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Anthropology | Shannon Tushingham

Ph.D., University of California-Davis
Associate Professor
Director, Museum of Anthropology
Director, Tushingham Laboratory

Registered Professional Archaeologist 415450



I am an anthropological archaeologist with research broadly centered on human autonomy and human-environmental dynamics in North America. I employ archaeological science, historical ecology, and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) frameworks, to explore human behavior and use of varied ecosystems over deep time, into the present day.

I work within a research framework that encompasses varied approaches and contexts—for instance, collections research is integrated with field studies, modern analytical techniques and theory, collaborative archaeology, and regional synthesis. I am committed to ethical research practices and partnerships with Native American and First Nations Tribes and emphasize study outcomes that serve communities and are relevant to global understandings of human autonomy, health, and well-being. My laboratory is built around a foundation of high-impact research (my own, as well as that of graduate students, partners, and other researchers) that draws on significant collections and is achieved through internships, outreach activities, and collaborative projects with indigenous communities.

Human Autonomy

My lab and working group works on varied projects that broadly concern human autonomy and human-environmental dynamics. Current research projects are diverse and include investigations of subsistence autonomy and resilience, food safety and security, storage diversity, women/ household leadership and decision-making, ancestral food systems and modern health, the evolution of psychoactive plant use, and equity and multivocality in STEM. A major focus of my research involves studies of complex food systems and storage among hunting, gathering, and fishing communities.

Current studies largely relate to three general research priorities:

Resilient Communities: Human-Environmental Dynamics in Western North America: This area of study involves explorations of the breadth, diversity, and dynamics of food storage systems, women’s decision making, mobility and sedentism, subsistence autonomy, and implications of paleo-environment, climate change, and varied social circumstances. A major research commitment is the project, “First Peoples-First Foods: Ancestral Diet Science to Build and Maintain Resilience and Sustainable Food Security Solutions for Indigenous Communities,” which deals with ways in which archaeological and historical data can intersect with Tribal and indigenous community needs and modern health issues. Affiliated research draws on ecological and indigenous frameworks and is articulated in the study, “Beyond Processors: Leadership, Risk, and Decision-Making Among Women in Anarchic Societies,” which explores how social, subsistence, and political autonomy is maintained among anarchic hunting, gathering, and fishing societies, in particular the critical (yet oft overlooked) role of women’s leadership and decision-making in the development and persistence in heterarchical systems.

Psychoactive Plants Project: The Psychoactive Plants Project is a multi-year NSF-funded multidisciplinary program that investigates the antiquity of human interactions with psychoactive plants: We are currently working on the second phase of the project, The Biomolecular Archaeology of Psychoactive Plants: Expanding Frontiers in Ancient Metabolomics and Dental Calculus Studies, which focuses on further refining methods and applying methods to the analysis of residues on ancient human dental calculus. Interdisciplinary metabolomics research centers on the projects, Drug Use and Oral Health: Periodontal Effects and Persistence of Psychoactive Biomarkers in Ancient and Modern Human Dental Health involves analysis of dental calculus of modern marijuana, tobacco, and other drug users to better understand the effects of drug use on human teeth and dynamics of preservation of calcified plaque, as well as A Cross-Population Metabolomics-Based Approach to Sex and Age-Based Biases in Cannabis Use in Its Connection to Human Health, which examines five global populations to investigate cannabis use and health outcomes.

Collaboration, equity and multivocality in archaeology: Research on equity and the dissemination of knowledge addresses persistent inequities in publishing among other topics. I and my co-investigators advocate for multi-vocality in STEM and explore ways of actively changing disciplinary and structural frameworks that will provide avenues for women and underrepresented groups.   I work within an ethic of collaboration and engagement with Tribal people and local communities, which is reflected in both my practice and publications. Collaborative research with Tribal partners and includes research designed to mitigate food security issues and foster the resilience and health by improving access to/ knowledge about traditional ecological knowledge, ancestral foods/ medicines, and environmental stewardship practices. Research is based in interior Northwest North America and has implications for global Indigenous communities and includes research on legacy collections, archival and oral history research, and fieldwork. This includes the Archaeological Field School in Indigenous Collaboration, Landscapes, and Heritage Management, which is designed to fill a gap for the next generation of archaeologists and heritage professionals who seek training in modern field and laboratory methods and collaborative research practices.

For more information about these projects please visit the Tushingham Lab page.

Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers

Postdoctoral Researchers: Dr. Molly Carney (Washington Research Fellow), Dr. Tiffany Fulkerson (First Foods Researcher), Dr. Mario Zimmermann (NSF Postdoc)

Current graduate students: William Damitio (Ph.D., Chair), Elliot Helmer (Ph.D., Chair), Jiw (Piyawit) Moonkham (Ph.D., Chair), Tara McLaughlin (MA, Chair), Tiffany Kite (MA, Chair)

Graduated:  Molly Carney (Ph.D., Chair), Tiffany Fulkerson (Ph.D., Chair), Nichole Fournier (Ph.D., Chair), Elliot Helmer (M.A., Chair), Andrew Frierson (M.A., Chair), William Damitio (M.A., Chair), Charles Snyder (Ph.D., Committee), Kevin Feeney (Ph.D., Committee), Andy Tremaine (Ph.D., Committee- UC Davis)

Student research

I work with a team of exceptional students who work on a range of research topics. Opportunities for graduate students include masters and dissertation level studies that contribute to my lab and working group’s research. NOTE: I am unable to take new students at this time. 



Undergraduate Courses
Salmon and People, Time and Culture in the Northwest, Archaeological Method and Interpretation, Archaeological Field School

Graduate Courses

Experimental Archaeology and Residue Analysis, Historical Ecology and Archaeology of Western North America, Cultural Resource Management

Representative publications

Carney, Molly, Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, Shannon Tushingham (in review). Bulbs and Biographies, Pine nuts and Palimpsests: Exploring Plant Diversity and Earth Oven Reuse at a Late Period Plateau Site. Anthropological and Archaeological Sciences.

Fulkerson, Tiffany, Shannon Tushingham (2021) Geophyte Field Processing, Storage, and Women’s Decision Making in Hunter-Gatherer Societies: An Archaeological Case Study from Western North America. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Zimmermann, Mario, Shannon Tushingham (in press). The Biomolecular Archaeology of Psychoactive Substances. In Handbook of Archaeological Sciences, Second Edition, edited by D.R. Brothwell and A.M. Pollard.

Tushingham, Shannon, Loukas Barton, and Robert L. Bettinger (2021) How ancestral subsistence strategies solve salmon starvation and the “protein problem” of Pacific Rim resources. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Carney, Molly G, Shannon Tushingham, Tara McLaughlin, Jade d’Alpoim Guedes (2021). Harvesting strategies as evidence for 4,000 years of camas (Camassia quamash) management in the North American Columbia Plateau. Royal Science Open Science.

Damitio, William J., Shannon Tushingham, Korey J. Brownstein, and David R. Gang
(2021) The Evolution of Smoking and Intoxicant Plant Use in Ancient Northwestern North America. American Antiquity.

Zimmermann, Mario, Korey J. Brownstein, Luis R. Pantoja Diaz, Illiana Ancona Aragón, Scott Hutson, Barry Kidder, Shannon Tushingham, David R. Gang (2021) Metabolomics-based analysis of miniature flask contents identified tobacco mixture use among the ancient Maya. Scientific Reports 11:1590

Fulkerson, Tiffany and Shannon Tushingham (2021) Cultural Heritage and the Expropriation and Appropriation of Indigenous Knowledge, Materials, and Lands: Collaboration and Communication Considerations for Land-Grant Institutions. In How Do We Reach More? Sharing Cultural and Archaeological Research with Others, J. Northwest Anthropology Special Publication 4, edited by Darby C. Stapp and Julie Longenecker, pp. 221-232.

Tushingham, Shannon (2021) Aquatic Hunter-Gatherer-Fishers: Evolutionary Frameworks in Northeast Pacific Rim Archaeology. In Evolutionary Archaeology at the Coastal Margins: Theoretical Approaches to Prehistoric Coastal Adaptations, Society and Ecology in Island and Coastal Archaeology Series, Edited by Heather B. Thakar and Carola Flores-Fernandez. University of Florida Press. In Press.

Tushingham, Shannon and Tiffany Fulkerson (2021) Public Archaeology Education “Of the People, For the People, By the People”: Democratized Science Communication in Theory and Practice. In How Do We Reach More? Sharing Cultural and Archaeological Research with Others, J. Northwest Anthropology Special Publication 4, edited by Darby C. Stapp and Julie Longenecker, pp. 188-207.

Brownstein, Korey J., Shannon Tushingham, William J. Damitio, Tung Nguyen, David R. Gang (2020) An ancient residue metabolomics-based method to distinguish use of closely related plant species in ancient pipes. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences.

Tushingham, Shannon (2020) The Ordered Anarchy Frontier: Storage, Sedentism, and the Evolution of Plank House Villages in the Southern Pacific Northwest Coast. Cowboy Ecology: Essays in Honor of R.L Bettinger, edited by Michael G. Delacorte, Terry L. Jones, and Roshanne S. Bakhtiary, pp. 49-69. Center for Archaeological Research at Davis Monograph 19.

Tushingham, Shannon, and Tiffany Fulkerson (2020) Who Writes the Past? The Evolving Gender and Professional Landscape of Great Basin Archaeology (1954–2018). In: With Grit and Determination: A Century of Change for Women in Great Basin and American Archaeology, edited by Suzanne Eskenazi and Nicole M. Herzog. University of Utah Press.

Tushingham, Shannon, Jelmer W. Eerkens, Anna Berim, Korey J. Brownstein, and David R. Gang (2020) Age and Gender Dynamics of Tobacco Use: Residue Analysis of Dental Calculus and Archaeological Pipes. In Protohistoric Village Organization and Territorial Maintenance: The Archaeology of Síi Túupentak (CA-ALA-565/H) in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Brian F. Byrd, Laurel Engbring, Michael Darcangelo and Allika Ruby, pp. 345-358. Center for Archaeological Research at Davis Monograph 20.

Hagen, Edward H., Shannon Tushingham (2019)  The prehistory of psychoactive drug use. In Cognitive Archaeology: Psychology in Pre-History, Edited by Tracy B. Henley, Matthew Rossano and Edward Kardas. Routledge, New York.

Fulkerson, Tiffany, Shannon Tushingham (2019) Who dominates the discourses of the past? Gender, occupational affiliation, and multivocality in North American archaeology publishing. American Antiquity 84(3):379-399.

Fulkerson, Tiffany, Shannon Tushingham (2019) Writing and Publishing in Anthropology: Voices, Insights, and Disciplinary Trends. Journal of Northwest Anthropology 53(1).

Stapp, Darby, Julia G. Longenecker, Tiffany J. Fulkerson, and Shannon Tushingham (Editors) (2019) Why Don’t We Write More? Essays On Writing and Publishing Anthropological Research. JONA special reprint. Northwest Anthropology LLC, Richland, Washington.

Gillreath-Brown, Andrew, Aaron Deter-Wolf, Karen R. Adams, Valerie Lynch-Holm, Samantha Fulgham, Shannon Tushingham, William D. Lipe, R. G. Matson (2019) Rise of Tattooing in the Neolithic Demographic Transition: A 2000-year-old Tattoo tool from Utah. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Tushingham, Shannon, Charles M. Snyder, Korey J. Brownstein, William J. Damitio, David R. Gang. (2018). Biomolecular archaeology reveals ancient origins of indigenous tobacco smoking in North American Plateau. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

Tushingham, Shannon, Justin Hopt , Colin Christiansen , Loren Bommelyn, John Green, Michael Peterson, Suntayea Steinruck, Crista Stewart (2019) In the Footsteps of Amelia Brown: Collaborative Historical Ecology at Shin-yvslh-sri~, a Tolowa Village on the North Coast of California. Journal of Coastal and Island Archaeology 14(1):1-25.

Palmer, Erica, Shannon Tushingham, and Brian Kemp (2018). Human Use of Small Forage Fish: Improved Ancient DNA Species Identification Techniques Reveal Long Term Record of Sustainable Mass Harvesting of Smelt Fishery in the Northeast Pacific Rim.  Journal of Archaeological Science 99:143-152.

Damitio, William, Andrew Gilreath-Brown, and Shannon Tushingham (2018) Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Spatial Database to Enhance Potential of Legacy Collections at the Washington State University Museum of AnthropologyJournal of Northwest Anthropology 52(2).

Tushingham, Shannon, and Robert L. Bettinger (2019) Storage Defense: Expansive and Intensive Territorialism in Hunter-Gatherer Delayed Return Economies. Quaternary International 518:21-30tushpsg-396x521

Eerkens, Jelmer W., Shannon Tushingham, Korey J. Brownstein, Ramona Garibay, Katherine Perez, Engel Murga, Philip Kaijankoski, Jeffrey Rosenthal, David R. Gang (2018). Dental Calculus as a Source of Ancient Alkaloids: Detection of Nicotine by LC-MS in Calculus Samples from the Americas. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports.

Tushingham, Shannon, Tiffany Fulkerson, and Katheryn Hill (2017)  The Peer Review Gap: A Longitudinal Case Study of Gendered Publishing and Occupational Patterns in a Female-Rich Discipline (1974-2016). PLOS ONE.

Anderson, Shelby, Shannon Tushingham, and Tammy Buonasera (2017) Aquatic Adaptations and the Adoption of Arctic Pottery Technology: Results of Residue Analysis. American Antiquity 82(3): 452-479.

Morgan, Christopher, Shannon Tushingham, Raven Garvey, Loukas Barton and Robert L. Bettinger (2017) Hunter Gatherer Economies in the Old World and the New World. In: Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Environment. Oxford Press, Oxford, England.

Tushingham, Shannon, and Richard Brooks (2017) Inland Sanctuary: A synergistic study of indigenous persistence, colonial entanglements, and multi-ethnic households at Hiouchi (Xaa-yuu-chit). Oregon Historical Quarterly 117(1):108-139.

Lantier, Harrison, and Shannon Tushingham (2017) Newly Discovered Studio Photographs of Revolutionary Anthropologist Llewellyn Lemont Loud. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 37(1).

Elizabeth Bollwerk and Shannon Tushingham, editors (2016). Perspectives_on_the_Archaeology_of_PipesPerspectives on the Archaeology of Pipes, Tobacco and other Smoke Plants in the Ancient Americas. Springer Press.

Tushingham, Shannon, Janet P. Eidsness, Tiffany Fulkerson, Justin Hopt, Colin Christiansen, Angela Arpaia, and Julilani Chang (2016). Late Holocene Coastal Intensification, Mass Harvest Fishing, and the Historical Ecology of Marine Estuaries: The view from the Manila Site (CA-HUM-321), Humboldt Bay, Northwestern Alta California. California Archaeology 8(1):1-35.

Tushingham, Shannon and Eerkens, Jelmer. Hunter-Gatherer Tobacco Smoking in Ancient North America: Current Chemical Evidence and a Framework for Future Studies (2016). In Perspectives on the Archaeology of Pipes, Tobacco and other Smoke Plants in the Ancient Americas, edited by Elizabeth Bollwerk and Shannon Tushingham. Springer Interdisciplinary Series in Archaeology

Bettinger, Robert L., Garvey, Raven and Tushingham, Shannon (2015) Bettinger Garvey Tushingham 2015 Hunter-Gatherers Second Edition frontmatterHunter-Gatherers: Archaeology and Evolutionary Theory 2nd edition. Springer Press.

Tushingham, Shannon and Colin Christiansen (2015). Native American Fisheries of Northwestern California and Southwestern Oregon: A Synthesis of Fish Bone Data and Implications for Late Holocene Storage and Socio-Economic Organization, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 35(2):189-215.

Collins, Mary and Shannon Tushingham (2014) Exploring the Future of Archaeology on the Plateau: The 2014 Washington State University Museum of Anthropology Plateau Conference. SAA Record.

Tushingham, Shannon (2015) Tobacco. In The Archaeology of Food: An Encyclopedia, edited by Mary Beaudry and Karen Metheny. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland.

Whitaker, Adrian, and Shannon Tushingham (2014) A Quantitative Assessment of Ethnographically Identified Activity Areas at the Point Saint George Site (CA-DNO-11) and the Validity of Ethnographic Analogy. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 34(1): 1-15.

Tushingham, Shannon, and Robert L. Bettinger (2013) Why Foragers Choose Acorns before Salmon: Storage, Mobility, and Risk in Aboriginal California. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32:527-537.

Tushingham, Shannon (2014) Miniature Treasure: Geochemical Sourcing Indicates Socio-ceremonial Significance of an Obsidian Biface from the Red Elderberry Site (CA-DNO-26), Northwestern tushpub1-396x509Alta California. California Archaeology 6(1): 132-136.

Whitaker, Adrian, and Shannon Tushingham (2014) A Quantitative Assessment of Ethnographically Identified Activity Areas at the Point Saint George Site (CA-DNO-11) and the Validity of Ethnographic Analogy. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 34(1).

Tushingham, Shannon, Dominique Ardura, Jelmer Eerkens, Mine Palazoglu, Sevini Shahbaz, and Oliver Fiehn (2013) Hunter-Gatherer Tobacco Smoking: Earliest Evidence from the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Journal of Archaeological Science40(2):1397-1407.

Tushingham, Shannon and Jennifer Bencze (2013) Macro and Micro Scale Signatures of Hunter-Gatherer Organization at the Coastal Sites of Point St. George, Northwestern Alta California. California Archaeology 5(1):37-77.

Tushingham, Shannon (2013) Archaeology, Ethnography, and Tolowa Heritage at Red Elderberry Place, Chvn-su’lh-dvn, Jedediah tushpub2Smith Redwoods State Park. California Department of Parks and Recreation Archaeology, History and Museums Division, Publication Number 30. Sacramento.

Tushingham, Shannon, Amy Spurling and Timothy R. Carpenter (2013) The Sweetwater Site: Archaeological Recognition of Surf Fishing and Temporary Smelt Camps on the North Coast of California. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 33(1).

Eerkens, Jelmer, Shannon Tushingham, Kari Lentz, Jennifer Blake, Dominique Ardura, Mine Palazoglu, and Oliver Fiehn (2012) GC-MS Analysis of Residues Reveals Nicotine in Two Late Prehistoric Pipes from CA-ALA-554. Proceedings of the Society for California Archaeology 26:212-219.

Tushingham, Shannon, Charles H. McNutt, and Jane Hill, editors (2002) Histories of Southeastern Archaeology. University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa.









Contact Information

College Hall 130


Tushingham Lab

WSU Archaeological Field School 2023

Psychoactive plant research