Student Stories 2014

Institute of Human Origins-affiliated students recognized for excellence

Evolutionary anthropology doctoral students recognized for special award

Kierstin Catlett and E. Susanne Daly were awarded one of five prizes for outstanding student presentations at the annual American Association of Physical Anthropology (AAPA) meeting in April. Daly and Catlett won the Mildred Trotter prize, given for a superior presentation on a research project that focuses on either bones or teeth. AAPA noted that there were a significant number of high quality submissions at this year’s conference.

Their poster presentation, “A test of the inhibitory cascade (IC) model on primate deciduous premolars,” examined the mechanisms that govern the size of deciduous (i.e., baby or “milk”) teeth by employing a model first formulated from experiments on mouse molars and applying it to predictions of tooth size in primates and fossil hominins. Their results revealed that a small set of simple “developmental directions” govern milk tooth size and also play an important role in determining permanent, or adult, tooth size, even for long-extinct fossil hominins.

Kierstin and Susanne are both doctoral students affiliated with the Institute of Human Origins (IHO) with dissertation advisor Gary Schwartz, IHO research associate and associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Schwartz, notes that their study is an elegant example of how working across the disciplines of comparative, evolutionary, and developmental biology holds great potential for generating novel and exciting details about primate tooth growth that have real and important paleoanthropological implications.

Kierstin’s research interest is the functional and biological role of great ape deciduous teeth. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Wyoming and Northern Illinois University, respectively, and is originally from Onamia, Minnesota. Susanne’s research interest is the selective and developmental forces that have shaped the anatomical details of hominin teeth. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Franklin & Marshall College and Mercyhurst University, respectively, and is originally from Dallastown, Pennsylvania.

Best 2014 Paper in Archaeology for the School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Simen Oestmo was awarded the Reynold Ruppe Prize in Archaeology by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. The Ruppe Prize is awarded each year to the best paper in archaeology by a graduate student at ASU. Simen’s paper is the "Digital Imaging Technology and Experimental Archaeology: A Methodological Framework for the Identification and Interpretation of Fire Modified Rock (FMR).” The paper appears in theJournal of Archaeological Scienceand was initially written as one of two papers for his Phase 1 master’s portfolio. Simen is using the award for funding computer equipment needed to collect data for his dissertation. Simen’s dissertation advisor is Curtis Marean, IHO Associate Director and Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Simen’s research interests include the Middle Stone Age in Africa’ the origins of modern human behavior during the Middle to Late Pleistocene; Optimal Foraging Theory; hunter-gatherer ecology: landscape use; stone tool technology: raw material selection; experimental archaeology; ancient use of fire: lithic heat-treatment and fire modified rock; geoarchaeology; quaternary paleosols; and geomorphology.

Undergraduate receives CLAS Dean’s Medal

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences annually selects graduating students for recognition with the Dean’s Medal. These high achieving students not only have high grad-point averages but also took full advantage of what ASU had to offer. School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) undergraduate Lawrence Fatica was advised by IHO Director and SHESC Professor Bill Kimbel for his honor’s thesis and received partial funding from the Institute of Human Origins to travel to the Smithsonian Institute and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History last year to gather data.

The Dean’s Medal award nomination states, “Lawrence has taken a range of courses across evolutionary anthropology, including courses in human osteology, hominin evolution, bioarchaeology, anatomy/physiology evolutionary ecology, and has aced them all. In discussions with Lawrence, he clearly demonstrates the ability to draw upon multiple avenues of inquiry, as evidenced by his desire to research questions that merge functional anatomy, ontogeny, energetics, and life history.  In other words, he already thinks, and approaches questions, from the same multidisciplinary perspective that defines some of the most compelling research in our discipline today.”

Lawrence has been accepted as a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at George Washington University beginning fall 2014.