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Meet our Faculty

Rowland Apentiik's research and teaching interests lie in the areas of comparative community development; environmental and human resource management; ethnoecology; anthropological theory and methods. Much of Apentiik's research focuses on how indigenous communities engage with specific natural and social-cultural, economic and political environments, as they negotiate their survival in the unfolding context of globalization and its local manifestations. The principal aim of much of his research is to draw the attention of policy makers and agents of development to the significance of local cultural values, systems of thought, mythologies and traditions, perceptions, politics, and histories as critical considerations in the design and implementation of efficacious development projects and programs. Specifically, Apentiik's research interrogates and evaluates both conventional as well as alternative approaches to development, and provides some directions on how to recognize and respond to local stakeholders, cultural gaps, and differences in knowledge systems in development interventions.

Richard Callaghan's research interests are in the archaeology of Lowland South America and the Caribbean and the global development of seafaring and navigation. His current research projects focus on human movement through Wallacea and Sahul during the Late Pleistocene and prehistoric coastal connections between northwestern South America and West Mexico. The analysis for these projects uses computer simulations of ocean conditions to track the routes of early watercraft. Recent publications include an analysis of the potential for maritime trade across the Bay of Biscay during the Western European Neolithic and modeling the prehistoric colonization of Oceania. 

Susanne Cote is a biological anthropologist and leader of the University of Calgary’s Primate Paleobiology Lab. Her research group studies the fossil evidence for ape, monkey, and human evolution, primarily based in East Africa. The primary focus of research is to understand how environmental pressures have shaped the adaptations of early apes and monkeys in East Africa by studying the primate fossils themselves, other mammalian fossils found in association with primates, and other paleoecological proxies. Current fieldwork takes place in northeastern Uganda and the Turkana Basin in Kenya.

Peter Dawson's research focuses on the digital preservation of heritage sites in Alberta and the Canadian Arctic. HE and his graduate students use reality capture technologies such as terrestrial and aerial laser scanning to document, archive, analyse, and preserve heritage resources that are at risk, due to the impacts of climate change and human-caused destruction. His group works with an interdisciplinary team of researchers in such areas as geomatics engineering, computer science, and art. Together they explore how technologies like virtual reality can be used to mobilise knowledge about heritage sites, especially those that are inaccessible to the public because they are too remote or dangerous to visit. Dawson have partnered with Alberta Culture and Tourism, Parks Canada, and the Virtual Museum of Canada on a variety of digital heritage projects and virtual exhibits. 

Andrea Freeman joined the Earth Sciences Program and the Department of Archaeology in 1997. As a geoarchaeologist, Dr. Freeman primarily researches the dynamic among past societies and ancient landscapes. She is particularly focused on river valleys and their potential to attract human groups and preserve record of their presence. Dr. Freeman’s research in Alberta has examined the context of early and middle Holocene sites on the northern Plains. This research has been funded by SSHRC MCRI and standard research grants. She is particularly interested in the potential of late glacial landscapes to draw early human groups into Alberta.  More recently, Dr. Freeman has become interested in the communication of science and of archaeology’s representation in various forms of media.  

Craig Gerlach has an interest in sustainable food, water and energy systems, with a focus on the intersection of climate, weather socioeconomics, policy, community health, and food security. Gerlach also has an interest in food security, sustainable community design, food systems geography, human-wildlife, human-livestock interactions, historical toxicology , and stability and change in long-term patterns of land and natural resource use. Gerlach has a multidisciplinary  background in anthropology, biology , and sustainability are and uses a  broad approach to integrating science of several related disciplines 

Naotaka Hayashi's main research interest focusses on the relationships between humans and the environment in which they live. State of the environment, including physical features, weather, flora and fauna, is dynamic, such that inhabitants' relationship to their environment never remain static. Hayashi has been doing research in Greenland on how local residents have acquired and built knowledge and skills to live off ever-shifting environments. For example, he is investigating sheep farming in South Greenland and sea-mammal hunting in North and East Greenland to unfold how local residents adjust and develop their understanding of the environment, while coping with changing climatic variability and conditions. More recently, Hayashi has been interested in how people form and shape a future vision of happiness, hope, or well-being through their human-environment relationship.

Christopher Holdsworth's research interests focuses on the history and philosophy of Anthropology. He is also interested in the impact culture has on business, especially understanding corporate culture, the role culture has on consumers, and how culture impacts multinational corporations and conducting business internationally. Another area of interest is the history of indigenous-non-indigenous relations in Canada. COurse Holdsworth teaches are Business Anthropology, the History of Anthropology, Contemporary Aboriginal Issues, Economic Anthropology, the Anthropology of Religion, and introduction to Anthropology. In 2017 Holdsworth published An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective. He is also currently the undergraduate program director for the department and work on developing the course offerings by the Department.

Steig Johnson's research career in Madagascar began in 1995, where he has conducted research on lemur behaviour, ecology, and population biology across the southeastern rain forests. Study systems of interest include lemur communities in forests impacted by fragmentation and cyclones, as well as a brown lemur hybrid zone. Johnson is especially interested in multi-scale approaches with the potential to link proximate ecological and broader evolutionary processes.

M. Anne Katzenberg studies human skeletal and dental remains from archaeological contexts.  She specializes in the reconstruction of past diet, health and lifestyle using stable isotope methods.  She has a lab for preparation of samples for various types of chemical analyses including extraction of collagen for light stable isotopes and preparation of enamel for strontium isotopes. She is currently working on a project in Mexico and has worked in many other parts of the world including the lower Great Lakes, Ecuador, Siberia and Texas.

Jennifer Leason Keesis Sagay Egette Ekwé (First Shining Rays of Sunlight Woman) is a Saulteaux-Métis Anishinaabek Kwé (woman) and mother of Lucas (age 8) and Lucy (age 5). Jennifer is of mixed ancestry and her Indigenous roots are from Duck Bay, Pine Creek First Nation and Camperville, Manitoba. She is grateful to the First peoples and communities of Treaty 7 and Métis Nation Alberta, Region III in which the University of Calgary is situated. Dr. Leason's research interests are Canadian and International Indigenous people’s health, with a focus on Indigenous maternal-child and reproductive health. She is a community-based researcher who uses mixed methods, including Indigenous theory and methods. 

Diane Lyons conducts ethnoarchaeological research in Africa that focuses on how social identities are constituted in vernacular architecture, community and household spaces, culinary practice and in the material objects of everyday life.  Her current research examines how social perceptions of marginalized potters in northern highland Ethiopia effects pottery production, consumption and distribution.

Charles Mather has a PhD in Archaeology with a specialisation in Ethnoarchaeology from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Calgary.  Nicholas David supervised his dissertation fieldwork which was focused on shrines among the Kusasi of Northern Ghana.  Following his PhD, Mather was a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Calgary, working under Usher Fleising.  In his post-doctoral work, Mather conducted fieldwork in a teaching hospital wherein he investigated relations between biomedicine and the pharmaceutical industry as part of a multi-site, cross institutional investigation of the drug pipeline.  Hired as a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Calgary, he continued to study pharmaceuticals and Kusasi society.  Currently, he is carrying out an ethnographic study of Olympic Weightlifting, and he supervises students who work in the anthropology of sport, anthropology of disability, and social studies of science.  Since his appointment as a professor in 2004, he has supervised students working on a range of topics, including: army cooks, Harry Potter fans, patients with cardiovascular disease, multi-disciplinary medical research projects, ultra-runners, practitioners of yopo ceremonies, obstacles and facilitators to women’s participation in sports, and the Ward of the 21st Century.

Geoffrey McCafferty's current research employs archaeological, ethnohistorical, and art historical perspectives to interpret the cultural processes involved in ethnic change during the Bagaces and Sapoa periods in Pacific Nicaragua, when historical accounts claim close affiliation with Mesoamerican groups from central Mexico. This research supplements continuing investigations into cultural identity in Postclassic Cholula and Oaxaca. A third research theme involves the archaeological interpretation of gender relations in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

Mary MacDonald As a prehistoric archaeologist, the overall theme Mary MacDonald has pursued is the Origins of Agriculture. Initially she investigated the topic in the Near East (Western Iran, Southeast Turkey), more recently, in Northeastern Africa (Dakhleh and Kharga Oases in the Egyptian Western Desert). Topics of interest include the nature and timing of the Neolithic in the oases; adaptations to an arid environment, particularly as revealed in site distribution and the chipped stone industry; evidence for increased sedentism and social complexity; and origins of the Egyptian civilization.

Ben McKay's research interests include the politics of agrarian change in Latin America, food sovereignty alternatives, the extractive character of capitalist agricultural development, the global food system, flex crops, and the rise of emerging economies and their implications for global agrarian transformation. McKay has carried out research and maintains research interests in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. He is a Fellow at the University of Calgary’s Latin American Research Centre and a Research Associate and part of the Global Secretariat of the BRICS Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS).

Amanda Melin addresses key areas of debate concerning the adaptive radiation of primates, including humans. In particular, she asks how primates: 1) use their senses to locate and select foods; and 2) adapt to environmental shifts in resource abundance through diet, behaviour, and symbiosis with microbial communities. By evaluating variation between and within species, she will ask how natural selection shapes the evolution of sensory systems and foraging ecology. Her work unites molecular genetics and genomics, stable isotope analysis, behavioural ecology fieldwork, and computational models of animal vision.

Julio Mercader is an associate professor at the University of Calgary and the principal investigator of the SSHRC-funded project Stone Tools, Diet and Sociality. His interests focus on the climatic and dietary changes that drove human evolution with special emphasis on the African Stone Age from the tropical zone. Dr. Mercader's current research concentrates on a multidisciplinary assessment of ancient environments, diet, subsistence, and technological stability and change in East Africa. Over the years, he has also studied a diversity of archaeological sites in Central, West, and Southern Africa. Dr. Mercader has overseen field and laboratory work in multiple contexts, ranging from undergraduate field schools to highly technical laboratory set-ups

Maribeth Murray is a human ecologist and archaeologist with interests in climate/ecosystem/human interactions. Her research is focused on the human dimensions of climate change, and human and marine system dynamics in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Her work emphasizes the integration of anthropological, climatological, historical, oceanographical, ecological, toxicological datasets to better understand how the Arctic functions as a system with people integral to that system. Current research activities include the development of a citizen-science program for marine observing, the development of polar climate change education tools for adults, and the analysis of climate impacts in a rapidly changing north, including the response of the research community to new challenges.

Gerald Oetelaar A graduate of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Gerald Oetelaar’s current research interests focus on landscape evolution, and human perceptions of the landscape. To explore the evolution of the geomorphological environment on the northwestern Plains, he depends primarily on the western scientific approach. However, when trying to understand human perceptions and uses of the landscape, he relies on the phenomenological approach which involves using alternate worldviews, namely those of First Nations, to interpret the archaeological record of the Northwestern Plains. The decision to employ such complementary approaches has generated new avenues of research such as the roles of humans in the management of ‘natural’ resources throughout the Holocene. Earlier in his academic career, Oetelaar analyzed the morphological and histological attributes of animal bones as indicators of age, sex, weight and season of death and developed a model for the organization of rural agricultural communities in Mississippian societies of the Eastern Woodlands.

Elizabeth Paris is a Mesoamerican archaeologist with a focus on the Maya civilization. She researches the archaeology of urbanism, particularly urban commercial networks, the organization of market neighborhoods, and the manipulation of high-value commodities. Methodological specialties include archaeometallurgy, lithic analysis, zooarchaeology, and compositional analysis. Her research projects in highland Chiapas explore the influence of exotic, high-value goods on household economic organization among the hilltop kingdoms of the Jovel Valley (San Cristóbal region, Chiapas, Mexico), and the sociopolitical relationships between these kingdoms. Projects at Mayapan, Yucatan, Mexico, investigate the role of sub-royal elites in interregional exchange networks and luxury craft industries, focusing particularly on metalworking activities.

Mary Pavelka is a biological anthropologist with interests in the evolution of menopause, the social dynamics of nonhuman primates, and the effects of hurricanes on primate populations and forests.   She focused for many years on the terrestrial omnivorous female-bonded Japanese monkeys of Arashiyama West, before switching to arboreal folivorous non-female bonded black howler monkeys of Monkey River, Belize.   More recently, her research efforts have targeted the fission-fusion dynamics of black handed spider monkeys in Belize.

Sabrina Peric is an historical anthropologist whose research focuses on radical politics. Whether studying ethnonationalists, racial supremacists, or Communist militants, her research seeks to understand how people accept new or extremist ideas, how they act in broader society, and why some of their actions manifest in violence. More specifically, all of her research is situated in extractive centres (oil and mining) and focuses on the role that extractive economic activity plays in fostering political agitation. She is currently the PI for a SSHRC-funded project studying the role of cultural mechanisms – such as literacy programs and reading circles – in fostering the spread of Communist politics amongst industrial workers in southeastern Europe in the 1930s and 40s. She is also a Fellow at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities for 2017-2018, and a convenor of the ‘Energy in Society’ research group in the Faculty of Arts. 

Kathryn Reese-Taylor is interested in the development of complexity, early sedentary communities and agricultural adaptations, archaeology of urbanism, landscape archaeology, and spatial analysis. She has directed several projects in the Maya region at important sites, such as Naachtun in Peten, Guatemala, and is currently the director of the Yaxnohcah Environmental and Archaeological Research Project in the southern Campeche, Mexico. The project focuses on environmental changes, human-environment interaction, and the development of urbanism in the Maya lowlands. 

Pascale Sicotte’s research interests revolve around social processes underlying group formation and group maintenance in primates. She is thus interested in investigating questions that relate to social relationships, mate choice, dispersal patterns, kinship and how these relate to each other. Sicotte started her research working on mountain gorillas at the Karisoke Research Center, where she investigated the effect of male reproductive competition on male-female relationships. Since 2000, she has led a research team working on Colobus vellerosus at the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary in Central Ghana. We have investigated several aspects of the social life of these monkeys, including dispersal patterns, life history, infanticide, infant development, etc. I am also interested in conservation issues. The nature of the site at BFMS, where the monkeys are protected from hunting by traditional taboos, and where the communities are involved in the management of the Sanctuary, makes it an interesting case study to examine questions of traditional conservation practices, and community-based conservation. Dr. Sicotte is Vice-Dean Faculty of Arts from 2018-2023.

Alan Smart (PhD, U of Toronto, 1986) has conducted research on urban issues, housing, foreign investment, social change, food safety, zoonotic diseases, and agriculture in Hong Kong, China, and Canada.  He is author of "Making Room:  Squatter Clearance in Hong Kong" (Hong Kong:  Hong Kong University Press, 1992) “Petty capitalists and globalization” (co-edited with Josephine Smart, SUNY Press, 2005), “The Shek Kip Mei Myth: Squatters, fires and colonial rule in Hong Kong, 1950-1963” (Hong Kong University Press, 2006), “Posthumanism: Anthropological Insights" (co-authored with Josephine Smart U Toronto Press, 2017) and numerous articles in journals and edited volumes.  Current research is focusing on urban informality and development policy.

P.L. Josephine Smart is an economic anthropologist trained at the University of Toronto (PhD 1987).  Her latest publication is a book co-authored with Alan Smart tilted "Posthumanism – Anthropological Insight" (U of T Press, 2017).  Her main research interests and publications cover topics on political economy, informal economy, food production/consumption/safety and trade, zoonotic diseases and crisis impact, migration and globalization.  Her main fieldwork sites are in East Asia and North America.

Dale Walde's primary research focus is on the archaeology of the Canadian Plains. He has worked in the area for over thirty years and has published extensively on the dynamics of the latest precontact cultures in the area. Dr. Walde is an expert in the pottery of past Canadian Plains peoples and has identified several ceramic wares peculiar to the area. He is also actively exploring questions of how and why the bow and arrow was adopted in the region and comparing those patterns of change with their counterparts in other areas of the world. Dr. Walde also has a strong interest in the statistical analysis of archaeological data and is applying that interest to paleobotanical materials from eastern Africa.

Matthew Walls studies the deep history of community-environment relationships, and how people come to perceive and act together in a world that is always in flux. His work produces theory on the role of creativity in long term process, and focuses on questions that address the ecology of knowledge, how it is constructed and attuned between generations, and the dynamics of practice-based communities through time. His research projects explore these topics within hunter-gatherer communities and he directs archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork in Greenland and Czech Republic.
Warren Wilson is a biological anthropologist who tries to understand what influences the health of folks in developing countries.  In doing so, he considers health in light of physiology, culture, and evolution.   Wilson includes culture as decades of research have demonstrated that behaviour strongly influences health and that only by understanding cultural contexts can we begin to provide sustainable solutions.  He includes evolution as it can explain both why bodies work so well and why many aspects of bodies seem to be so vulnerable to failure.  Wilson’s early work focused on children in urban Colombia (1992-1993), Amerindians in both the Colombian Amazon (1993-1997) and Guyana’s rainforests (1999-2007), and refugees in Canada (2008-2009). From 2010-2013, in collaboration with Jason DeCaro (U. Alabama), Wilson initiated and ran a project documenting health and its predictors among mothers and their children in Tanzania.  In 2014, in collaboration with Barbara Piperata (Ohio State U.), Kammi Schmeer (Ohio State U.), Jason DeCaro (U. Alabama), and Comunidad Connect (Nicaraguan NGO), he initiated and continues to run a project exploring maternal and child health in rural Nicaragua.  This research considers the relationship between an array of predictors (e.g. food insecurity, social capital, sociodemographics) and an innovative model which captures the cumulative impact of environmental challenges on overall health (allostatic load).  The immediate outcome of these projects is the identification of barriers to maternal and child health in these regions, which in the long term should lead to the development of new evidence-based and locally-relevant solutions.
Saulesh Yessenova is a sociocultural anthropologist interested in energy transition, the Cold War situation, international spectacles and infrastructures supporting energy markets and innovation.  Yessenova was brought up in Kazakhstan, then part of the USSR.  Her academic career as an anthropologist has brought Yessenova to Canada, but she still focuses on Kazakhstan for her research and writing.