Today’s spotlight post is about former TARL intern and current volunteer Lauren Koutlias, who studies bioarchaeology and osteology.
My name is Lauren Koutlias. I am an anthropology major at UT focusing on biological anthropology and archaeology. My internship at TARL started in September of 2015, so I have been helping in the human osteology lab for over a year. My current project at TARL is doing the re-inventory, and ultimately re-analysis, of individuals analyzed using now-outdated forms back in the 1980s.
As an honors student, I also have the privilege of pursuing an honors thesis and original research utilizing TARL skeletal collections. My research focuses on differences in paleopathology rates among juveniles at the Morhiss, Crestmont, and Ernest Witte mortuary sites on the Western Gulf Coastal Plains of Texas and making inferences about diet, including weaning age, and how infectious disease is impacted or exacerbated by nutrition. My supervisor and second reader are Drs. John Kappelman and Maria Wade, respectively.
TARL is not my only internship focusing on human skeletal material. I am also an intern in the eAnthro Projects lab in the Department of Anthropology at UT. Utilizing a NextEngine scanner, ScanStudio Pro, and Blender, I create 3D digital files of skeletal individuals for the new eAnthro project, eForensics.
This past summer, I participated in the Belize Archaeological Field School through UT. I excavated larger structures at La Milpa as well as smaller Maya water conservation sites near La Milpa. I was also able to assist the project osteologist with bioarchaeological excavations of Maya burials, which was an extremely interesting and necessary experience for me and my future!
Finally, I am the current president of the Anthropological Society at UT (AnthroSociety). My goal this semester is to help foster better research relationships between undergraduates and faculty members, specifically sociocultural and linguistics researchers. The AnthroSociety has a history of favoring archaeology and biological anthropology members and professors. We are striving to show all our professors that our undergraduate members are interested in learning about their research. Another goal is to offer more graduate application and writing help for those members that know they want to pursue graduate school.
I am hoping to continue on full-force into graduate school in fall of 2017. I am most interested in the programs at UC Santa Barbara, Texas State University, and Vanderbilt University. My plans are to continue my research on juvenile osteology and childhood nutritional paleopathology in a graduate context.
P.S. Come check out the Anthropological Society booth at the Texas Archaeology Fair! We’ll be doing an art “rock” wall where you can paint your own rock art and/or anything else you feel is representative of archaeology and anthropology!