Latest Anthropology Department News

Latest Anthropology Department News


Research unearths potential career path

It’s pretty evident. Cassie McMillen enjoys testing the limits of her curiosity. Where it goes, she follows with enthusiasm.

Her latest academic quest began with a simple cultural anthropology class, then grew into a healthy fascination this past summer digging in Ohio at a Hopewell habitation site to ultimately reaching a national stage recently at the 114th American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in Denver. McMillen, a senior anthropology and psychology major, has been working with DeeAnne Wymer, professor of anthropology, since the spring on the professor’s ongoing research of the Hopewell culture in southern Ohio that existed between about 100 B.C. and A.D. 400.

“(It’s) a huge experience as an undergrad to present research at a national conference,” says McMillen of her opportunity to present this latest research at the AAA meetings. “I also present last year, so I’m building my CV (curriculum vitae). And I’ve had the field school, so I’m building my CV even more, which makes me a good candidate for grad school.”

Anthropology majors present research at AAA annual meetings

Anthropology Undergraduate Research

Anthropology students Erika Maxson, Maggie Hill, and Cassandra McMillen were mentored by faculty members Damien Marken, Faith Warner, and DeeAnne Wymer as they presented their original and collaborative research on the national stage of the world’s largest professional organization of Anthropologists.

Last summer Maxson participated in archaeological mapping of the Classic Maya (250-900 CE) city of El Perú-Waka’ in the Petén lowlands of Guatemala as a member of the El Perú-Waka’Regional Archaeological Project under the direction of Damien Marken. Her poster in Denver presented the results of hydrological analysis of the topographic data from the city center and a regional digital elevation model (DEM) to determine where water flows and accumulates within the site and the region.

Student travel was supported by COLA Student Professional Development awards and an URSCA award supported the research conducted by Cassandra during the summer 2015 Bloomsburg University Archaeology Fieldschool directed by DeeAnne Wymer. Hill also received a summer 2015 URSCA grant to complete her research towards completion of her Honor’s Program requirements under the supervision of Faith Warner.

Also attending was May 2015 Bloomsburg graduate Jasmin Velez who presented original ethnographic research conducted under the direction of Faith Warner and who now attends graduate school at the University of Colorado, Denver. Students networked with professionals in their field and attended a graduate school and job placement fair at the conference.

  • Maggie L. Hill — Digital Devil Invasion: Cyberethnography of the Megami Tensei Fanbase
  • Erika Maxson — Tropical Urban Topography: GIS Analysis of the Classic Maya Site El Peru- Waka’
  • Cassandra McMillen — What Lies Beneath: Archaeology at the Edge of the Sacred and Secular
  • Jasmin Velez — Constructing “Coffee Culture”: Identity through Coffee Consumption

Anthropology field goes on full display

Anthropology Research

Yes, there’s more to anthropology than excavating an archaeological dig. In fact, there are some interesting disciplines like cultural anthropology, language anthropology and even biological anthropology. Each of these were on display this weekend at the 2015 PASSHE Anthropology Research Conference, hosted by Bloomsburg University this year.

More than 45 research projects were presented, discussed and on display. Topics included gender equality, perceptions of coal, generational differences on art and technology, as well as cyberethnography. Among the future anthropologists representing BU was Jasmin Velez, a senior presenting her Cultural Anthropology research.

“I wanted to identify why people drink coffee, including the idea of coffee drinkers having certain characteristics traits that make them predisposed to enjoy and drink more coffee,” Velez said. “I also explored whether avid coffee drinkers cared about the source of where they got their coffee from, including Fair Trade concerns, or if overall they just wanted their coffee.”

Velez plans to continue this undergraduate research in graduate school. Lacy Marbaker, a senior anthropology major, will join Velez in representing BU at the state conference. She researched “Methodological Challenges in Forensic Anthropology: Water Pollution, Decomposition, and Post-Mortem Interval.”

“The research focuses on the challenges currently presented in the field of Forensic Anthropology in water studies,” Marbaker said. “… such as adequate test subjects, assessing the levels of water contamination, testing containment, issues with the by-products of decomposition, contamination of other variables, and proper biohazard disposal after the experimental research.”

Anthropology major wins National Honor Society Scholarship

Lacy Marbaker

Lacy Marbaker, a May 2015 graduate with a 4.0 GPA, recently received the XL National Lambda Alpha Scholarship and a Charles R. Jenkins Certificate of Distinguished Achievement from Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Honor Society in anthropology. This highly competitive $5,000 award recognizes the nation’s top graduating senior in anthropology as selected by the national executive committee.

This fall, Marbaker will begin her graduate studies in biomedical anthropology at Binghamton University. In her quest to further knowledge in anthropology, she participated in a fully funded research opportunity through Bloomsburg University’s Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (URSCA) program in the areas of forensic anthropology and forensic taphonomy.

Her study, “The Effects of Susquehanna River Water Pollution on Decomposition of Sus scrofa domesticus: An Application of Forensic Anthropology,” examined the type and rate of decomposing human remains in polluted water against the same effects in purified water. This unique research marks the first scientific study of contaminated water on human remains and has been showcased at numerous conferences such as the PASSHE Undergraduate Anthropology Research Conference.

Faculty and students inducted into National Honor Society

Lambda Alpha Inductees

DeeAnne Wymer and 26 anthropology students were inducted into Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Honor Society in Anthropology, Zeta Chapter of Pennsylvania this spring in the Schwieker Room of Andruss Library. Faith Warner is the advisor for the Bloomsburg University chapter.

Also recognized were graduating seniors and Lacy Marbaker, who was selected as the 2015 Outstanding Senior in Anthropology and Kelly Haggerty, who received the 2015 Wymer-Warner Scholarship in Anthropology. James Brown, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, welcomed new inductees, award winners, and their friends and families to the annual end of the year reception.

Lambda Alpha Inductees

Jessica Amato, Sasha Beckman, James Davis, Tyler Diggan, Stephanie Cabral, Nazeer Curry, Katherine Close, Vernetta Coaxum, Candace DeMarco, Paul Deppen, Bryce Foster, Clarissa Hoke, Kelly Haggerty, Maggie Hill, Ian Johnson, Erika Maxson, Cassandra McMillen, Carla Mincemoyer, Jacob Osborne, Trent Rudy, Lindsey Tennis, Jasmin Velez, Kara Byrne, Victoria Rawa, Albra Wheele, and Bela Vaszlavik.

Pura Vida, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Study Abroad

I recently returned home from a two week stay in Costa Rica studying primate behavior and conservation methods. For the majority of my time we stayed at the Piro Research Station located just a half mile from the Pacific Ocean in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

The Piro Research Station is located in “the most biologically intense place on earth” claimed by National Geographic. Osa Conservation is an organization based at the Piro Research Station ( and many other research stations) with a mission to conserve the globally terrestrial and marine biology of the Osa Peninsula. This experience was one of the biggest blessings and to say the least… I discovered myself in that rainforest.

Anthropology research showcased on national stage

Anthropology Conference

To cap the fall semester, a group of anthropology majors presented original research at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings in Washington D.C. in the invited poster session “First Rites: Innovative Undergraduate Research in Anthropology” peer-reviewed by the Society for Visual Anthropology. Students were mentored by Faith Warner, professor of anthropology, in Methods in Cultural Anthropology and Applied Anthropology, and through an URSCA award in summer 2014. Their travel was supported by the College of Liberal Arts.

  • Back to the Stacks: New Methods and Questions in the Longitudinal Andruss Library Ethnography Project by Cassandra McMillen and Ian Matthew Johnson
  • Gay and Lesbian Rights in Africa: African Perspectives at U.S. Universities by Bryan Andrew Molk
  • Total Freedom on the Dark Side of the Internet: A Cyberethnography of 4Chan by Benjamin Gilbert Tice (research conducted through an URSCA award, summer 2014)
  • Anthropologists and Missionaries: A Controversial Relationship by Meghan Elizabeth Boarts