature of science, evolutionary theory, Intelligent Design, and creationism. At its conclusion, my research will provide insights for the causes of one's rejection or acceptance of evolution. Besides Anthropology, I take a significant interest in the philosophy of biology, namely in the levels of selection and in evolutionary epistemology, which is where I hope to pursue graduate work. Lastly, I take a general interest in Austrian Economics, as well as, reading literature, and watching mobster films.

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Genevieve Day
   Genevieve is majoring in Anthropology with a minor in History and is particularly interested in Historical Archaeology.  She is currently working on a research project to determine the significance of text direction on headstones in a local historic cemetery.  As part of that project she is working with other students to create a map of the cemetery and a database of information on each grave.

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Rissia Di'Alma Garcia
   A student of Anthropology, Rissia is currently working on a historic cemetery in northeast Florida. There she is investigating childrens graves and what they can tell us about the local community.  She hopes to expand the project to other cemeteries in the US.  Rissia's other interests include mummies, art history, photography, bodyart and modification, and the Minoan culture.

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Karen Lowery
   I am currently mapping the Middleburg Methodist Church with two other students and will researching into family gravestone patterns.
   My key areas of interest are archaeology and bioarchaeology, and while I am still narrowing down region of interest, I am leaning towards the Southwest United States. I plan on going to graduate school after getting my Bachelor’s degree. 

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Alecia Schrenk
   My research involves a cross cultural analysis of ethnographic and archaeological record to examine relationships between juvenile mortuary practices and infant mortality rates among different cultures. In my initial research I discovered distinctive mortuary practice using effigies in two cultures with high infant mortality rates. The Chinchorro and Yoruba cultures share high infant mortality rates and use of effigies in their juvenile mortuary practices (Arriaza 2005; Byrne 2010; Leroy 1993).
   Arriaza (2005) comments that the Chinchorro are not trying to recreate an individual child, rather they are making an idealized child through mummification. Likewise, among the Yoruba, the only criteria for an Ere ibeji is that it is handheld and resemble a child. In each case an individual child is not as important as the effigy of a child. In my research I expect to find more cases of effigies being used in juvenile mortuary practices in cultures where high infant mortality rates are involved. Likewise, I would expect to find less effigy use in cultures with low infant mortality rates.

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Shaza Wester Davis
   Shaza Wester Davis is a senior, graduating in the Spring 2012. Her research focuses are mortuary practices and rituals, primarily in the prehistoric Southwestern US. She participated in the Summer 2010 UNF archaeology field school and followed up with a directed independent study with Amber Bond looking at the possible village located under Old Town Fernandina on Amelia Island. Their research was presented at the Spring 2011 UNF Sociology and Anthropology Symposium as well as at the Florida Anthropological Society Symposium in May 2011. As a member of the Anthropology Lab team, Shaza has been involved in GPR surveys of the Middleburg Methodist Cemetery and will participate in a joint project with the UNF Engineering Department using GPR to find the structure of a 19th century Spanish fort on Amelia Island. Shaza’s honors thesis is based on the burials located in the Chaco Canyon pueblos that date to approximately 900-1200 AD. Shaza is also presenting her research on unusual burials from the Salmon Ruin at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in April 2012.