Chair, Associate Professor
Office: PH 0211
Degree : PhD - New York University
Advising : Archaeology
I am an archaeologist, so I teach most of the archaeology courses offered by our department. Some of these courses cover archaeological method and theory, while others cover topics in prehistory. The method and theory courses cover both laboratory and field. Through some of these courses, especially the field school and senior project, students have the opportunity to learn about anthropological archaeology by doing it.
I also teach the four-field introductory course, which I enjoy very much. This course gives me the opportunity to reach a broader student audience, and I believe teaching all four fields of anthropology makes me a better archaeologist. I also teach an interdisciplinary studies (IS) course called "Living Ecologically", which again gives me the opportunity to reach a greater variety of students. I enjoy teaching the IS course and cultural ecology because I am interested in human use of the environment across cultures and because I am an environmentalist.
2002: A.E. Harmon 11MS136
2006: D. hitchins 11MS1124
2009: Gehring 11MS99 & 11MS157
Click here to see a video from the 2009 field school
ANTH 111: Introduction to Anthropology
ANTH 325: Archaeological Methods and Theory
ANTH 331: World Prehistory
ANTH 333: New World Cities and States
ANTH 334: Origins of Agriculture
ANTH 340: Cultural Ecology
ANTH 375: Archaeological Field School I
ANTH 430: Zooarchaeology
ANTH 432: Prehistory of Illinois
ANTH 475: Archaeology Field School II
ANTH 490: Senior Assignment
ANTH 491: Senior Project
I'm originally from Barnhart , Missouri , the youngest of five children and one of the first people in my family to attend college. I went to Washington University in St. Louis on scholarship, where I got my B.A. in anthropology. I was always interested in other cultures, but after I went on my first archaeological excavation at age 18, I decided that past cultures were the cultures that interested me most. In college I studied prehistoric ceramics, flintknapping, and human osteology before I decided that I wanted to specialize in zooarchaeology, the study of animal remains from archaeological sites. My M.A. and Ph.D. are from New York University . At NYU I studied European archaeology for a year before I decided that Midwestern archaeology interested me more.
I have been teaching at SIUE since the fall of 2000. I am really happy to have a job only an hour away from my family back in Barnhart. SIUE is also conveniently located right in the middle of my research area. I love teaching and working with students, most of whom are from the area where I grew up. I live with my husband, two sons, and multiple dogs on a farm north of Edwardsville. We are busily restoring the natural environment - planting prairies, rebuilding wetlands, etc. - and watching the wildlife it attracts. It is clear that prehistoric people found this spot equally beautiful and fruitful, as evidenced by the archaeological sites scattered across our property.
I am interested in the prehistory of western Illinois , particularly the American Bottom (the portion of the Mississippi River valley that stretches from Alton to Chester ) and the Illinois Valley . For my master's thesis I analyzed animal remains and features from a Terminal Late Woodland-Emergent Mississippian site (ca. AD 800-1000) near Cahokia . For my dissertation I analyzed animal remains and features from Middle Woodland-early Late Woodland sites (ca. AD 100-500) farther north, in the Illinois Valley. Fortunately, SIUE is centrally located within my research area. Unfortunately, the rich archaeological record of this area is rapidly being destroyed due to development. By teaching field schools in this area, I have the opportunity to do my research, educate students, and record a small portion of that archaeological record before it disappears.
My specialty is zooarchaeology, the archaeology of animal remains. Animal remains obviously give information about the environment and human diet in prehistory; however, they can also tell us about prehistoric socioeconomies and ancient belief systems. Beyond zooarchaeology, I am more broadly interested in the interaction between humans, animals, plants, and the rest of the environment. I enjoy living in the area where I do my research; on a daily basis I can see many of the same animals, plants, and features of the landscape that prehistoric people saw. I must admit that I find the prehistoric human-plant relationship of western Illinois more dynamic than the human-animal relationship. Humans hunted deer and fished throughout most of prehistory, and while their preference for one animal vs. the other varied during different periods and in different places, that variation is relatively subtle. Variation in human-plant relationships is much more dramatic, given that people domesticated a number of native weedy species several thousand years ago and imported maize about a thousand years ago. However, as much as I love seeing, and sometimes collecting and eating, these native weeds on my farm, I really don't want to look at their seeds underneath a microscope all day! To save my eyes and my sanity, I'm going to stick to bones. Besides, bones are cool.