Paleoecology Laboratory

Paleoecology Laboratory

Research in the Paleoecology Laboratory focuses on the reconstruction of past human ecological relationships by the means of studying dietary practices, migration, paleoenvironments, and human-animal relationships. The laboratory is setup to:

  • Extract bone collagen for stable isotope analysis (C & N)
  • Extract bone mineral apatite for stable isotope analysis of carbonates (C & O)
  • Clean and prepare a variety of other substances for stable isotope analysis, including hair samples and plants
  • Analyze materials (bone, ceramics, lithics) using a portable X-Ray Florescence (XRF) instrument (Bruker Tracer 5i) to obtain elemental concentrations
  • Study human and animal skeletal morphology
    • Note: Stable isotope mass spectrometry is done in Iowa State University’s Stable Isotope Laboratory, directed by Dr. Alan Wanamaker.


Dr. Andrew Somerville
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Director of Paleoecology Laboratory
World Languages and Cultures
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
3102 Pearson Hall


In addition to the XRF instrument, the laboratory also contains:

  • Double wide Mott Manufacturing fume hood
  • Freeze dryer (Labconco™ FreeZone™ 2.5L -50°C Benchtop Freeze Dryer) with a clear drying chamber
  • Laboratory oven (Fisherbrand™ Isotemp™ General Purpose Heating and Drying Oven)
  • Two analytical balances (Mettler Toledo™)
  • Refrigerator and Freezer
  • Centrifuge (Fisherbrand™ accuSpin™ 8C Small Benchtop Centrifuge)
  • Minicentrifuge (Fisherbrand™ accuSpin™ Micro 17 Microcentrifuge)
  • Dinolite Edge 10X~220X 5.0MP Metal USB 3.0 AMR, EDOF, EDR Handheld Digital Microscope with tabletop stand