Sunday, December 26, 2010

Join the AAA Writers Circle

Recent controversies and concerns regarding the AAA LRP have brought to the fore the need for dissemination of our approaches and methods both within the anthropological community and out to the public. The AAA Writers Circle could be an excellent tool to promote that professional circulation and intellectual outreach.

What is the Writers Circle?

The AAA Writers Circle aims to engage the public on topics of central importance to anthropology through the publication of op-ed pieces, short magazine articles, and other short pieces in a variety of local, regional and national media outlets. The AAA Writers Circle aims to support professionals working on original, accessible writing by reading and giving feedback on this type of work.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Legal victory for adjuncts at Illinois university

Adjunct faculty at East-West University in Chicago who had their contracts pulled as a result of their attempts to unionize have been reinstated and have won guarantees of job protection for other employees who support unions:

"Under the terms of an agreement approved last week by a National Labor Relations Board official, the private university in Chicago has agreed to provide back pay and new job protections to five adjunct faculty members who were denied contract renewal last summer while leading an effort to unionize part-time faculty members there. The university has also agreed to publicly post notices announcing the agreement and assuring its other employees that they will not be subject to dismissal or other negative repercussions if they support a union drive."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Calling online anthropologists!

If you are 1) an anthropologist, 2) a blogger or are on Twitter, and 3) have been actively involved in the online discussion of the AAA LRP issue (aka #aaafail), please send me a message on Twitter @JNRutherford or an email. I'd like to talk to you! We want the AAA Executive Board to know how much the online anthropological community participated in shaping the conversation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

#aaafail in cartoon form!

Thanks to Daniel Lende for bringing this sad cartoon to my attention.

Section Assembly issues recommendations to AAA EB

Note: The Section Assembly of AAA is composed of all Section Chairs. The following statement of solidarity is a very welcome development.

"Dear all,

On behalf of the Section Assembly (SA), I’m pleased to submit the following resolution:

Because the SA represents all 38 sections of the AAA, it has a unique (and uniquely powerful) kind of voice. When we speak together, we have an authority that the Executive Board (EB) alone, or the Association as a whole, cannot match precisely because we represent the discipline in all its variety.

We have two issues which demand our attention, and together they clearly illustrate the challenges facing AAA. On the one hand is the revised wording of the Long Range Plan (LRP), which eliminates any reference to science. On the other we have the National Research Council (NRC) rankings, which—whatever their merits or flaws as rankings of individual programs—presume that Anthropology is a social science and hence only journal articles should be counted toward research productivity, with books and monographs not counted. One is perceived as turning its back on science, the other turns its back on anything except science narrowly defined.

Both are objectionable. Both humanistic and scientific approaches have characterized Anthropology from its inception, and this should be viewed as one of the discipline’s greatest scholarly strengths.

The Section Assembly unanimously rejects the NRC logic regarding publications as misguided and not reflective of any of the 38 sections comprising the AAA or the discipline as a whole. We take this as an opportunity to stand together and formally affirm that Anthropology includes and should include both scientific and humanistic modes of scholarship.

Second, and conversely, we unanimously ask the EB to revise the LRP to reflect the value of both scientific and humanistic approaches to the discipline. While doubtless the intention was to be inclusive, dropping science from the statement has the opposite effect. Few could credibly argue that scholars eschewing scientific approaches feel rejected, marginalized or unwelcomed by the Association. But it is true, for better or worse, that many scholars adopting such approaches do feel rejected, marginalized and unwelcome, and this demonstrably weakens the Association by minimizing the number of these anthropologists who maintain AAA membership.

These measures have been offered and approved by unanimous consent.

While the role of the Section Assembly is still evolving, its ability to express the will of the Association–across its diverse membership–is one of its most powerful attributes. We use that power here because, whatever our epistemological and methodological positions, we recognize and affirm that significant scholarship is performed by colleagues holding other positions, and this continues to be one of the greatest scholarly strengths of the discipline.

The SA presents its position to you in the most collegial spirit and as our contribution to the ongoing conversation regarding our discipline. We hope it duly informs the process of revising the LRP statement.

Thank you for your dynamic efforts addressing this matter and, on behalf of the SA, I wish you the best at this time of the year."

"Long Range Plan, Short Range Controversy"

Another great post on #aaafail and now #wadefail (love!) from Daniel Lende over at Neuroanthropology...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Anthropology discussed on WNYC radio

Great podcast of the Brian Lehrer show regarding anthropology as humanity/science/what-have-you. Peter Peregrine, President of the Society of Anthropological Sciences, and Hugh Gusterson, member of the AAA Executive Board hash it out.

A light-hearted look at #aaafail from Daniel Lende

AAA Statement on Science Controversy – Holistic Hope Saves the Day?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Was it just the outsiders who got it wrong? AAA Responds to Public Controversy Over Science in Anthropology

The AAA Executive Board has issued a press release regarding its position on science in anthropology as reflected in the new Long Range Plan and the ensuing controversy. They also link to the recently approved statement "What is Anthropology?" I just read the statement and while I am really liking the inclusivity (yes, science is mentioned!) and interdisciplinarity of what we do, I must confess to some ongoing annoyance with the tone coming from the EB. In particular (from the press release): "Some recent media coverage, including an article in the New York Times, has portrayed anthropology as divided between those who practice it as a science and those who do not, and has given the mistaken impression that the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Executive Board believes that science no longer has a place in anthropology."

"Changes to the AAA's Long Range Plan have been taken out of context and blown out of proportion in recent media coverage. In approving the changes, it was never the Board’s intention to signal a break with the scientific foundations of anthropology – as the "What is Anthropology?" document approved at the same meeting demonstrates."

While I would agree that much of the media coverage has contributed to such an impression, it was the EB's initial action of changing the wording without sufficient explanation, followed by its delay in producing a compelling response (despite rather urgent demands on the part of AAA constituencies and sections to do so) that engendered the impression in the first place.

Apparently, there will be no acknowledgement of any self-reflection on the part of the current President, and perhaps it is not important. But as we map out a future anthropological endeavor and community, I think it is important to critique and dissect what many of us experienced as dismissal by the organization that is nominally the national catchall for all of us. I'm not waiting for an apology - clearly I would be waiting a loooong time - but considering we can play a role in vetting and voting for a leadership that represents our concerns, this issue and the clumsy and frankly insensitive way it was handled should be remembered.

Examples of what I've repeatedly called tone-deafness play out in the official statements; by parameterizing the public discussion as only taking place in the media and amongst "outsider" bloggers, the EB continues to promote the public impression that there has been no internal dissent or dialogue, which if you've been visiting this and other anthro blogs (um, EB? Familiar with the interwebs? It's a series of tubes...) you know there has been a vibrant internal dialogue expressing a panoply of views regarding not only the LRP wording, but the deeper questions of anthropological identity. It's been exciting and I think very valuable to the discipline, but completely overlooked, at least publicly, by the AAA leadership.

So, enough of the negative. There are enormous and numerous lessons to be learned, and as I've discussed with fellow anthro bloggers Daniel Lende and Kate Clancy, I'm hopeful that this debacle could lead to a renaissance for our broader discipline. Nothing like controversy to get people interested in anthropology, even cynical anthropologists.

Job posting at University of Pennsylvania

(Note to junior folk: this is a relatively senior search.)

The University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology invite applications for an Associate Professor of Biological Anthropology/Associate Curator of Physical Anthropology with tenure pending administrative and budgetary approval. We seek an anthropologist with expertise in human evolutionary studies and the interrelationships of life history, skeletal biology, and human evolution. Special attention will be given to applicants who complement current faculty strengths in genetics, reproductive ecology, and primate behavior.

A record of demonstrated teaching excellence is important. The successful candidate will have a two-course teaching load and will contribute to the ongoing development of undergraduate and graduate curricula in biological anthropology within the context of a four-field program that emphasizes research across the subfields. The successful candidate will also oversee the Museum’s physical anthropology collections, conduct teaching and research with the collections and perform other duties commensurate with the mission of the Penn Museum including assisting with NAGPRA compliance, conducting public outreach, and consulting on the exhibit process. Review of applications will begin November 1, 2010 and will continue until the position is filled. Candidates are to apply at:

Include a letter of application outlining experience and qualifications; evidence of teaching experience; and a current academic vita. The University of Pennsylvania is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Women and minority candidates are encouraged to apply.

Undergraduate Scholarship in Anthropology

Announcing the first Mel Ember Student Scholarship Award from Pearson Higher Ed --open to all students currently enrolled in an undergraduate anthropology course. Deadline: Dec. 31st

Friday, December 10, 2010

Daniel Lende posts insightful recap of AAA LRP "situation"

Head over to Daniel Lende's post on the Neuroanthropology blog. He does an excellent job of parsing yesterday's frankly subpar NY Times piece (consensus view about the changes has NOT been a rehashing of the El Dorado affair) as well as laying out a timeline of reactions to the changes. Great reading! And over on Twitter, Lance Gravlee shakes his head over Wade's characterization that anthropology is divided into two camps: those who are scientists and those who study race.

Wiley-Blackwell articles available via open access

Just a reminder that once I post an article, even in early view, on BANDIT, Wiley-Blackwell generously makes it available for free for a limited time!

NY Times reports on the AAA LRP changes

Nicholas Wade reports in yesterday's NY Times on the still unresolved and still quite rancorous issues of the AAA Long Range Plan statement. The piece quotes AAA president Virginia Dominguez as saying "....the new statement could be modified if the board received any good suggestions for doing so." Apparently the statement the BAS sent to President Dominguez didn't contain any good suggestions.

Mother–infant sleep proximity & breastfeeding in evolutionary perspective

I'm excited today to announce the AJPA early view appearance of Evolutionary perspectives on mother–infant sleep proximity and breastfeeding in a laboratory setting by University of Notre Dame professor Dr. Jim McKenna and Northwestern doctoral candidate Lee Gettler.

Keywords:breastfeeding;bedsharing;cosleeping;human evolution
Human maternal and infant biology likely coevolved in a context of close physical contact and some approximation of frequent, “infant-initiated” breastfeeding. Still, mothers and infants commonly sleep apart from one another in many western societies, indicating a possible “mismatch” between cultural norms and infant biology. Here we present data from a 3-night laboratory-based study that examines differences in mother–infant sleep physiology and behavior when mothers and infants sleep together on the same surface (bedsharing) and apart in separate rooms (solitary). We analyze breastfeeding frequency and interval data from the first laboratory night (FN) for 52 complementary breastfeeding mothers and infants (26 total mother–infant pairs), of which 12 pairs were routine bedsharers (RB) and 14 were routine solitary sleepers (RS). RB infants were 12.0 ± 2.7 (SD) weeks old; RS infants were 13.0 ± 2.4 weeks old. On the FN, RB mother–infant pairs (while bedsharing) engaged in a greater number of feeds per night compared to RS (while sleeping alone) (P < 0.001). RB also showed lower intervals (min) between feeds relative to RS (P < 0.05). When we evaluated data from all three laboratory nights (n = 36), post hoc, RB breastfed significantly more often (P < 0.01) and showed a trend towards lower intervals between feeds (P < 0.10). Given the widely known risks associated with little or no breastfeeding, the demonstrated mutually regulatory relationship between bedsharing and breastfeeding should be considered in future studies evaluating determinants of breastfeeding outcomes.

p.s. I'm a bit behind in my "awesome" posts. I hope to get caught up on new BANDIT publications over the break.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to Fail in Grant Writing

The Chronicle of Higher Ed offers this tongue-in-cheek primer on guaranteeing your proposal won't get funded.

Some favorites:
•If your proposal is a resubmission, be snarky about the comments you received from the previous reviewers.

•Don't make any predictions. And if you do make predictions, don't put in any experiments that would actually test them.

•Make sure that the feasibility of your proposal's second and third objectives depends on a particular result from your first objective.

•Replace simple, meaningful words with polysyllabic behemoths whenever possible. Don't write "use" when you can say "utilize." Why "use a method" if you can "utilize a methodological technique"? There is no reason to "increase" when you can "exacerbate." Bonus points for using polysyllabic words incorrectly, as in "the elevation in glucose concentration was exasperated during exercise."

•If you're applying for an NSF grant, make sure that in your "broader impacts" statement you say that your research on frog metamorphosis will help cure cancer and/or help us understand the function of the human brain.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Free Access to Int. J. Primatol!

Just got this email:

Springer has made the entire International Journal of Primatology website content free to access until the end of the year. Just go to:
This is a great opportunity for those IPS members who haven't yet subscribed to take a look at the society’s journal, and might encourage you to subscribe! Remember that as a member of IPS you get a much reduced subscription rate to the journal.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Maderas Rainforest Conservancy Scholarship in Field Primatology

Great news for aspiring field primatologists! The American Society of Primatologists is teaming with the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy to offer a generous scholarship to undergraduate and graduate students to attend field school sessions at one of two sites: La Suerte, Costa Rica, and Ometepe, Nicaragua:

The scholarship provides full tuition for an approximately one month course including room and board (3 meals/day), instruction, access to all facilities at the field site and in-country transportation to and from the field site. Information about the history and location of the field sites, facilities, course offerings, course syllabi, research opportunities, primate species present, and a list of La Suerte/Ometepe teachers and alumni can be found at

As an alum of the Ometepe course and a veteran teaching assistant of both Ometepe and La Suerte, I wholeheartedly endorse this program.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Email from AAA President to membership

Revision to AAA Long Range PlanAAA []
To: Rutherford, Julienne

The following is a letter from AAA President Virginia R Dominguez regarding the association's long range plan.

Every so often an event or statement captures the attention of anthropologists on important issues for the profession, regardless of the intentions of those involved in sponsoring the event or formulating the statement. The past 10-12 days are an excellent example.

When such an issue presents itself, I hope we can use these moments of reflections and debate to strengthen our profession and our engagement with it. I have long been interested in who we are, what work we do, and how our commonalities and differences (past and present) are all still anchored in our shared interest in humanity in all of its aspects and diversity.

I urge you to read the statement issued by the four AAA officers yesterday and posted on the AAA Home Page along with a direct link to the document that sparked the recent discussion and public debate.

The document to which I refer is a revised AAA Long Range Plan. The plan, originally adopted and occasionally amended by the AAA Executive Board, is one element of the Board's process of planning for the future, our use of resources, and our stewardship of the association. The AAA Executive Board uses it as it fulfills its legal duty to the AAA membership to plan for a sustainable future.

Upon reading the revised Long Range Plan, if you have suggestions to strengthen and improve it, I urge you to forward them to me at or post them on the AAA Blog so that the AAA Executive Board can benefit from your wisdom and counsel.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The AAA responds

The AAA officers released a statement about the rewording of the mission.

Long-Range Plan

From the officers of the AAA to our membership:

Our AAA long-range plan needed updating in order to address the changing composition of the profession and the needs of the AAA membership. At its November 20 meeting in New Orleans, the Executive Board specified, concretized, and enlarged its operational roadmap for investing the Association’s resources towards a sustainable future. Section leadership was consulted prior to the New Orleans Annual Meeting, and the Executive Board acted. Then immediately after the highly attended 2010 AAA Meetings in New Orleans, some criticisms of the plan were circulated electronically that had not been sent our way prior to the Meetings. Among them were thoughtful responses from several quarters, many queries about hearsay, and some suggestions for improvement or change. These responses, however, were amped up by blog headline editors earlier this week: “Anthropology Without Science” and “No Science Please. We’re Anthropologists.” We believe that the source of the problem speaks to the power of symbols: we replaced the term “science” in the preface of this planning document by a more specific (and inclusive) list of research domains, while explicitly acknowledging that the Association’s central focus is to promote the production, circulation, and application of anthropological research findings. Each one of us (the four officers of the AAA) may add or comment on the issues separately, but collectively we care about letting the entire association see the document at hand. We know that comments will continue to come our way and we welcome them from our clearly engaged membership.

Virginia R. Dominguez, President
Leith Mullings, President-Elect
Debra L. Martin, Secretary
Edward Liebow, Treasurer

Interesting that they blame bloggers for "amping up" the response. Wonder if they noticed that a lot of the bloggers were some of their own? I think it's good that they are considering this as an example of the power of symbols, but wonder why this didn't occur to them sooner. Indeed, according to their own spokesperson a few days ago, the AAA wasn't prepared for the impact of that symbolism:
"Mr. Dozier, meanwhile, believes that this month's dispute has been rooted in miscommunication. "We wanted to choose language that described our purposes in more expansive ways," he says. No one realized, he says, how loaded the word "science" actually might be."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Biological Anthropology Section's statement to the AAA Executive Board

Many thanks to the executive board of the Biological Anthropology Section of the AAA for officially expressing the widely-shared concern about the new wording of the AAA Statement of Purpose.

Karen Strier, the new chair of the BAS, sent an email to the BAS membership to let us know of this statement and made some great, results-oriented suggestions to increase the profile of biological anthropology within AAA. With permission, I share the email here for BANDITs who do not belong to BAS:

Dear BAS Members,

I am writing as the new Chair of BAS, having just replaced Darna Dufour, who deserves recognition and appreciation for her service as BAS Chair these past two years. I had been expecting to slowly ease into the job at the close of the AAA meetings in New Orleans, but alas, the news about the AAA Executive Board's (EB) revisions to the Mission Statement hit my desk right after I returned from the meetings and, well, here we are.

Briefly, for those who haven't seen any of the emails or blogs, the concerns pertain to the revised rewording in the AAA's mission statement from the long range planning committee. The revision excludes the word "science," which we think sends the wrong message about anthropology in general and the place of biology in it, in particular. The revision also refocuses the emphasis from being about advancing "anthropology as the science that studies humankind..." to be about advancing "the public understanding of humankind.".

I am writing to assure you that the Executive Committee of the BAS is among the many representatives from many sections that are challenging these revisions. Our message to the President and EB of the AAA has been submitted, and a copy of it has been posted on the BAS website.

We are confident that the AAA statement will be re-evaluated and subsequently revised as a result of the objections it has generated. Therefore, I hope that you will all stand by BAS during this time. It is especially important that we have the strength of our membership numbers behind our voice right now.

This is also an opportune moment to encourage you to increase your participation in BAS and the overall presence of Biological Anthropologists in the AAA. Here are a few of the ways you can do this:

1. Nominate worthy books for the 2011 W.W. Howells Book Award.

Deadline is Feb 1, 2011; nominations should be sent to Sara Stinson:

2. Organize a session or volunteer a paper or poster presentation at the 2011 AAA meetings, which will be in Montreal. Deadlines for abstracts are in the early spring; watch for the call from AAA.

3. If you are a student or know an eligible student, consider entering in the 2011 BAS Student Prize competition when it is announced.

4. Vote in our upcoming BAS election. We are preparing a slate of amazing candidates for the 2011 elections.

5. Self-nominate, or tell someone else that you would like to be nominated, for future BAS positions and/or committees of the AAA. The more representation we have on the latter, the more we can shape the Association to represent ourselves.

6. Attend the 2011 AAA meetings. Our 2011 Distinguished Lecture will be given by Jonathan Marks.

7. Send any news you may have for publication in AnthroNews to the BAS Newsletter editor, Virginia Vitzthum:

8. Send any news or updates (e.g., field schools, summer programs, etc.) for the BAS website to our webmaster, Kate Pechenkina:

More information about BAS activities can be found at our website. We are in the process of updating the website, so please be patient. If you can't find what you're looking for, please let us know.

Thanks to all of you for your continuing support of BAS.

Best wishes,

Karen Strier

Chair, BAS

Carlina de la Cova is awesome! (X2)

Biological anthropologist and fellow IU alum Dr. Carlina de la Cova of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has a paper in the latest issue of American Anthropologist: Cultural Patterns of Trauma among 19th-Century-Born Males in Cadaver Collections. Gotta love work that incorporates systematic examination of skeletal collections with analyses of class and culture. Plus, the woman uses "fisticuffs" in her list of keywords. THAT, my friends, is what awesome looks like.

Keywords:interpersonal violence;trauma;African American history;19th-century history;fisticuffs
ABSTRACT  Comprehending violence among bioarchaeological and historical groups is a topic of recent interest among biological anthropologists. This research examines trauma among African American and Euro-American males of low socioeconomic status born between 1825 and 1877. A total of 651 male skeletons from the Cobb, Terry, and Hamann-Todd anatomical collections were macroscopically evaluated for skeletal trauma, based on the presence of fractures and weapon-related wounds, and statistically analyzed according to ancestry, birth (Antebellum, Civil War, Reconstruction), combined ancestry–birth, and collection cohorts. Results indicated that African Americans and Euro-Americans expressed ethnic differences in regard to interpersonal violence. To interpret these disparities, documentary data were used to reconstruct the socioeconomic and cultural environment of these individuals. This research emphasizes the importance of evaluating skeletal data within the context of class, culture, and environment so that behavioral patterns observed in the skeleton can be better understood.

Carlina is on fire this week, with another paper out in AJPA:

Race, health, and disease in 19th-century-born males
ABSTRACT This study analyzed skeletal health disparities among African American and Euro-American males of low socioeconomic status born between 1825 and 1877. A total of 651 skeletons from the Cobb, Hamann-Todd, and Terry anatomical collections were macroscopically examined for skeletal pathologies related to dietary deficiencies and disease. Individuals were separated into age, ancestry, birth (Antebellum, Civil War, Pre-Reconstruction, and Reconstruction), combined ancestry/birth, enslaved versus liberated, and collection cohorts. These groups were statistically evaluated using ANOVA and χ2 analyses to determine if age, ethnic, and temporal differences existed. Results indicated that African Americans, especially those born during Reconstruction, had significantly higher frequencies of tuberculosis (P = 0.004) and treponematosis (P = 0.006) than Euro-Americans. Historical sources are important in contextualizing why these different ethnic and temporal patterns were present, pointing to environmental conditions related to enslavement, postliberation migration to the industrialized North, crowded urban living conditions, and poor sanitation.

I'll warn you that "fisticuffs" does not appear as a key word, but "treponematosis" does so the awesome still abides.

Kate Clancy is awesome - and so is her post on #aaafail!

Check out Dr. Kate Clancy's blog, Context and Variation, to see her interpretation of the AAA statement: What is a generous interpretation of the AAA mission statement?

Anthropology Just Says No to Science?

Cultural anthropologist Krystal D'Costa over at Anthropology in Practice links to the BANDIT blog in this thoughtful piece: Anthropology Just Says No to Science?

Whither Anthropology as a Science?

Professor Carl Lipo's take on the AAA Statement of Purpose at Evolution Beach.

I think he nicely frames one of the threads in the BANDIT comments yesterday:
"Of course, so much of what anthropology does do really isn't science, not even in its most empiricist and "systematic" form. Looking over the set of papers presented at the AAAs, one sees largely an ad hoc assortment of viewpoints, beliefs, assertions, claims, stories, tales, re-envisionings, interpretations, polemics, rallies, hubris, hue, and so on. Little of it is even empiricist in its crass form and even less is "systematic" in any recognizable way.

But on second thought,the idea that the people who believe that anthropology cannot or should not be a science can entirely co-opt the entire discipline is pretty outrageous. This kind of gerrymandering of the mission basically makes it necessary for those who believe that there are ways of generating theory-laden falsifiable accounts of the world in terms of culture (and other basic anthropological concepts) must work under a different banner than anthropology. But why should this be - we (science focused individuals) are anthropologists in the best sense of the discipline and its tradition. The anti-science theme is something early anthropologists fought against -- and is a relative late comer to the party."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Swarm at AAA


Savage Minds: $10 thoughts on blogging in anthropology

Chris Kelty over at Savage Mindswaxes eloquent on the joys of being an anthropology blogger.

Cross-field Anthropology: Opportunities & Obstacles

As evidence that there are at least pockets of cross-disciplinary collaboration and apprecation within AAA, the Society for Cultural Anthropology sponsored a Multispecies Salon at the recent meeting. Five essays published in the November 2010 issue of Cultural Anthropology formed the platform of the "innovent", and several additional papers were discussed. There were also exhibits of art informed by the concept of Multispecies Ethnography held in New Orleans galleries.

I think this is a great example of what IS happening NOW within anthropology and evidence that there is mutual respect amongst various practitioners, some of whom consider themselves scientists and some of whom do not. I heard it was all fascinating. Unfortunately, I didn't attend any of it because I couldn't find it. The innovent wasn't advertised by the Biological Anthropology Section. The online AAA program allows you to search by interest group (the program is a behemoth); my searches for "biology" and other related terms did not return any information on the Multispecies Salon. You'd have to know it was happening in advance to find it in the program. I learned that a couple of colleagues of mine were presenting in this forum but I couldn't remember the name of the session; searching the index of the printed program for their names yielded nothing. When I finally figured out what session it was, I rushed to the room to find it empty, the session over. In addition, Karen Strier, a highly respected primatologist, gave a distinguished lecture to the General Anthropology Division at AAA. However, Karen's name wasn't even in the program and the talk was very poorly attended. Ironically, the title of her talk was "Why Anthropology Needs Primatology."

Is this merely a rant? I don't think so. I think it's necessary to engage in the discussion, to engage both in critique AND in self-reflection. As I just remarked to a friend, my training in cultural anthropology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels is inadequate. That lack of training fostered a lack of interest, and a sense of distance and illiteracy (reading the titles of papers and symposia in the AAA program only heighten my sense of speaking a different language). I don't know what's going on in cultural anthropology today; I mostly just feel like it's water I'd rather not tread. I'm not taking pride in that assertion, I'm just sayin'. And I doubt I'm alone. I honestly don't know what it means to be an integrated anthropologist, but I'm trying to learn. That said, I've published one paper in American Anthropologist, with another in final revisions. The first was the year in review for biological anthropology (2009) and the other is an explicitly evolutionary paper, co-authored with a fellow biological anthropologist and written intentionally for Am Anth. We were delighted by the warm reception our paper received by the editors & reviewers and are enthusiastic about sharing it with a broadly sociocultural readership.

To wrap these musings up, I don't think the answer is to abandon AAA. To those biological anthropologists who are currently engaging in research and dialogue across the subdisciplines, hats off. Keep doing it. I'd recommend (beg?) going forward that you avail yourself of whatever status you have within AAA, as well as whatever modes of social media you can access, to spread the word about what you're doing and why. Let the rest of the biological anthropology community know when and where your sessions are so we can show up and learn from your approach. One of the reasons I started this blog is because I felt that we tend to get locked into the cramped rabbit warrens of our own work and suffer from a distaste for promoting ourselves and asking questions. I think this debate has opened up wonderful opportunities for our discipline as a whole to engage in some much-needed self-promotion.

Links to more about the recent AAA wording changes

More essays and documentation:

Psychology Today: No Science Please, We're Anthropologists
Comments by Raymond Hames quoted therein in regard to the tilt toward "public advocacy":
"Advocacy is what we do as citizens in a democratic society. Even as
anthropologists we must advocate on the basis of fundamental science.
Science has a special currency in courts, public opinion, and in the
legislative process. If we purge science from our mission statement
we lose our credibility, the ability to advocate for effective change,
and hence our power to do good. We become just another special
interest group."
Hames brought up a useful example, namely the recent ruling in Florida
allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. In that case, the
judge considered the scientific evidence showing that same-sex couples
can be just as good parents as opposite-sex couples. Wrote Hames to
me, "Evidence-based advocacy trumps special interest group advocacy."
So, even if most of what the AAA wants to do is advocacy rather than
data-driven scholarship, why ditch science in that pursuit?"

Society for Anthropological Sciences resolution against the new wording

Chronicle of Higher Education blog post by Peter Wood

The place of science in anthropology

By now the word has trickled out that at the recent American Anthropological Association meeting, the AAA executive board approved changes to the statement of purpose that omitted any mention of the word "science" or any description of the discipline of anthropology as a science.

As a news article in today's Inside Higher Ed reports,"a new long-range plan for the American Anthropological Association that omits the word “science” from the organization's vision for its future has exposed fissures in the discipline. The plan, adopted by the executive board of the association at its annual meeting two weeks ago, includes 'significant changes to the American Anthropological Association mission statement -- it removes all mention of science,' Peter N. Peregrine, president of the Society for Anthropological Sciences and professor at Lawrence University, wrote in a widely circulated e-mail to members. The changes to the plan, he continued, 'undermine American anthropology.'"

In the interest of full disclosure, I was not at the executive committee meeting, was not directly provided the changed wording, and have seen only second-hand accounts of the email circulated by Professor Peter Peregrine, President of the Society for Anthropological Sciences that raised an alarm about the changes, but I have received corroboration of the changes from trusted informants within AAA. The wording on the AAA website does not yet reflect these changes.

It remains to be seen whether there was a bioanthropological or archaeological presence when those decisions were made, and thus far the AAA has not provided a rationale for the changes. The Inside Higher Ed piece describes what frankly appears to me to be a bit of backpedaling on the part of the association: "The association said that the long-range plan's change in language reflected a simple wordsmithing choice more than a true shift in purpose. The removal of any mention of science from the plan's mission statement applies only to the long-range plan -- and not to the organization itself or its larger direction, said Damon Dozier, a spokesman for the association. 'We have no interest in taking science out of the discipline,' he said. 'It’s not as if the anthropology community is turning its back on science.' Dozier added that the alterations to the plan, though already adopted by the executive board of the association, are part of an ongoing dialogue and will be subject to revision. 'This isn’t something that’s written in stone,' he said. 'This long-range plan is something that will be tweaked over time.'"

Again, I am not privy to the inner workings of the AAA and don't know what happened or why, but it seems disingenuous to me to be surprised that these changes to the statement of purpose (which, remember, were approved by the AAA executive board) have been met with dismay and even a sense of betrayal by those of us who employ various aspects and tools of the scientific method in the pursuit of anthropological research. Obviously this move yet again tears the worn-out bandaid off the decades old debate regarding four fields anthropology and the divisive battles between departments over identity, many of which continue to lead to the splintering of sociocultural and biological factions into separate departments and in some cases, outright dissolution of anthropology departments.

I don't even know how to unpack the argument being made by at least one sociocultural blogger that the move to redefine anthropology as a non-science is to be applauded because science, as an emblem of Western privilege, obscures indigenous ways of knowing: "Historically not included under the rubric of "science", however, are the thousands of distinct indigenous knowledge systems that exist around the world. Indigenous knowledge is only recently being understood and accepted by those in the West (and in anthropology) as the equally complex (and equally valid) indigenous counterpart to Western science. For the AAA, maintaining the use of the term "science" in their mission statement serves to maintain the colonizing, privileging, superior positionality of anthropology that continues to plague the discipline.
The 'science-free' mission statement allows for the inclusion of a number of perspectives and approaches that have been and remain marginalized, not only in anthropology, but in much of their social and economic existence. In short, the old mission statement privileged "science" over and above the knowledge systems of the very people we have been studying and working with for generations. It is well past the time for this to change. Do anthropologists still use science? Of course, and science may well offer the most appropriate methodology for many. Still, we must also recognize that there are other means to knowing, exploring, and explaining."

I am not arguing that there are no other valid modes of sampling the universe besides science, but explicitly eliminating science as a way of knowing in order to highlight other ways of knowing is not a concept I can grasp. It may be because I didn't take a lot of coursework in sociocultural anthropology. Unfortunately, I think some of our sociocultural colleagues believe that we biological anthropologists view our study populations as Dawkinsesque genomic automatons and culture as either a precisely quantifiable logic problem or completely irrelevant, a variable to be "controlled" in regression models. It might have been eye-opening for members of the executive committee to attend the fascinating and very culturally-driven biocultural session I and other biological anthropologists (including a geneticist, human biologist, and primatologist) participated in at AAA.

For our biological colleagues who already feel the AAA and its journal, American Anthropologist, are irrelevant to them, this move and the perception of dismissal it engenders only further exacerbate those tensions. If it was merely an issue of "wordsmithing" then it demonstrates a remarkable tone deafness and insensitivity to the various stakeholders within anthropology who fully consider themselves scientists (me included). I hope we hear more from the Association and I hope that this stumble does indeed open the way to meaningful dialogue and better understanding within our discipline. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Upcoming posts....

I've been a little lax in posting original material lately and I wanted to preview some upcoming posts I have planned, when the pre-holiday rush calms down a bit.

1. Page charges and the the new NIH PubMed Central open access policy - can you afford it?
2. Summary of issues raised at the Biological Anthropology Section business meeting at AAA. There are concerns about membership and participation, and thus great opportunities for BANDITs to step in and help shape the future of biological anthropology in the broader anthropological community.
3. Interest in a follow-up happy hour at AAPA Minneapolis?
4. Probably some other stuff.

So there is more to come - I haven't forgotten you.

Great news! New monkey population found in Peru!

It's always nice to hear some good news on the conservation front, and the news from Peru is mind-blowing. A previously unknown population of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Oreonax flavicauda)has been found in the cloud forest of northeastern Peru:

"The new population has been found in an area where the monkey has not been recorded for decades. The global population of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey has been estimated at less than 250 individuals."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Support primate conservation while you do your holiday shopping

Lots of us do our shopping for academic materials and holiday gifts on Amazon. Link to Amazon from the American Society of Primatologists website (scroll to the bottom) to automatically donate a percentage of your purchase to conservation efforts.

Please spread the word to your students, colleagues, friends, and family!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Primatologist Karen Strier to deliver Distinguished Lecture at AAA!

Dr. Karen Strier of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin will be delivering a Distinguished Lecture at the General Anthropology Division's business meeting at AAA, Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 12:15. It's unfortunate that the talk is not better advertised because the topic - "Why Anthropology Needs Primatology" - integrates so well with anthropology's purported "four-fields" identity. I will be on the plane to NOLA during her talk, but I hope other AAA attendees will show their support of this distinguished scholar.

Biological anthropology at AAA this week!

I'm getting excited about heading down to NOLA for the AAA meeting this week. The Biological Anthropology Section is showing great representation; check here for a quick guide to all the goings on.

List of sessions of interest to BAS members:
Innovative Methods in Biological Anthropology
Circulating Through Us: Violence, Trauma and Memory
Critical Collisions in Health and Culture: Sleep
Ancient Humans: Birth, Health and Lifestyle
Biocultural Acts, Biocultural Survival
Biocultural Adaptation and Evolution: Guts, Diet and Microbes

Enter the search terms "biology/biological" or "evolution/evolutionary" here to generate an interesting mix of talks and other events.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Congrats to Dr. Ben Auerbach!

Dr. Ben Auerbach,Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, has edited a volume called Human Variation in the Americas: The Integration of Archaeology and Biological Anthropology, published by the Center for Archaeological Investigations at Southern Illinois University. Impressive work from my fellow Miami University undergrad alum.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

AAA & Coalition on the Academic Workforce launch survey of contingent & part-time faculty

Are you a contingent or part-time faculty member? Know someone who is??? The AAA and the Coalition on the Academic Workforce want to hear from YOU!

AAA and CAW invite all members of the contingent academic workforce in U.S. colleges and universities to participate in a survey about course assignments, salaries, benefits, and general working conditions as members of the contingent academic workforce experience them at the institutional level. We invite participation from all instructional and research staff members employed off the tenure track, including faculty members employed either full- or part-time, graduate students remunerated as teaching assistants or employed in other roles, and researchers and post-doctoral fellows.

Individuals who wish to be entered in a drawing for one of several $50 book gift cards may include contact information at the end of the questionnaire, but this information will not be used to connect survey data with specific persons.

Please visit the following URL:

The survey closes November 30, 2010. Winners of gift cards will be notified the following week. Contact with questions!

Friday, November 5, 2010

One of the "20 best primatology blogs" advocates murder of animal researchers

It's come to my attention that Primate Freedom, one of the blogs on the list I posted yesterday, is a site that advocates extremist violence against animal researchers (or "vivisectionists"). I apologize for not catching this sooner and offering that disclosure with my original post. I have decided to NOT delete my original post, however. I think it's important we know about these sites and groups. Not notifying our community of their existence does not change the reality that they do in fact exist.

I encourage BANDIT readers to leave a comment on the 20 best blogs site to let them know the full nature of the blog they are promoting. This link is chilling, and you can follow a link therein to the original Primate Freedom blog post.

I have left two comments that are currently awaiting moderation. Stay tuned to see if they see the light of day...

Job posting at Midwestern University outside of Chicago

Message from Dr. Michelle Singleton:

The Midwestern University Department of Anatomy (Downers Grove, IL campus) has an opening for a research technician. This individual will assist Drs. Jonathan Perry and Michelle Singleton with research in the areas of primate evolution, craniodental morphology, and feeding biomechanics.

This is a full-time position with benefits and is a good opportunity for a graduating Senior who is interested in biological anthropology and/or paleontology and would like to gain some experience before applying to graduate/professional school.

I have included a link to the MWU job site below. Informal inquiries may be directed to Dr. Perrry ( or myself, but applications must be made through the online system.

Thank you for helping us bring this opportunity to the attention of qualified candidates.

Best regards,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

20 best blogs for primatology students

Just found out about a great site that rounds up 20 current primatology & biological anthropology blogs, many of them run by graduate students. I've featured some of them here on the BANDIT blog and it's great to see them being highlighted for a broader audience.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Deadline Extended: AAA BAS Student Awards!

Message from Dr. Katie MacKinnon:
If you have any students who will be presenting at this year's AAA meeting in New Orleans, please alert them to this great opportunity:

The Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association is currently accepting applicants for our annual Student Poster/Paper Award! The competition is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. The abstract and poster/paper must represent the original work of the student.

If the student is not the sole author, a letter from the student's advisor, stating that the work presented is primarily that of the student, is required to accompany the abstract. Criteria: Posters and papers will be evaluated by members of the BAS Executive Committee using the following criteria: excellence in presentation, originality of topic, and intellectual creativity. Award: $250 award, to be announced at the BAS Business meeting during the AAA, plus publication in the BAS column of the AAA Newsletter, together with the winning abstract as space permits.

The student must already have a poster or paper accepted for the 2010 AAA meeting. By November 8 (extended deadline!), they should send their name, paper title, and session title to me (Student Prize Committee Chair) at
Please spread the word amongst your students and colleagues, and forward on to any relevant faculty/advisors.

Website: (Note: website currently being updated so check back if it's not working at this time. If you have students who are interested, please make sure to send them my email or forward this message.)


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Inside the AAA President's Studio with Agustin Fuentes

The American Anthropological Association's blog has a very cool podcast called Inside the President's Studio which highlights fascinating personal interviews of anthropologists by the AAA president Virginia R. Dominguez. The most recent entry is a conversation with Agustin Fuentes, a biological anthropologist who has been very active broadly within the AAA and more specificially within AAA's Biological Anthropology Section.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Six months later and a world away...

Still in Chile and supposedly not posting, but today marks six months since the birth of the BANDIT blog. Celebrate good times, y'all! It's been a ton of fun for me and I hope that you have found something here that's interesting, edifying, and maybe even validating. My goal has been to foster a virtual community of early stage biological anthropology investigators and I hope this maybe has the effect of forging some real-life ties at meetings and as potential colleagues and collaborators.

All the best to all of you,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pollitzer travel awards for AAPA

If you are or have students who would like to attend the AAPA meetings in Minneapolis but funds are in short supply, please check out the announcement for the AAPA William Pollitzer Student Travel Awards. This is an award of $500 in honor of Dr. William S. Pollitzer. It is designed to help students defray the costs of attending the AAPA meetings. Student qualifications: This award is open to all AAPA student members (undergraduate and graduate). You do NOT have to be giving a paper to compete or receive an award.

Last year the awards committee gave out several of these, so please consider applying!

Outside the comfort zone

Heading into Day 2 at the International Federation of Placenta Associations meeting in Santiago, Chile. I presented yesterday and engaged in lots of great conversations about this project and the directions I want to take it. As much as I personally love the AAPA and primatology meetings, coming to the placenta meeting is like going to school. I love the challenge (and yes, the trepidation!) of presenting my placenta work and ideas to a bunch of people who are at the forefront of the field. In my anthropological world, what I do feels novel and innovative within my immediate context, but when I go to the IFPA meeting I'm surrounded by people who blow me away with the depth of their knowledge and the cutting edge approach they use to studying the placenta. And who can offer real critiques of what I do - for better and for worse. Yesterday I had one of my heroes describe one of my ongoing hypotheses as a "crazy idea." Sweet! I first "met" some of the big names in placentology during my dissertation when I emailed a couple of them for advice on how to process marmoset placentas for stereological investigation. They were so generous and encouraging, and excited that someone outside their world was interested in their work. It's been great to have that kind of reception.

The interdisciplinary nature of biological anthropology means that many of us have to make intellectual leaps beyond our background training to gain the knowledge and skills we need to do our work. I'd love to hear from others who move around in fields outside the bounds of anthropology - what's it like for you at the bone, genetics, DOHaD, anatomy, bioinformatics, ecology, animal behavior, psychology, neuroscience, etc., etc., etc., meetings you attend? Which ones are your favorites? Do you know a lot of people in that world or do you float around on the fringes? What do you like best about attending these extracurricular meetings? What are the biggest challenges? Is your work/identity as an anthropologist taken seriously? Please leave comments!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A brief hiatus....

I will be leaving the country on Monday for about two weeks and I don't anticipate posting while I'm gone. I'm presenting a poster on Fetoplacental growth dynamics in the vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops) at the International Federation of Placenta Associations meeting in Santiago, Chile. This will be the second time I've attended this super fun (and very specific) meeting and I'm really looking forward to seeing old placenta friends and making new ones. After the meeting I'm taking advantage of the location and hiking up Cerro La Campana, the same mountain Darwin did back in 1834. Will there be Chilean malbecs in my future? Have you met me?

Biological Anthropology Section of AAA

Lots of cool biological anthropology business happening at the upcoming American Anthropological Association meeting. Note that today - October 15 - is the last day to preregister!

Yours truly will be presenting a paper in the Biocultural Acts, Biocultural Survival session, along with Robin Nelson of the University of California at Riverside, Laurie Kauffman of the University of Florida and DePaul University, and Jada Benn Torres of the University of Notre Dame. I know Robin and Laurie well and have heard wonderful things about Jada and her work so I'm jazzed up about this session. My paper - Biological Waste or Talisman of Childbirth: Shifting Concepts of the Placenta in the Philippines - is a departure from my usual work and I'm really excited to be presenting it at AAA. I'll be sharing and exploring some of my observations from my recent research trip to the Philippines during which I spent a lot of time at hospitals and talked to people from a variety of perspectives about how the placenta is handled as both powerful spiritual object and as waste material.

Looking forward to seeing fellow BANDITs at AAA!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I have a book chapter in print!

I mentioned in a previous post that I had a book chapter in press but I'm very happy to say the book - Hormones and Reproduction of Vertebrates - Vol 5: Mammals - is now published and available directly from the publisher (Elsevier) as well as Amazon. In addition to throwing myself and my co-authors Wendy Saltzman and Suzette Tardif a little shout out (check out lucky 13 below!), I think the series, and this volume in particular, might be of interest to several BANDITs who explore comparative aspects of reproductive endocrinology in their work.


1. Sexual Differentiation of the Mammalian Brain

Desiree L. Krebs-Kraft and Margaret M. Mc McCarthy

2. Neuroendocrine Control of Gonadotropins in Mammals

Toni R. Pak and Wilson C.J. Chung

3. Endocrine and Paracrine Regulation of Mammalian Spermatogenesis

Zirkin, B.R., Brown, T.R., Jarow, J.P. and Wright, W.W.

4. Hormonal Regulation of the Ovary in Mammals

5. Hormones and Pregnancy in Eutherian Mammals

Fuller W. Bazer and Thomas E. Spencer

6. The Comparative Physiology of Parturition in Mammals: Hormones and Parturition in Mammals

Ross Young, Marilyn B Renfree, Sam Mesiano, Geoff Shaw, Graham Jenkin and Roger Smith

7. Stress and Reproduction in Mammals

Lynda Uphouse

8. Behavioral Neuroendocrinology of Reproduction: Mammals

Jin Ho Park and Emilie F. Rissman

9. Pheromones and Reproduction in Mammals

Aras Petrulis

10. Hormones and Reproductive Cycles in Prototherians and Metatherians

Bronwyn M. McAllan

11. Hormones and reproductive cycles in rodents

Karen L. Bales and Caroline M. Hostetler

12. Hormones and Reproductive Cycles in Bats

Amitabh Krishna and Kunwar P. Bhatnagar

13. Hormones and Reproductive Cycles in Primates

Wendy Saltzman, Suzette D. Tardif, and Julienne N. Rutherford

14. Endocrine Disruption of Reproduction in Mammals

Katherine E. Pelch, Joseph M. Beeman, Bridget A. Niebruegge, Stacey R. Winkeler, and

Susan C. Nagel

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A vanity press by any other name is still a vanity press

Have you heard of VDM Verlag? If you're like me, you've received an email "inviting" you to publish your dissertation with them. It sounds pretty gratifying, because hey, isn't Verlag a subsidiary Springer, the really well-respected publisher of lots and lots anthropology and primatology titles? Um, no. This is a different Verlag altogether, and one that carries with it real risks to your scholarly reputation. Thanks to Stacey Tecot for sharing with me the warning the University of Arizona is circulating to its faculty:

Beware "Vanity" Publishing Houses
We have recently become aware of a situation where some of our junior academics are publishing "books" with VDM Verlag, a German publishing house known for publishing the theses of PhD students in that country where it is sometimes necessary to complete the degree.

VDM solicits theses from academics and publishes them in a very poor quality format to keep costs low, and returns minor royalties if at all to the author.

Interestingly, VDM encourages the academic to purchase copies of their own text, much like the three Belbo, Diotallevi and Casaubon in Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum encouraging authors to buy their own books of occult nonsense their vanity publishing house have printed. Just as with that story, VDM appears to cover its costs from the author's purchases.

The problem?

Other than simply ripping off the author (the royalties are abysmal and the terms are worse), the near scam is becoming very well known amongst researchers, reducing the perceived quality of VDM Verlag:

Writer Beware Blogs
Chronicle Forums
PhD Comics

Further, the books published by VDM Verlag are NOT independently peer reviewed or even proofread or copy-edited!! ...

and should not therefore appear as such in the ERAMIS system.

Unfortunately, we have several researchers who have fallen into the trap, written VDM-published books, and are now citing these books in promotion applications, apparently with the genuine belief VDM Verlag is a respected publisher, not the vanity press it appears to be. This jeopardises the quality of our institution through association with such a press; our academics risk looking like fools in citing these books as significant publications.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jumping from the Adjunct Track to Tenure Track - can it be done?

Given that many anthropology ABD's and newly-minted PhD's will be hired as adjuncts and visiting assistant professors (some even at their PhD institution) but have a tenure track position set as their primary goal, it seems worth exploring whether/how this transition occurs. This recent thread in the Chronicle of Higher Ed forum is a good place to start since it is largely first-person. A great variety of experiences and opinions abound, but there seems to be general agreement that those adjuncts hoping or assuming that at some point they will be offered a tenure-track position in their current department (or hell, even just an interview!) may be hoping in vain:

"I fear that a lot of adjuncts think that there is some sort of implicit understanding that they are on the track to get on the tenure track at the institution where they are teaching. Fairly or not, the opposite is more often the case."

"Community colleges, I understand, are more flexible. We're simply not. At our R-1, there is a handbook clause forbidding "inbreeding," i. e., hiring (tenure track) our own graduates. We can't do it. Further, since we're a research uni, we can't hire on the tenure track anyone who won't get tenure--i. e., anyone who hasn't published. We hire with nationwide ads, and we sometimes hire on the TT people who already have published books (yes, the humanities job market is horrendous)."

"By the way, we shouldn't just blame adjuncts about this. All too often, they get vague suggestions and hints that there is the possibility they'd get hired to TT jobs. Sometimes "promises," which are subsequently broken. So deans, chairs, and TT faculty share some of the blame. I actually had a higher level admin say something like, "Wouldn't it be nice to hire some of our own doctoral grads?" I disappointed that admin when I suggested it would be scandalous. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if said admin had dropped a few vague hints to a past grad or two."

What is considered one of the biggest obstacles (barring not yet finishing the PhD) is that the job requirements for adjuncting are quite different from those for TT faculty. The service and research requirements, even at teaching-focused colleges, are significantly greater for TT faculty than for adjuncts. And departments hire folks for TT jobs because they've decided the odds for tenure are high enough to take the risk. They make that determination on the basis of a number of things, including research productivity, grants, and publications, areas that are tough - though absolutely not impossible - to beef up as an adjunct. And even if you are able to do this as an adjunct, it may not make it easier for you to lobby for a pay increase as long as you remain an adjunct. I think this sums that calculus up well:

"While it makes sense for adjuncts to continue research and publishing in order to remain competitive for tenure-track positions, it is important to remember that research is not part of the expectations or responsibilities of an adjunct, and as such they will not be paid for such activities while they remain adjuncts...
In the same way, simply being overqualified for your current job is not an adequate reason to advocate for more pay, it simply provides you with the opportunity to move into a job with a higher rate of pay for which you are qualified.
In other words, it doesn't matter one bit to your university if you do research and are capable of performing service while an adjunct if that is not part of the job description, since the university is not asking you to do this as a condition for your continued employment."

Several posters on the thread have made that transition from adjunct to TT in their current department, so it's not something that NEVER happens, but it seems reasonable to temper expectations by focusing on productivity outside the classroom as much as is humanly possible to beef up the CV as though you were only applying to external positions. Perhaps if you can demonstrate to your current institution that in addition to being the stellar instructor you've been as an adjunct, you have published, organized symposia, published, achieved external funding, acted as mentor for a PhD candidate elsewhere, um, published - all the things they look for as hallmarks of tenureability - you can be that person who makes the transition. The reality is that for most R1 and liberal arts programs (even the ones who seem happy with your adjuncting self), those criteria will matter more than simply having great teaching evaluations and an impressive roster of classes you can teach.*

*I do not intend to trivialize excellence in teaching - we all know how much work and passion and time go into that. This is about what is valued by the programs looking to add to their tenure track rosters.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Primatology graduate student Noah Snyder-Mackler has NY Times science blog

Noah Snyder-Mackler is a graduate student in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who is studying social behavior in baboons. He also collects poop and has a recurring blog at the NY Times as part of the Scientist at Work series. Very cool!

Asst. Professor Jacinta Beehner in the NY Times

The NY Times ran a very nice piece on the work Dr. Jacinta Beehner, Asst. Professor of Anthropology & Psychology at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Thore Bergman, Asst. Professor of Evolutionary Biology are doing in Ethiopia to study personality, temperament, and stress in gelada baboons.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Texas Association of Biological Anthropologists (TABA) annual conference

From Katie Binetti, President of the Texas Association of Biological Anthropologists:
"TABA is fledgling organization that exists to promote scholarship and fellowship amongst the Biological Anthropology community in Texas. Our main activity is a yearly meeting where faculty and student research is presented. We are also working on an official organization website that would serve to promote public awareness of the Biological Anthropology research currently being conducted at and through Texas academic institutions."

TABA's website is not yet operational, so BANDIT is delighted to help them out by posting information about the upcoming conference.
Where: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
When: November 5-6, 2010
Schedule: Plenary on Friday with Dr. Kaye Reed, Program Director for Physical Anthropology at the National Science Foundation, and Associate Professor and Research Scientist with the Institute of Human Origins and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. Presentations on Saturday.
Meeting format: AAPA
Registration deadline: October 15, 2010
Registration cost: $20 for faculty, $5 for students

More details here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Whodunit? Navigating authorship

I'm in the midst of prepping and mapping out several publications that arise from various collaborative projects and I'm trying to figure out authorship order. Ugh. In several cases, I'm doing the bulk (and in some cases, all) of the study design, data analysis, stats, and writing so I'm obviously the first author, right? Weeelll....not so fast. While I'm still building a record of first-authored papers, my mentors are alerting me to the need for some last-authored papers prior to tenure, to demonstrate my position as an independent researcher. Then what do I do with all the various collaborators, students, former mentors, current benefactors, etc. in the middle? Yikes. And it's difficult to see the distinction when the "person who did the bulk of the work" (traditionally first author slot) and "senior person" (traditionally last author slot) are one and the same.

I'm learning that a lot of this is discipline specific and what is conventional in anthropology may be quite a bit different from the norm in the biomedical or health sciences, where several of us publish (and where I make my current institutional home). Adding to the confusion, your local promotion and tenure committee may have an idea about what authorship order signifies that differs from what you and your discipline think. What I'm hearing from my mentors is that disciplinary conventions are fine to follow, but that I should be prepared to defend those decisions, both in my own voice and also in the letters from outside tenure referrees. I think a good start is to write up a "who did what" document for each publication - some journals *require* such a statement - and tuck it away in your tenure file, so you can easily refer to this when the time comes. Best practice is to have a conversation with collaborators at the project's inception regarding authorship rather than wait until you're about to submit and find out there's a dispute.

Maybe this link will help us figure it out. While it is specifically geared toward Nature journals, the advice and the associated links are generic enough to be broadly applicable. See also this, this, and this for additional guidelines.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Academic Voyeurism (or: The doctoral program rankings are released)

The doctoral program rankings are out. Check it out. Hours of fun and consternation await!

Picking your battles on the tenure track

Great essay in the Chronicle of Higher Ed on what probationary (i.e. pre-tenure) faculty should know about stepping into the political fray within their departments. Always be aware that no matter how "justified" you view your instances of speaking up for just causes, if you speak up too often and too forcefully early in your career, you could be labeled a troublemaker and this could spell trouble come tenure time.

This same topic is discussed at great length throughout the CHE forums under the more colorful and descriptive umbrella of STFU: Shut the F&*% Up. See here, here, and here for examples of this principle in action.

New Doctoral Program Rankings To Be Released Today

A sequal to the 1982 and 1995 rankings, the new National Research Council rankings of doctoral programs takes into account "faculty publications, grants, citations, graduate students' time to degree, GRE scores, and reputation of programs." The Chronicle of Higher Education launches an interactive site today in conjunction with the study, so stay tuned....

Monday, September 27, 2010

MPIG 2010 has gone, but it won't be forgotten...

Wow, what a fantastic weekend! The Distinguished Primatologist award to Russ Tuttle and the reception that followed at the the Field Museum was a wonderful way to start. Many thanks to Robert Martin for a truly elegant evening. On Saturday at UIC, we started with coffee and bagels (REAL bagels from New York Bagel and Bialy up in Skokie - to die for), then launched into one of MPIG's finest scientific programs yet: a full slate of 16 podium presentations, followed by an afternoon poster session - 34 posters in all. During the poster session the E. Lloyd DuBrul Comparative Skeletal Archives was open to attendees - an amazing collection of mostly craniofacial and dental specimens, prepared by one of the bioanthropological forefathers of comparative dentition, Dr. E. Lloyd DuBrul, who was on faculty in the UIC College of Dentistry for several decades. We wrapped up all the hard work with a great party at my place on Saturday night - thanks to all who came to celebrate the close of another successful MPIG. Can't wait 'til next year!

Photos of the event will be posted soon at so stay tuned...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

MPIG is here!!!

I am so excited - MPIG comes to Chicago this weekend! We kick it off at the Field Museum tomorrow night to honor Russell Tuttle, MPIG's Distinguished Primatologist for 2010, then take it to UIC on Saturday for a full day of some fantastic science. Lots of students, both undergrad and grad, will be there presenting their work - very excited for them. Will post a recap after the weekend.

Check out for details and to download a copy of the program.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Michaela Howells is awesome!

Michaela Howells, MA '05 Iowa State, currently a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado, is first author on a paper in early view in the American Journal of Primatology.

Patterns of gastro-intestinal parasites and commensals as an index of population and ecosystem health: the case of sympatric western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) and guinea baboons (Papio hamadryas papio) at Fongoli, Senegal
Michaela E. Howells, Jill Pruetz, Thomas R. Gillespie

The exponential decline of great apes over the past 50 years has resulted in an urgent need for data to inform population viability assessment and conservation strategies. Health monitoring of remaining ape populations is an important component of this process. In support of this effort, we examined endoparasitic and commensal prevalence and richness as proxies of population health for western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) and sympatric guinea baboons (Papio hamadryas papio) at Fongoli, Senegal, a site dominated by woodland-savanna at the northwestern extent of chimpanzees' geographic range. The small population size and extreme environmental pressures experienced by Fongoli chimpanzees make them particularly sensitive to the potential impact of pathogens. One hundred thirty-two chimpanzee and seventeen baboon fecal samples were processed using sodium nitrate floatation and fecal sedimentation to isolate helminth eggs, larvae, and protozoal cysts. Six nematodes (Physaloptera sp., Ascaris sp., Stronglyloides fuelleborni, Trichuris sp., an unidentified hookworm, and an unidentified larvated nematode), one cestode (Bertiella sp.), and five protozoans (Iodamoeba buetschlii, Entamoeba coli, Troglodytella abrassarti, Troglocorys cava, and an unidentified ciliate) were detected in chimpanzee fecal samples. Four nematodes (Necator sp., S. fuelleborni, Trichuris sp., and an unidentified hookworm sp.), two trematodes (Shistosoma mansoni and an unidentified fluke), and six protozoans (Entamoeba histolytica/dispar, E. coli, Chilomastix mesnili, Balantidium coli, T. abrassarti, and T. cava) were detected in baboon fecal samples. The low prevalence of pathogenic parasite species and high prevalence of symbiotic protozoa in Fongoli chimpanzees are indicative of good overall population health. However, the high prevalence of pathogenic parasites in baboons, who may serve as transport hosts, highlight the need for ongoing pathogen surveillance of the Fongoli chimpanzee population and point to the need for further research into the epidemiology and cross-species transmission ecology of zoonotic pathogens at this site.

New owl monkey conservation grant program from ASP

Fantastic announcement from the American Society of Primatologists:

"The ASP Conservation Committee is pleased to announce a new grants competition, the Brumback Aotus Conservation Grant, to support conservation-related research on owl monkeys (Aotus). This opportunity has generously been made possible by Dr. Roger Brumback, currently Professor of Pathology and Psychiatry at Creighton University School of Medicine, whose research in the 1970s contributed greatly to our knowledge of Aotus cytogenetics. In fact, in recognition of his important work, a species of Aotus was named after him: Aotus brumbacki. [For more information, see the ASP June 2000 Bulletin.]

ASP intends to make up to three awards of $3000 - $5000 each. Please note that grant funds cannot be used to reimburse expenses already incurred. The application deadline is December 1st, 2010. Decisions will be announced on Jan 31st, 2011.
To apply, please visit to download an application form. Applications must be emailed in pdf format to ASP Conservation Chair, Dr. Erin Riley ( Contact Dr. Riley with any questions."

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to write less badly

I like the premise of this article: as researchers we're not expected to be great writers, just not terrible writers. Aim high, people!

From the article: "Fortunately, the standards of writing in most disciplines are so low that you don't need to write well. What I have tried to produce below are 10 tips on scholarly nonfiction writing that might help people write less badly."

A couple of my favorites:
"5. Everyone's unwritten work is brilliant. And the more unwritten it is, the more brilliant it is. We have all met those glib, intimidating graduate students or faculty members. They are at their most dangerous holding a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, in some bar or at an office party. They have all the answers. They can tell you just what they will write about, and how great it will be. Years pass, and they still have the same pat, 200-word answer to "What are you working on?" It never changes, because they are not actually working on anything, except that one little act."

"7. Write, then squeeze the other things in. Put your writing ahead of your other work. I happen to be a "morning person," so I write early in the day. Then I spend the rest of my day teaching, having meetings, or doing paperwork. You may be a "night person" or something in between. Just make sure you get in the habit of reserving your most productive time for writing. Don't do it as an afterthought or tell yourself you will write when you get a big block of time. Squeeze the other things in; the writing comes first."

Now, all I have to do is follow some of this advice....

Keeping track of the job search

Great post in today's Chronicle of Higher Ed, listing some means of keeping on top of the 2011-2012 job postings: rss feeds, Twitter, listservs, etc. Also some great tips in the comments sections on keeping track of your personal job search - deadlines, letters sent, using Interfolio - all kinds of goodies to help you this job season.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MPIG program is available!

Sweet biscuits, the MPIG 2010 program is now online at! Lots of BANDITs will be presenting and hobnobbing. It will be epic.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Updates to the job wiki

Hey folks, hope you've been keeping track of the emerging bioanthro job market .

Here are some links to biology posting.

Anatomy folks ought to be looking here for job openings.

Good luck everyone!

Separating the wheat from the chaff

A question from a BANDIT member: "I am holding my first seminar for undergrads and one of the things I want to teach them is how to read a scientific paper and also how to detect BS. I found too many resources on the web...going through them to assess their quality will take a very long while...Would you be so kind as to ask your blog followers to recommend good guides?"

What say you, fellow BANDITS? What resources can you recommend? I think this is an excellent idea for an undergraduate seminar topic so I'm also curious to see your suggestions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MPIG 2010 is nearly upon us...

The Midwest Primate Interest Group 7th annual meeting takes place in Chicago, September 24-25, at the Field Museum and the University of Illinois at Chicago. We have 49 (!!!) presentations scheduled, including 16 podium talks, a symposium of 10 posters on Great Ape Research at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and 23 additional posters! It's an amazing lineup of research, not to mention the opening night events at the Field Museum: private guided tours of Evolving Planet and Ancient Americas, and the presentation of the 2010 Distinguished Primatologist award to Russell Tuttle.

Registration is accepted at the door, so it's not too late to make plans to attend! Keep an eye on for the detailed program which is going to be posted in the next couple of days.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cortisol concentrations in milk predict temperament in offspring!

There is some tremendously exciting work being done lately on programming elements of milk: early life influences on milk composition, effects of milk composition on development, etc. Here's yet another fascinating study, co-authored by BANDIT members Erin Sullivan and Katie Hinde along with Sally Mendoza and John Capitanio, all of the University of California at Davis: Cortisol concentrations in the milk of rhesus monkey mothers are associated with confident temperament in sons, but not daughters

One pathway by which infant mammals gain information about their environment is through ingestion of milk. We assessed the relationship between stress-induced cortisol concentrations in milk, maternal and offspring plasma, and offspring temperament in rhesus monkeys. Milk was collected from mothers after a brief separation from their infants at 3–4 months postpartum, and blood was drawn at this time for both mothers and infants. Offspring temperament was measured at the end of a 25-hr assessment. Cortisol concentrations in milk were in a range comparable to those found in saliva, and were positively correlated with maternal plasma levels. Mothers of males had higher cortisol concentrations in milk than did mothers of females, and cortisol concentrations in maternal milk were related to a Confident temperament factor in sons, but not daughters. This study provides the first evidence that naturally occurring variation in endogenous glucocorticoid concentrations in milk are associated with infant temperament.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Teaching Philosophy

Job searchers, you have one of these, right? While all of your job letters should outline your basic thoughts on teaching and your interest in specific courses, inevitably at least one of the schools you apply to will require a separate statement of teaching philosophy. Since most of us have not been educated as educators, formalizing a philosophy is a real challenge, and it is tempting to ignore this aspect of your application until the last minute. Don't! Particularly because the schools that want a statement are most likely schools that value teaching. A lackluster teaching statement could quash your application.

What to do? In 4 Steps to a Memorable Teaching Philosophy, James Lang attempts to inject the sad teaching statement with a little zing and personality. The problem with these documents is that they are usually so generic:
"The same basic ideas and buzzwords appear in just about every teaching statement I have ever read. Everybody cares about the students, wants to challenge them, runs a student-centered classroom, relies on a mixture of lecture and discussion or other techniques, puts students first, is available to students outside the classroom, loves teaching, has learned a lot from students, integrates research and teaching, and so on and so on."

In my own statement, I share personal stories: my mother was my English teacher in a rural town outside Cleveland, and she was masterful at injecting the study of Shakespeare with enough soap opera drama to keep small-town kids engrossed; my 6th grade biology teacher Mr. Thompson was a genius who acted like a clown in class, and he kept sneaking me worms during dissection because he saw how interested I was in the inner workings. Teachers who inspired me to inspire my own students by paying attention. Get personal about your classroom experiences, as a student and a teacher.

From student/postdoc to professor

Many of us are in our first year as "the professor" - it can be a rude awakening. The career advice gurus of the Chronicle of Higher Education have spoken with several professors to get their take on how to navigate that first year. Here is the piece of advice that resonates most strongly for me:
"Joining a department means getting to know a lot of new people and how they get along (or not). The junior faculty member who chose to remain anonymous received some good advice on that: "The chair of my grad program told me that the best idea was to conduct an ethnography the moment you get into a department. You have to know who the players are and what the issues are. ... At the end of the day, oftentimes the decisions in committee meetings are not personal—they are historically based, and so you have to learn not to take them personally." That advice helped him keep a sense of perspective during faculty meetings."

Learning the local culture, history, politics isn't always easy because the system you're entering may be pretty closed, but keeping in mind that historical, non-personal perspective will really help preserve your sanity and override the paranoia that comes with the territory.

I would add that you need to remind yourself that YOU BELONG THERE. Remember how grueling the job search was - you're there because the department thought you were the best fit and they are excited to have you. You will absolutely feel that you're in over your head, and there will be times when you're not quite sure what you should be doing throughout the day, but you do belong there. And in time, you'll actually believe it!
Best of luck to all our first-year BANDIT profs!

Erratum in American Anthropologist

As part of the annual year-in-review issue of American Anthropologist, I offered my take on developments and themes in biological anthropology in 2009. I started the piece by recognizing 2009 as Darwin Year - the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. I described the intellectual richness of our discipline as a "tangled bank of ideas," an allusion to Darwin's phrase from the closing paragraphs of Origin:
"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us."

You can bet I was pretty pleased with that little bit of wordplay, but less so when the phrase came out in print as the "tangled BARK." Oh. NO. So I want to enthusiastically thank the very good people at American Anthropologist for issuing an erratum in the September issue, correcting the wording to read:
"Whereas the disciplinary divides may seem more obvious between the primary branches off the mother trunk, a tangled bank of ideas and the seemingly limitless intellectual radiations of the human brain have yielded nearly as many specialties as there are people to specialize in them."

All is right with the world.