Spring 2024 Newsletter

UMN campus in the spring time

Greetings from the Department of Anthropology, 

With so many exciting things happening in Anthropology right now, we wanted to share with you news and updates from our department. 

This issue of the newsletter emphasizes some of the path-breaking science emerging from our department, but read carefully and you will find the same abiding themes of interdisciplinarity and intellectual cross-pollination that infused the department during your time here. Our four-field engagement with anthropology thrives, and has been recognized through major awards honoring our work in socio-cultural anthropology and archaeology and restorative justice. Likewise, our newly endowed Beeman Lectureship ensures that current and future students will continue to be exposed to the breadth of anthropological scholarship. 

On those occasions when you find yourself remembering your time in Anthropology—some class or professor, a project or interaction—know that we are doing the same: recalling a student’s insightful comment or exciting lab result or deep discussion during office hours. 

We would love to know where life has taken you, so send us a note, drop by the department, or consider sharing memories or advice with our current students by telling your story. Our many public events are also a great way to stay engaged in the anthropology community, whether you can attend in person or join us online.

Warm regards,

Kieran McNulty
Professor and Chair

Two students working in the Sampling Room of the Ancient DNA Lab, fully covered and wearing masks.

Genetics Lab to Revisit the Past

Comparing ancient and modern DNA helps us understand human evolution. The anthropological genetics lab seeks to reconstruct histories and draw connections between ancient and modern civilizations, especially in understudied populations.

Read "Genetics Lab to Revisit Past"


Drawing of apes climbing trees

New Studies Push Back Evidence for Open Habitats in Africa by More Than 10 Million Years

Two new studies recently published in Science outline a paleoecological reconstruction of early ape fossil sites in eastern Africa dated to the Early Miocene—between 23 and 16 million years ago—showing early apes lived in a wide variety of habitats, including open habitats like scrublands and wooded grasslands that existed 10 million years earlier than previously known. Professor Kieran McNulty is the lead author and organizer of the decade-long project.

Read a research summary of the project findings


Headshot of Kat Hayes in an office

The Intersection of Discovery and Discrepancy

Kat Hayes, the college's 2024 Dean's Medalist, is challenging many of the inherently destructive practices of archaeology while centering representation and inclusion.

Read "The Intersection of Discovery and Discrepancy"


Tenzin Namdul sitting on a stool outside

Bringing Together Modern and Tibetan Medicine

As a recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Emerging Alumni Award, Tenzin Nambul (BA ‘11) merges modern and Tibetan medicine with a shared vision of enhancing healthcare for everyone. 

Read "Bringing Together Modern and Tibetan Medicine"


Our Graduate Students

Field work and research are essential experiences for our graduate students. Last summer, the Beverly & Richard Fink Summer Fellowships helped provide these valuable opportunities for some of our talented and accomplished students. Many thanks to Beverly and Richard for making these opportunities possible.


In Case You Missed It—Alumni Stories

Studying anthropology provides invaluable insights into human societies across the globe, fostering a deeper appreciation of our shared humanity. Our alumni are prepared to ask the deep questions about life and to make connections in their communities—their degrees take them near and far.


Stephen F. Gudeman Lecture

"Settler Colonial Apologia in Two Acts” Dr. Audra Simpson, Columbia University

What is the work of an apology upon a) time b) justice c) governance? This study examines two modalities of the apology—one at the level of the state and one at the level of the individual to take up questions of purported repair in settler colonial contexts. 

April 8, 2024
RSVP by Friday, March 29
Attend in person or by Zoom 

Learn more about the event and RSVP

William O. Beeman Lecture

We are grateful and pleased to announce the launch of the William O. Beeman Lectureship in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology & Linguistics. Professor Emeritus William Beeman, past chair of the Department of Anthropology, endowed a lectureship to bring experts in these fields to the University of Minnesota. Watch for an announcement and invitation in fall 2024.


Sign that says "Recognizing Outstanding Alumni"

2024 Alumni Award Nominations Are Now Open

Let us know which College of Liberal Arts alumni you think deserve extra-special recognition. Submit your nomination by May 31, 2024, to have your candidate considered for an alumni award.

Learn more about CLA alumni awards and submit a nomination


Make a Difference in Your Community During Day of Service

Make plans to join a U of M Alumni Association Day of Service event in your area, a virtual service opportunity, or choose an independent service project meaningful to you. Since 2015, the U of M Alumni Association's Day of Service has brought together a global community of alumni and friends to serve in their communities. Events run through the month of April. Choose from more than a dozen Day of Service opportunities, learn about Virtual Day of Service, or register an independent project.


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