Solving Grand Challenges

Purdue Anthropology Research Focus Areas:

Applied Anthropology & Public Engagement

Ecological & Environmental Anthropology

Science & Technology

Health & Well-Being

Identity, Politics & Social Justice


Myrdene Anderson, Associate Professor

Dr. Anderson is best known for the research among Saami reindeer-breeders in Norwegian Lapland that commenced in 1971 and continues to date. She also pursues ethnography in a variety of settings, from community gardening to the transdisciplinary artificial life movement in biology.  Her publications include edited volumes on human-alloanimal ethology, on ethnicity and identity, on semiotic modeling, on the cultural construction of trash, on mathematics education, on violence, and on the Peircean concept of “habit”.

Sherylyn Briller, Associate Professor

Dr. Sherylyn  Briller is a cultural medical anthropologist specializing in aging, disability, end-of-life issues, and global health. She has conducted research in Mongolia and the United States. She is a Faculty Associate in the Center on Aging and the Life Course. Her professional interests also extend to anthropologists’ education, career development, and interdisciplinary collaboration. She has taken a leading role in developing the new Master’s track in Applied and Practicing Anthropology at Purdue.

Michele Buzon, Professor

Dr. Buzon is a bioarchaeologist whose research focuses on the excavation and analysis of burials in the ancient Nile Valley (Egypt and Nubia). Dr. Buzon has an active field site at Tombos, Sudan. Through the examination of human skeletal remains and mortuary practices, she examines the effects of Nubian-Egyptian contact on identity and health during the New Kingdom and Napatan periods.

H. Kory Cooper, Associate Professor

Dr. Cooper uses a Behavioral Archaeology framework to examine technological innovation and culture change past and present. One of his primary research foci has been the archaeometallurgical investigation of Pre-Contact copper innovation in the North American Arctic, Subarctic and Northwest Coast. Related to this topic, Cooper’s research also examines the Post-Contact adoption of trade metals and metallurgy in these culture areas. He is also currently participating in interdisciplinary research on the consumption and discard of electronics (e-waste). He has conducted fieldwork in Alaska, California, Jordan, and Sudan. Additional research interests include materials analysis, experimental archaeology, hunter-gatherers, the fur trade, historical metallurgy, public archaeology, and education.

Andrew Flachs, Assistant Professor

Dr. Flachs researches food and agriculture systems, exploring the spread of genetically modified crops, heirloom seeds and local ecologies, alternative agriculture, and small-scale food security including fermentation and seed-saving.  His work among farmers in North America, the Balkans, and South India investigates ecological knowledge and technological change in agricultural systems spanning Cleveland urban gardens, Bosnian kitchens, and Indian GM cotton fields.  At Purdue, he is a member of the Advanced Methodologies Cluster and teaches graduate courses on qualitative social science and environmental anthropology.

Ellen Gruenbaum, Professor 

Dr. Gruenbaum is a cultural medical anthropologist with research on female genital cutting in Sudan and Sierra Leone, focused on the process of change to this culturally and religiously embedded practice, including the role of feminist activism, witchcraft and secret societies, and the Islamist movement. She is also interested in other women's health issues in Africa and the Middle East, including sexuality and reproduction, HIV/ AIDS, and beauty pageants as a health education tool.

Jennifer Johnson, Assistant Professor

Dr. Johnson's research is historically rooted, ethnographically engaged, and focused at the confluence of gender, vernacular practice, and the politics of contemporary economic and environmental sustainability along African and North American littorals, or shorelines. By foregrounding African women’s work with diverse species and forms of fish – both indigenous and introduced – alongside the development of global markets for African fish products, Dr. Johnson’s current research retheorizes the intersection of gender, history, and sustainability in and around Africa’s largest body of water.

Ian Lindsay, Associate Professor

Dr. Lindsay has conducted research in northwestern Armenia since 2000 investigating the origins of political complexity, landscapes as media for political authority, and households and community formation in the Late Bronze Age. Analytical methods of interest include chemical characterization techniques to examine the flow of goods in and out of the Tsaghkahovit Plain, and he has recently initiated a geophysical survey of fortress settlements to gauge the intensity of occupation during the LBA.

Stacy Lindshield, Assistant Professor

Dr. Lindshield’s research investigates how and why foraging behavior reflects the sociopolitical strategies of female chimpanzees in savanna-woodland environments. Professor Lindshield has active research projects in Senegal at Mount Assirik in Niokolo-Koba National Park and Fongoli. Her current work addresses nutritional facets of hunting, meat eating, and meat sharing behaviors. In addition, Lindshield assesses the impact of gold mining on biological corridors and chimpanzee health in Senegal, and evaluates biological corridor networks for the conservation and management of Costa Rican primates.

Riall Nolan, Professor

Dr. Nolan’s interests include international development; cross-cultural learning and adjustment; and anthropological practice. Trained in Britain, Nolan worked first as a development practitioner in West and North Africa, South Asia, and the Pacific. Later, as a university administrator, he led international programs for several large US research universities. In his present capacity as a faculty member, Nolan’s teaching and writing centers on non-academic practice in anthropology, and how to improve training programs for our students in that regard.

Zoe Nyssa, Assistant Professor

Dr. Nyssa is a cultural/environmental anthropologist studying the relationships between knowledge practices, governance, and distributive questions of risk and justice. Using mixed method and multi-sited approaches, her current work tracks the emergence and contemporary practices of conservation science in order to evaluate their impact globally on human and non-human life. She has conducted research at leading conservation projects in the U.S., Europe, and Ecuador.

Erik Otárola-Castillo, Assistant Professor

Dr. Otárola-Castillo is an archaeologist, human evolutionary biologist, and biometrician. His research revolves around the question: “What do people eat and why?” To answer it, Dr. Otárola-Castillo studies the diversity, ecology, evolution, and co-evolution of behavioral phenotypes in prehistoric and modern foraging populations. Currently, Dr. Otárola-Castillo is interested in evaluating the effects that climatic change, the variation of food-availability and-distribution had on the diet of some of the first forager populations across the North American Great Plains.

As a biometrician and computational anthropologist, he develops quantitative tools to answer questions in the context of the major dimensions of archaeological research: space, time and form. To this end, Dr. Otárola-Castillo develops and implements optimal foraging models, 3D-morphometrics software, and statistical software for human evolutionary biologists and zooarchaeologists, spatio-temporal statistical models, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)."

Melissa Remis, Professor and Head

Dr. Remis’ research in the Central African Republic focuses on integrated biological, cultural and environmental anthropological approaches to human-animal relationships, nutrition and health among BaAka foragers, and conservation.  She is currently studying multispecies entanglements and interdependence in Congo Basin forests. She has also conducted research on the feeding ecology of western gorillas and designed experimental zoo-based research on the evolution of feeding strategies among African apes.

Amanda Veile, Assistant Professor

Dr. Veile is a biological anthropologist who studies human reproductive and developmental biology using an evolutionary perspective. Since 2000, she has worked as a scientist on indigenous health projects in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Mexico.  Her ongoing research projects include 1) Documentation of birthing practices, breastfeeding patterns, and mother-child interactions; 2) Studies of growth and immuno-nutritional development of indigenous infants and children; and 3) Monitoring community health profiles in geographically isolated populations, to identify novel health challenges associated with globalization and modernization.  

Laura Zanotti, Associate Professor

Dr. Zanotti is an environmental anthropologist and interdisciplinary social scientist who partners with communities to examine how local, mostly rural, livelihoods and well-being can be sustained and to identify the pathways that shape just futures. Dr. Zanotti joined the Purdue Faculty in 2009 and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology. In all of her work, she stitches together insights from engaged anthropology and visual anthropology to create collaborative and meaningful projects. She has partnered with the Kayapó, an indigenous community in Brazil, for over ten years and is currently working on projects around the United States, in Latin America, and throughout the globe on “media sovereignty” and digital landscapes, environmental justice and valuing nature, and community resilience and healing.




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