Meet Our New Faculty

John Blong.

John Blong

My research examines the interaction between hunter-gatherers and the environment in prehistoric North America, with a focus on the peopling of the Americas and human use of marginal ecosystems. My broad research goal is to investigate initial human adaptation to the varied ecological landscapes across North America, and human response to subsequent environmental change. I am an environmental archaeologist, and my research is grounded in archaeological science. I use geoarchaeological and paleoecological methods to provide environmental context for interpreting past human behavior, and lithic artifact and paleoethnobotanical analyses to investigate human subsistence strategies and land-use patterns.

I received my PhD from Texas A&M University, where my research focused on human adaptive strategies in high-altitude ecosystems in central Alaska. My dissertation investigated upland ecology and human land-use strategies through the analysis of lithic, sediment, pollen, and plant macrofossil records. I worked as postdoctoral research associate at Newcastle University, United Kingdom, where my research focused on prehistoric foodways and human adaptation to arid landscapes in the Great Basin through analysis of macroscopic and microscopic plant remains in human coprolites. I also have many years of experience in cultural resource management, and I have worked at various sites across the United States in this capacity. At WSU I will continue my research programs in Alaska and the Great Basin, engaging undergraduate and graduate students in field and laboratory analysis. I will teach undergraduate classes on the archaeology of North America and climate change, as well as graduate classes on past human use of plants, and analysis of archaeological soils and sediments. I am happy to be joining the Department of Anthropology and I am excited to build collaborations with faculty and students!

Elizabeth Chilton.

Elizabeth Chilton

My research specialties include the archaeology of Northeast North America, hunter-gatherers, the origins of agriculture, ceramic ecology, geoarchaeology, heritage studies, and cultural resource management. I am the provost at Washington State University and a professor in the Department of Anthropology, and based in Pullman.

Nanda Grow.

Nanda Grow

I am an evolutionary and behavioral ecologist broadly interested in how natural selective pressures shape the behavior and biology of primates. I am most interested in answering questions about the ecological, anatomical, social, and genetic context for primate adaptations, especially in rapidly changing marginal and human-modified environments. The bulk of my fieldwork has been in Sulawesi, Indonesia; the biogeography of this large island reflects great diversity in plants and animals, including primate populations. My PhD was granted from Texas A&M University; my dissertation research focused on altitudinal influences on Sulawesi-dwelling tarsiers, a unique group of small-bodied and nocturnal primates that belong to the evolutionary branch that includes monkeys and apes. My postdoctoral research through Oxford Brookes University examined the adaptive significance of venom usage among lorises in Java, Indonesia. My current research explores processes of diversification in haplorrhine primates, with an emphasis on energetic constraints to adaptation, bioacoustic behavior, and phylogenetic relationships.

Before moving to Pullman, I was on faculty in the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology at Utah State University since 2014. At WSU, I am teaching a course on primate behavior and evolution and a course that examines human variation and social race concepts. I’m excited to be joining the Evolutionary Stream in the Department of Anthropology at WSU, and I look forward to forging connections across the department and university.

Rachel A. Horowitz.

Rachel A. Horowitz

I am an anthropological archaeologist whose research focuses on past economic organization. My main research focus is on Classic period Maya (AD 200-800) economic organization as seen through the lens of lithic technology. Using organizational approaches to lithic assemblages, I explore the role of different actors in Maya economies. Before coming to WSU, I taught at Appalachian State University and Tulane University, where I received my PhD.

Since 2011 I have conducted research in western Belize. I explored a lithic quarry and production area, Callar Creek Quarry, finding that small-scale producers operated independently from elite leaders in the region, and that they exchanged the goods they produced through a variety of economic mechanisms. My ongoing research in Belize takes a regional approach to lithic economies, examining other lithic production areas, ritual lithic deposits, and household production activities.

In addition to my research in Belize, I am involved in two projects in the Peten region of Guatemala. These projects provide an opportunity for interregional comparison and will allow me to develop a multi-sited perspective on Classic period Maya lithic economies. Evaluating the similarities and differences in these economies will provide evidence for the causes of variation within Maya economic organization.

Methodologically, I use a variety of analytical techniques to examine lithic artifacts including detailed attribute analyses, experimental archaeology, use wear, and sourcing. I am currently investigating the utility of various sourcing methods for chert sources in the Maya lowlands.

Michael Sugerman.

Michael Sugerman

I followed a roundabout path on the way to anthropology. My interest in ancient cultures began with undergraduate research into the ancient Near East via religious studies (BA Brown University), where I discovered archaeology. I investigated that avenue further with a master’s degree in West Asian archaeology (University of London) and another master’s in Near East languages and civilizations (Harvard University). Eventually, I realized that I was most curious about the underlying political-economic structures in the cultures I was studying, so I shifted across the street and got my PhD in anthropology (Harvard University).

Over the past 30 years, I have done fieldwork around the eastern Mediterranean while investigating production and trade among the Bronze Age and Iron Age cultures of the region (Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus, and Greece). Although I have trained and advised a number of graduate students, my focus has always been on undergraduate education, and my excavation projects are usually designed as field schools.

I am currently on the faculty of a field school in Akko, Israel, where we are excavating a major port city on the Mediterranean coast that was the center of a Phoenician kingdom and that has been one of the most culturally diverse cities in the Middle East, historically and right up to the present day. I and my research team are all looking forward to a future in which we can get back to doing fieldwork and bringing new students into archaeological anthropology through field studies.