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Faculty Profiles


Myrdene Anderson, Professor

Dr. Anderson is best known for the research among Saami reindeer-breeders in Norwegian Lapland that commenced in 1971 and continues to date. She also pursues ethnography in a variety of settings, from community gardening to the transdisciplinary artificial life movement in biology.  Her publications include edited volumes on human-alloanimal ethology, on ethnicity and identity, on semiotic modeling, on the cultural construction of trash, on mathematics education, on violence, and on the Peircean concept of “habit”.

Melanie Beasley, Assistant Professor

As a biological anthropologist, Dr. Beasley is broadly interested in human-environment interactions of the past and present. She uses stable isotope geochemistry in innovative ways to connect humans and the environments in which they live to understand changing climate, resource availability, and life history. Her research projects in East Africa, California, Jordan, and Italy span the last 4 million years of time. Aside from her paleoanthropological and bioarchaeological scholarship, Beasley also uses stable isotope analysis for forensic applications to aid in identification of unknown human remains and determine time since death.

Sherylyn Briller, Professor

Dr. Sherylyn  Briller is a cultural medical anthropologist specializing in aging, disability, end-of-life issues, and global health. She has conducted research in Mongolia and the United States. She is a Faculty Associate in the Center on Aging and the Life Course. Her professional interests also extend to anthropologists’ education, career development, and interdisciplinary collaboration. She has taken a leading role in developing the new Master’s track in Applied and Practicing Anthropology at Purdue.

Michele Buzon, Professor

Dr. Buzon is a bioarchaeologist whose research focuses on the excavation and analysis of burials in the ancient Nile Valley (Egypt and Nubia). Dr. Buzon has an active field site at Tombos, Sudan. Through the examination of human skeletal remains and mortuary practices, she examines the effects of Nubian-Egyptian contact on identity and health during the New Kingdom and Napatan periods.

Kory Cooper, Associate Professor

Dr. Cooper uses a Behavioral Archaeology framework to examine technological innovation and culture change past and present. One of his primary research foci has been the archaeometallurgical investigation of Pre-Contact copper innovation in the North American Arctic, Subarctic and Northwest Coast. Related to this topic, Cooper’s research also examines the Post-Contact adoption of trade metals and metallurgy in these culture areas. He is also currently participating in interdisciplinary research on the consumption and discard of electronics (e-waste). He has conducted fieldwork in Alaska, California, Jordan, and Sudan. Additional research interests include materials analysis, experimental archaeology, hunter-gatherers, the fur trade, historical metallurgy, public archaeology, and education.

Risa Cromer, Assistant Professor

Dr. Cromer is an anthropologist of biomedicine and feminist science and technologies scholar whose research investigates the intersections of reproductive medicine, technologies, and politics in the United States. Her current works brings ethnographic attention to bioethical, legal, and political controversies concerning the fates of frozen human embryos left over from in vitro fertilization procedures. Her field sites span medical clinics, research laboratories, service agencies, and social movement organizations, among others. Intersectional analyses of the inextricable ties between gender, race, disability, sexuality, and class are fundamental to her scholarship, mentorship, and teaching. In her applied work, she contributes to team research projects on mental health services for veterans and grassroots efforts around reproductive justice.

Dada Docot, Assistant Professor

Dr. Docot is a cultural anthropologist whose works center on Filipino overseas migration. Her current book project presents an ethnographic account of everyday life in the so-called “Town of Dollars,” her hometown located in the Southeast part of Luzon Island, Philippines, that has been radically changed by overseas mobilities. She is committed to expanding conversations on the postcolonial condition that is fatigued by multiple histories of colonization, enduring precarity, and growing global inequality. While at New York University Shanghai, Dada began her research on Filipino teachers in China in the context of the changing relationship between China and the Philippines.

Andrew Flachs, Associate Professor

Dr. Flachs researches food and agriculture systems, exploring the spread of genetically modified crops, heirloom seeds and local ecologies, alternative agriculture, and small-scale food security including fermentation and seed-saving.  His work among farmers in North America, the Balkans, and South India investigates ecological knowledge and technological change in agricultural systems spanning Cleveland urban gardens, Bosnian kitchens, and Indian GM cotton fields.  At Purdue, he is a member of the Advanced Methodologies Cluster and teaches graduate courses on qualitative social science and environmental anthropology.


Ian Lindsay, Associate Professor

Dr. Lindsay has conducted research in northwestern Armenia since 2000 investigating the origins of political complexity, landscapes as media for political authority, and households and community formation in the Late Bronze Age. Analytical methods of interest include chemical characterization techniques to examine the flow of goods in and out of the Tsaghkahovit Plain, and he has recently initiated a geophysical survey of fortress settlements to gauge the intensity of occupation during the LBA.

Stacy Lindshield, Assistant Professor

Dr. Lindshield’s research investigates how and why foraging behavior reflects the sociopolitical strategies of female chimpanzees in savanna-woodland environments. Professor Lindshield has active research projects in Senegal at Mount Assirik in Niokolo-Koba National Park and Fongoli. Her current work addresses nutritional facets of hunting, meat eating, and meat sharing behaviors. In addition, Lindshield assesses the impact of gold mining on biological corridors and chimpanzee health in Senegal, and evaluates biological corridor networks for the conservation and management of Costa Rican primates.

Zoe Nyssa, Assistant Professor

Dr. Nyssa is a cultural/environmental anthropologist studying the relationships between knowledge practices, governance, and distributive questions of risk and justice. Using mixed method and multi-sited approaches, her current work tracks the emergence and contemporary practices of conservation science in order to evaluate their impact globally on human and non-human life. She has conducted research at leading conservation projects in the U.S., Europe, and Ecuador.

Erik Otárola-Castillo, Assistant Professor

Dr. Otárola-Castillo is an archaeologist, human evolutionary biologist, and biometrician. His research revolves around the question: “What do people eat and why?” To answer it, Dr. Otárola-Castillo studies the diversity, ecology, evolution, and co-evolution of behavioral phenotypes in prehistoric and modern foraging populations. Currently, Dr. Otárola-Castillo is interested in evaluating the effects that climatic change, the variation of food-availability and-distribution had on the diet of some of the first forager populations across the North American Great Plains.

As a biometrician and computational anthropologist, he develops quantitative tools to answer questions in the context of the major dimensions of archaeological research: space, time and form. To this end, Dr. Otárola-Castillo develops and implements optimal foraging models, 3D-morphometrics software, and statistical software for human evolutionary biologists and zooarchaeologists, spatio-temporal statistical models, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)."

Melissa Remis, Professor and Head

Dr. Remis’ research in the Central African Republic focuses on integrated biological, cultural and environmental anthropological approaches to human-animal relationships, nutrition, and health among BaAka foragers, and conservation.  She is currently studying multispecies entanglements and interdependence in Congo Basin forests. She has also conducted research on the feeding ecology of western gorillas and designed experimental zoo-based research on the evolution of feeding strategies among African apes.

Sarah Renkert, Assistant Professor

Sarah RenkertDr. Sarah Renkert is an applied cultural anthropologist specializing in community-based participatory research, critical food studies, and political economy. Renkert’s current research focuses on the politics of food aid and community organization in Huaycán, Lima, Peru. She has also researched food security, diaper need, community-owned tourism, and Indigenous land protection and representation in the U.S. Southwest and the Ecuadorian Amazon. At Purdue, Renkert is working with the Space for Practice Lab, which serves as a campus and community center for collaborative anthropological praxis.

Kali Rubaii, Assistant Professor

Kali Rubaii is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University, interested in sharpening resistance strategies that target the vulnerable nexus between coercive power and the physical world.
Her research explores the environmental impacts of less-than-lethal militarism, and how military projects (re)arrange political ecologies in the name of “letting live.” Her book project, Counter-resurgency, examines how farmers in Anbar, Iraq struggle to survive and recover from transnational counterinsurgency projects.
She is currently conducting fieldwork for two ethnographic projects: Taking toxicity as an analytic for material politics, she is working with a team of doctors, epidemiologists, and environmental activists to document the links between the epidemic of birth defects in Fallujah and military environmental damage. She is also researching the corporate-military enterprise of concrete production in post-invasion Iraq and how it enforces global regimes of class and citizenship.

Natali Valdez, Assistant Professor

Natali ValdezDr. Valdez is a medical anthropologist and science and technology scholar who studies how race, gender, and power are enveloped into scientific knowledge production. Using qualitative and ethnographic methods,  she draws from Black feminism and postcolonial feminist science studies to explore the entanglements between science and society. Her research areas include reproduction, race/racism, environmental epigenetics, inter/transgenerational inheritance, clinical trials, big data, metabolic illness, and predictive medicine. Her book, Weighing the Future: Race, Science and Pregnancy Trials in the Postgenomic Era (University of California Press, 2022), is the first ethnography of ongoing pregnancy trials in the United States and United Kingdom. For more information on her teaching, research, and public events visit

Amanda Veile, Assistant Professor

Dr. Veile is a biological anthropologist who studies human reproductive and developmental biology using an evolutionary perspective. Since 2000, she has worked as a scientist on indigenous health projects in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Mexico.  Her ongoing research projects include 1) Documentation of birthing practices, breastfeeding patterns, and mother-child interactions; 2) Studies of growth and immuno-nutritional development of indigenous infants and children; and 3) Monitoring community health profiles in geographically isolated populations, to identify novel health challenges associated with globalization and modernization. 

Courtney WittekindAssistant Professor

Political anthropology, digital ethnography and media anthropology, science and technology studies, urbanization and agrarian change, temporality and future-making.

Laura Zanotti, Professor

Dr. Zanotti is a feminist political ecologist and interdisciplinary social scientist who partners with communities to support how Indigenous Peoples, Traditional Peoples, and Local Communities’ livelihoods and well-being can be sustained and to identify the pathways that shape just futures. Dr. Zanotti joined the Purdue Faculty in 2009 and is currently a Professor in the Department of Anthropology. She specializes in collaborative, transdisciplinary projects and cultivating ethnographic teams. She prioritizes decolonial approaches as a critical space for engagement.  In all of her work, she stitches together insights from critical data studies and visual anthropology to create collaborative and meaningful projects. She has a partnered with the Mebêngôkre-Kayapó Peoples, Brazil, for over fifteen years and is currently working on projects around the United States, in Latin America, and throughout the globe on media sovereignty, digital activism, environmental justice, and community resilience.