Alumni News


Erin Kimmerle

Erin was awarded her MA in 1999 and went on to gain her doctorate at the Univeristy of Tennessee with a specialization in forensic anthropology.  Current she is an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at the University of South Florida.  Erin is leading an investigation into a 100 year old reform school cemetery in the Florida panhandle town of Mariana.  The story can be viewed here and you can visit Erin's faculty web page by clickng on her photo.


Ryan Schacht

Ryan was awarded his BA in 2008 and is now a doctoral student finishing his PhD at UC Davis.  This summer Ryan won the best conference poster (with Monique Borgerhoff Mulder) a the 24 annual meeting of the Human Behavior meeting at the University of New Mexico this summer.   The poster
was entitled “Explaining Sex Roles in Humans: Sex Ratio Effects on Reproductive Strategies.”

Ryan’s research takes him to the rain forests of Guyana where he does research on mate choice and reproductive strategies among the Makushi and how men and women respond flexibly to
environmental context.  His research is funded by NSF and Wenner Gren and he expect to graduate
in 2013.  In the photo Ryan is checking for black caiman as he is travelling up river in Guyana to his research site. 


Katie Starkweather

A recent graduate of our master's program (MA 2011) Katie Starkweather won best student paper for the Evolutionary Anthropology Society of the American Anthropological Association at the November meeting 2011. The paper entitled "A Survey of Non-Classical Polyandry" was published this summer in Human Nature and is co-authored with Raymond Hames.

 In addition, in November of 2011 she was elected Student Representative to Evolutionary Anthropology Society of the American Anthropological Association. This summer Katie completed an intensive Bengali language course at the University of Wisconsin to prepare for her return to her field site in Bangladesh.  In the photo Katie is returning from interview a river family in Bangladesh


Benjamin Purzycki

Benjamin Purzycki (MA, 2006) recently earned his PhD at the University of Connecticut and currently has a post-doctoral
position at the University of British-Columbia's Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture working on the evolution of religious systems and religious cognition.  He has conducted fieldwork in the Tyva Republic (Tuva) and has published works in a variety of journals including Cognitive Science, Religion, Brain and Behavior, Journal of Cognition and Culture, and Skeptic Magazine. He also published an article with alumni Kyle Gibson (see below) entitled “Religion and Violence: An Anthropological Study on Religious Belief and Violent Behavior” in Skeptic Magazine in volume 16 (2), March 2011 ( .The paper questions the often made claim that religion causes violence by examining how religion may serve merely as a tool used to justify or organize people to commit violent acts.  You
can download the paper here:




Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson (M.A. 2004) completed his Ph.D. with specialization in human evolutionary ecology at the University of
Utah under Dr. Kristen Hawkes.  The research he conducted for his master's thesis at UNL was published in Evolution and Human Behavior under the title "Differential Parental Investment in Families with both Adopted and Genetic Children."  Kyle works as a researcher and instructor at the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business
Administration here at UNL.  Along with Dr. Theresa Welbourne, he uses methods and theory from anthropology and ecology to investigate why some businesses succeed and others fail.  


 Archived Alumi News can be found here

Faculty News


Emily Hammerl

Dr. Hammerl just published a chapter in Research Methods in Skeletal Biology edited by Elizabeth A. DiGangi and Megan K. Moore.  Her chapter entitled "Dental Anthropology" can be viewed here.  According to the website: A" text reference that provides a step-by-step guide to conducting research in human skeletal biology, covering diverse topics relating to the biological profile as well as the application of new technologies."




William Hunt and Ralph Hartley

Virtually all archaeological investigations in Southeast Alaska have concentrated on coastal areas. As a result, there is little understanding of the extent to which inland
and alpine areas were utilized in Native subsistence and other activities. Stone cairns reported in mountainous areas throughout the region are an indication of significant human use of these alpine settings. These alpine rock cairns are known to be in place
by the time of Russian arrival to the region in the 1790s. The Tlingit, who have occupied this region for at least 4,000 years, have little specific knowledge regarding who, when, or why the cairns were constructed. The specific objectives of this NSF-funded pilot project is to ascertain whether site-specific and oral history data exist to determine why and when these cairns were created and the cultural identification of those building the cairns. The overall project goal is to pursue an accurate interpretation of the role of rock cairns within the cultural topography of Southeast Alaska. The project, led by Drs.
William Hunt and Ralph Hartley, brings together an interdisciplinary team of specialists
in anthropological archaeology, geography, oral history, and lichenology within a partnership that includes the U.S. Forest Service, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, the Kootsnoowoo or Hutsnuwu Tlingit represented by the Angoon Community Association, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Oregon State University, Oxford University, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Archived Faculty News can be found here

Student News

Anee Cafer to Present her Thesis Defense
Unearthing Agricultural Factors, Health Indicators, and Development Concerns in South Wollo, Ethiopia"
Anne Cafer
(2011) City Campus Oldfather 907

Although many studies have focused on the plight, poverty, and severe mal-nutrition of rural Ethiopians, few have managed to use a holistic approach, incorporating qualitative and quantitative data, to investigate this complex issue.

Read More


"Anthropology students search for Haymarket history"

"A group of UNL students have started a multi-year dig into the history of Lincoln's historic train depot district.

Participating in the 2010 summer field school in archaeology, the students are searching for artifacts and buildings that date back to the 1870s. The dig is led by Peter Bleed, professor of archaeology, and planned in coordination with the city of Lincoln before construction of the Haymarket Arena begins."


Archived Student News can be found here

Adjunct News

William Hunt and Ralph Hartley

Congratulations! Dr. William Hunt and Dr. Ralph Hartley adjunct professor of anthropology to our department  have been awarded an $201,000 NSF Grant for their pilot work: “A Multidisciplinary Exploratory Study of Alpine Cairns, Baranof Island, Southeast Alaska”.

Presentations by Faculty and Students


Session Abstract
Farming, Food and Fitness: Designing a Food Security Initiative in Drought-Prone Regions of Ethiopia
Few anthropologists have the opportunity to work within a holistic, multidisciplinary framework, despite requests by university administrators and donors, and the disciplinary emphasis on holism.  We had the opportunity to create what we hope will be a long-term program, focused on food security and water, in drought-prone regions of Ethiopia.  Uniting cultural and biological anthropologists with agronomists, soil scientists, and drought specialists, we have started to address the complex, multifaceted dilemma surrounding food security with faculty and students from three institutions in the U.S. and Ethiopia.  Grants, pilot projects, U.S. and Ethiopian University collaborations, and shared teaching and training are discussed.   

Presentation Abstracts

"Creating a Holistic Food Security Project":  Lessons from Ethiopia
M.S. Willis, S. Beyene, R. Hames, M. Mamo, T. Regassa, T. Tadessa
We are a team of six scholars, representing distinct disciplines and colleges at the University of Nebraska.    We have conducted international research, have applied, development expertise and ties to Ethiopia.  Beginning in 2009, we began to discuss a food security project which requires contributions from all of our disciplines, but also wished to create a participatory, collaborative approach with Ethiopian scholars and local farming populations.  Focused on two drought-prone regions, we have recently established partnerships with Ethiopian universities, signed institutional agreements, completed our first pilot assessment, and trained our first graduate student.   We lay the foundation for a holistic approach.

“Water washes away not only dirt but also poverty”: Access to water improves farmers’ livelihoods in Dammota, Eastern Ethiopia
Shimelis Beyene, Ray Hames,  Martha Mamo, Teshome Regassa, Tsegaye Tadesse, and Mary Willis
East Hararghe Zone in Ethiopia is a drought-prone and chronically food insecure area, receiving food assistance regularly since 1985. In June 2010, focus group discussions with farmers in two areas, Fedis and Dammota, revealed that while farmers in Fedis are still dependent on external assistance for survival, the story is quite different in Dammota. Dammota’s farmers have developed irrigation wells boosting not only food production but also diversifying into cash crops, leading to the emergence of unprecedented wealth. In Dammota, farmers’ concerns are no longer about food production; but rather about markets for their products and determining underground water potential.

Graduate Students

Unearthing Agricultural Factors, Health Indicators, and Development Concerns in South Wollo, Ethiopia
Although many studies have focused on the plight, poverty, and severe malnutrition of rural dwellers in South Wollo, Ethiopia, few have incorporated qualitative and quantitative data, using a collaborative approach, within the same study.  I gathered agricultural perception data and and assessed growth using anthropometry.  Local development agents, community leaders, farmers, and household members were interviewed.   Farmers from 120 households indicated that educational components within agricultural extension programs are limited.  Moreover, family health status, but also environmental health, are major concerns.  Within two districts of South Wollo, a majority of people suffer from severe malnutrition; body mass indices demonstrate that wasting and stunting are prevalent. 

Undergraduate Students

(No new upcoming presentations at this time)

Prior Presentations can be found here

New Course Offerings

(No new course offerings at this time)