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Faculty News and Updates

David Anderson

Professor David Anderson was recently appointed to the National Park System Advisory Board National Historic Landmarks Committee. The committee consists of nationally recognized scholars and experts in history, archeology, architectural history, preservation, and cultural resource management. Anderson will serve on the committee from 2020 to 2024.

Alex Bentley

In collaboration with Professor Nina Fefferman of the Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics, Professor Alex Bentley also received a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation titled “Modeling coupled social and epidemiological networks that determine the success of behavioral interventions on limiting COVID-19 spread.” The grant will allow them to develop practical tools (models) that predict the interaction between collective behavior and the dynamics of disease spread across time and space. Understanding what drives collective behavior, which may require different incentives and nudges to help prevent disease transmission, will allow for more effective public health messaging.

Graciela S. Cabana

Associate Professor Graciela Cabana was part of a research team whose work on the relationship between migration and marine adaptations in South Patagonia appeared in Nature Communications in the summer of 2020.

Joanne Devlin

Distinguished Lecturer Joanne Devlin was a 2019 recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Advising Award for her outstanding work in undergraduate advising.

Barbara J. Heath

Professor Barbara Heath began a two-year term as president of the Society for Historical Archaeology, the largest, international scholarly society for the archaeological study of the modern world, in January 2020.

Kandace D. Hollenbach

Assistant Professor Kandace Hollenbach began a two-year term as president of the Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology in 2020 and was recently elected as president-elect to the Southeastern Archaeological Conference (2020-2022).

Professors Heath and Hollenbach have been awarded a multi-year grant to examine the relationships between people and plants in the diet and practices relating to food (foodways), economy, and ecology of the colonial Chesapeake region from 1630 to 1730. The project is the first comparative study of its kind, and includes samples from 17 archaeological sites in Virginia and Maryland.


Ellen Lofaro has been promoted to be the director of repatriation at UT. Lofaro’s new position is in the Office of the Provost, but she still allocates a portion of her position to curation and collections for the department.

Lofaro, doctoral student Megan Kleeschulte, and Bruce Anderson received a National Institute of Justice grant titled “Implementing NAGPRA: Connecting Medical Examiner and Coroner Offices to Tribal Partners,” in 2019. The work funded by the grant will comprise a large part of Megan’s doctoral research.

Distinguished Lecturer De Ann Pendry received the Vera E. Campbell Advanced Seminar Series grant from The School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Irma Velásquez Nimatuj, a Maya K’iche’ anthropologist, journalist, and activist from Guatemala, who is a visiting professor at Stanford University. They will host a seminar titled Indigenous Women’s Proposals to Address the Root Causes of Migration. Together with other seminar participants, they will discuss practical strategies for improving the economic prosperity, health, and well-being of indigenous women and their families in Guatemala with the goals of reducing poverty and emigration from indigenous communities and providing opportunities to develop local capacities and creativity. Originally scheduled for June 2020, the seminar was delayed because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

Jan F. Simek

Professor Jan Simek, doctoral student Beau Carroll, and colleagues received the Patty Jo Watson Award from the Southeastern Archaeological Conference. Their article “Talking Stones: Cherokee Syllabary in Manitou Cave, Alabama,” published in Antiquity, won the award for 2020, given for the best article or chapter on Southeastern archaeology each year. Simek, colleague Stephen Alvarez of the Ancient Art Archive, and the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma were awarded the 2020 Native American Speaker’s Commendation, given to a specific tribal consultation meeting by the SEAC Native American Council. The award recognizes Simek and Alvarez’s visit to the Chickasaw Nation to report on their documentation of Foxtrap Rockshelter in Alabama under two contracts with the Tribe.

Tamar Shirinian

Post-doctoral Fellow Tamar Shirinian was featured as an author interviewee in the journal PoLAR (Political and Legal Anthropology Review) for her article “Fakeness: Digital Inauthenticity and Emergent Political Tactics in Armenia.”

Dawnie Wolfe Steadman

Amy Z. Mundorff

Giovanna Vidoli

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences elected Professor Dawnie Steadman as chair of the Humanitarian and Human Rights Center (HHRRC) in February 2020.The West Virginia University Biometrics Center of Excellence awarded her a grant for “Longitudinal Study of the Postmortem Variability of Biometric Indicators III.”

Steadman and Associate Professor Amy Mundorff also received a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for “SPOT: Signatures in Plants Over Targets” in collaboration with C. Neal Stewart, Scott Lenaghan, and Jennifer DeBruyn (see FAC News).

Steadman and Research Associate Professor Giovanna Vidoli received a grant from the International Committee of the Red Cross for “Efficacy and Durability of the Better Body Bag: Outdoor Longitudinal Testing at the Anthropological Research Facility.”

Research Associate Professor Giovanna Vidoli and Distinguished Lecturer Joanne Devlin received a grant from the National Institute for Justice for “Identification of Blunt Force Traumatic Fractures in Burned Bone” (see FAC News).

Jan Simek received an award from the Noyes Family Foundation in support of Cave Archaeology research.

Simek was elected Chief Scientist by the Southeast Cave Conservancy, Inc.  This is a two-year unpaid position. The SCCI is the world’s largest land conservancy devoted to protecting caves and undertaking research into cave environments.

Recent Faculty Books

  • Simek, J.F., E.E. Pritchard, J. Loubser, S.M. Bow. 2021. The Cosmos Revealed: Precontact Mississippian Rock Art at Painted Bluff, Alabama. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press.
  • Stone Linda, Barbara J. Heath, and Patricia Samford, 2020. Artifacts that Enlighten, The Ordinary and the Unexpected. The Society for Historical Archaeology.
  • Wall-Scheffler, Cara. M., Helen K. Kurki, and Benjamin M. Auerbach, 2020. The Evolutionary Biology of the Human Pelvis: An Integrative Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Carol Diaz-Granados, Jan F. Simek, George Sabo, and Mark J. Wagner, 2018. Transforming the Landscape Rock Art and the Mississippian Cosmos. Oxford, UK: Oxbow Press.
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