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Melanie Beasley

Melanie Beasley

Assistant Professor // Anthropology

Assistant Professor // Cornerstone

Office and Contact

Room: STON B7

Office hours: Fall 2021, By appointment virtually


Phone: (765) 496-3597

Melanie Beasley received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 2016. From 2017-2019, she was a Haslam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville conducting research at the Forensic Anthropology Center. Dr. Beasley will be joining the Purdue University faculty in Fall 2019.


Biological anthropology, human-environment interactions, stable isotope ecology, paleoanthropology, human evolution, bioarchaeology, prehistoric diet and health, forensic anthropology, stable isotope forensics for predicting region-of-origin, human versus non-human bone identification, and decomposition/post-mortem interval estimation.

Dr. Beasley’s work focuses broadly on human-environment interactions throughout the hominin lineage when the environment is influencing our evolutionary history, in the Holocene when humans are influencing the availability of prey resources, and in modern forensic contexts when the environment imprints meaningful geolocation information in biological tissues. She uses stable isotope geochemistry to connect humans and the environment they live in to understand changing climate, resource availability, and life history. Dr. Beasley’s scholarship in paleoanthropology, bioarchaeology, and forensics can be summed up as tackling humanity’s grand challenge through a “right to know”. The right of all humanity to understand how a changing climate has shaped our evolutionary history. The right of descendant communities to use modern analytical methods to learn about prehistoric lifeways. The right of victim’s families to know what happened to their loved ones, the right to have remains returned to families for final disposition, and the right for justice against mass atrocities of genocide. The use of stable isotope geochemistry and the big data generated by such an analytical method in anthropology has only scratched the surface of what it can offer to the discipline and it’s contributions to humanity’s grand challenges. Through her research she sees the Anthropology of Tomorrow as an interdisciplinary blending of the social and natural sciences in an applied approach that makes anthropology relevant to living communities.

At Purdue, Dr. Beasley directs the Bioanth Isotope Ecology Research Laboratory (BIER Lab). Please contact her via email if you are interested in working in the lab as an undergraduate or for enquires about graduate student training. Dr. Beasley is accepting applications for future MA/PhD students.

Six Most Important Publications

2019 Beasley MM, Schoeninger MJ. (Re)discovering Ancient Hominin Environments: How Stable Carbon Isotopes of Modern Chimpanzee Communities Can Inform Paleoenvironment Reconstruction. In: Lee SH and Willermet C, editors. (Re)Discovery of the Strange and Familiar: Theory and Methods for a 21st Century Biological Anthropology. Cambridge Press.

2018 Bartelink EJ, Berg G, Chesson LA, Tipple B, Beasley MM, Prince-Buienhuys JR, MacInnes H, MacKinnon AT, Latham KE. Chapter 15 – Applications of Stable Isotope Forensics for Geolocating Unidentified Human Remains from Past Conflict Situations and Large-Scale Humanitarian Efforts. In: Latham K, Bartelink EJ, Finnegan M, editors. New Perspectives in Forensic Human Skeletal Identification. Elsevier Academic Press pp. 175-184.

2016 Jaouen K, Beasley MM, Schoeninger MJ, Hublin JJ, Richards MP. Zinc isotope ratios of bones and teeth as new dietary indicators: results from a modern food web (Koobi Fora, Kenya). Scientific Reports 6:26281.

2014 Beasley MM, Bartelink EJ, Taylor LL, Miller RM. Comparison of transmission FTIR, ATR, and DRIFT: Implications for assessment of diagenesis of bone. J Archaeol Sci. 46:16-22.

2014 Bartelink EJ, Berg GE, Beasley MM, Chesson LA. Application of stable isotope forensics for predicting region-of-origin of human remains from past wars and conflicts. Annals of Anthropological Practice, special volume (invited): “Practicing Forensic Anthropology: A Human Rights Approach to the Global Problem of Missing and Unidentified Persons”. 38(1):124-136.

2013 Beasley MM, Martinez AM, Simons DD, Bartelink EJ. Paleodietary analysis of a San Francisco Bay area shellmound: stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of late Holocene humans from the Ellis Landing site (CA-CCO-295). J Archaeol Sci.40:2084-2094.

Extramural Grant Support

2018 (PI) A New Multi-Stable Isotope Approach to Increase the Predictability of Determining Region-of-Origin for Human Biological Tissues; (Forensic Sciences Foundation Lucas Research Grant; $6,000)

2017 Research fellowship funding, Haslam Family Endowment, University of Tennessee, Knoxville ($30,000)

2013 (PI) Paleoenvironment and seasonal variation in rainfall at Allia Bay, Kenya 3.97 MA; (Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant; $19,940)

2012 (PI) Intra-annual variation and paleoenvironments of hominin bipeds at 3.9Ma Allia Bay, Kenya; (Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research; $1,000)

2010 (PI) Paleodietary Reconstruction of Spatial and Temporal Change in the Prehistoric San Francisco Bay Area: Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Analysis at the Ryan Mound; (James A. Bennyhoff Award from Society of California Archaeology; $1000, 4 AMS date, 50 obsidian sourcing)

Service to the Anthropology Committee

2019-2020 Ad Hoc Committee on Media & Communication, AAPA

2018 Program Committee, AAPA

2016-2018 Student Representative, Biological Anthropology Section of AAA

2015-2016 Student Liaison to the Executive Committee, AAPA

2012 Local Arrangements Chair, Society for California Archaeology Annual Meeting

2009-2016 Chair of the Student Affairs Committee, Society for California Archaeology

Academic Awards/Fellowships

2017-19 Haslam Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

2016 AAPA Student Paper Award Honorable Mention (book prize)

2015 UCSD President’s Dissertation Year Diversity Fellowship

2011 Student Paper Award, Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting in Sacramento

2011-13 Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA) Fellowship, UCSD

2009-11 San Diego Diversity Fellowship, UCSD

2008 Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award, CSU Chico

2008 Outstanding Student Paper Award, Society for California Archaeology Annual Meeting, Burbank, CA