Andrew Somerville, PhD

Laboratory Director

I am a biological anthropologist and archaeologist in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Iowa State University. I received by BA in anthropology from Arizona State University (2001-2006) and an MA and PhD from the University of California San Diego (UCSD, 2007-2015). At UCSD, I spent two years as a NSF-IGERT Fellow with Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s project, Global Climate Change, Marine Ecosystems, and Society. After my graduate training, I spent a year lecturing in the Anthropology Department at California State University, Dominguez Hills (2016-2017) and a year serving as a UCMEXUS postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Geology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City (2017-2018). In 2018, I joined the faculty of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Iowa State University where I am currently an assistant professor of anthropology. My research combines skeletal analysis and archaeological excavation methods with stable isotope analyses of human and animal bones to gain insights about past practices of food production, distribution, and consumption. I am particularly interested in the relationship between food production systems and their relationship to climatic changes.

Maddy Tribbett

MA Student

Maddy graduated with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Chemistry from Northern Arizona University in 2022. She is currently working towards completing a MA degree in Anthropology at Iowa State University and is focusing on bioarchaeological research in Mesoamerica. She has participated in field research at the ancient Maya cities of Xunantunich and Cahal Pech as part of the BVAR field school program. In the Paleoecology Laboratory, she is currently analyzing a collection of historical and ancient teeth from Taiwan, and her MA project focuses reconstructing dietary patterns of the ancient Maya across time and space.

Serena Webster

MA Student

Serena has a BA degree in Anthropology from the University of Maine and is currently working towards completing a MA degree in archaeology at Iowa State University. She is specializing in the analysis of obsidian artifacts in the Americas. Her MA thesis research is using a pXRF instrument to determine source locations of obsidian samples from the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan at the Hacienda Metepec neighborhood where she participated in field excavations during the summer of 2022.

Autumn Pauley

Undergraduate Student Research Assistant

Autumn is a double major in Anthropology and International Studies and is working towards a minor in Chinese Studies. She is a McNair Scholar, and the president of the Undergraduate Anthropology Club. She began working in the Paleoecology Laboratory in 2021 on a research project involving the stable isotope analysis of ancient animal bones from western Iowa in order to determine aspects of the environment and to reconstruct the diet of the Oneota people. Her time in the lab was funded by the ISU LAS Dean’s High Impact Award for undergraduate research.

Feben Ruscitti

Undergraduate Student Research Assistant

Feben is an anthropology major and has participated in both archaeological field laboratory studies associated with the Paleoecology Laboratory. In the summer of 2022 field, she participated in field excavations at the archaeological site of Hacienda Metepec/Teotihuacan. In the laboratory, her research is exploring the effect of bone particle size on the consistency of stable isotope data.

Elise Thrap

Undergraduate Student Research Assistant

Elise is a double major in Anthropology and Geology at Iowa State University. She is currently working in the Paleoecology Laboratory on several projects involving the processing of bone samples for stable isotope analysis of collagen and bioapatite including samples from Cerro del Teul, Zacatecas, Mexico. She also works as a research assistant in the Stable Isotope Laboratory in the Department of Geology at ISU.

Colburn Avery

Undergraduate Student Research Assistant

Colburn is an undergraduate student at Iowa State majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Linguistics. He is particularly interested in what linguistics can bring to the practice of anthropology as a whole and archaeology in particular. His work in the Paleoecology Lab has included using Adobe Illustrator to trace field profile and plan view drawings from the 2022 excavations at Hacienda Metepec, Teotihuacan. He is working to digitize field documents and forms.