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Department of Anthropology

Emily Brennan and Allison Ham awarded National Science Foundation grants

Emily Brennan and Allison Ham are Ph.D. candidates who were awarded National Science Foundation grants for their research related to biological anthropology.

Exciting news! In Fall 2021, the department’s very own Emily Brennan and Allison Ham have been awarded each a National Science Foundation grant for their doctoral research. Emily Brennan’s research is titled A Life Course Approach to Population Health in Medieval Berlin. She explains her research in the following quote,

"This project will explore patterns in health from the 13th to 18th century in Berlin during a time of urban growth, climatic variability during the Little Ice Age, and cultural changes from the Reformation. By utilizing a life course framework, we can better capture frailty and estimate health by examining the timing and pattern of physiological stress responses that manifest across a lifespan. Traditional skeletal stress markers will be paired with measurements of cortical bone from radiological scans to evaluate how biological/structural/cultural factors affect morbidity and mortality profiles for both adults and non-adults. By investigating stress response within a life course framework, this project will contribute to the understanding of mechanisms that drive the impacts of stress, how they are embodied and embedded in different contexts."

Alison Ham’s research is titled Sex Differentials in Frailty in Medieval Ireland. Introducing her research, she explains in the provided summary,

 “Across the majority of living human populations, females appear less frail (i.e., have lower age-specific mortality risks) and typically experience longer lifespans compared to males, but report higher rates of disability and poorer overall health at older ages – a phenomenon known as the female health-mortality paradox. This project explores sex differentials in frailty (i.e., relative risk of death compared to others in the population) in medieval Ireland to address the existing temporal and contextual limitations for interpreting how far back the modern female health-mortality paradox extends. By using skeletal stress markers in conjunction with statistical models suited to archaeological samples, this study will contribute a deeper understanding of the biological and social mechanisms that increase sex-based mortality risks and produce health disparities both in the past and present.”

Congratulations, Emily and Allison!

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