Research Centers & Labs

Matt Edling
EAL Managing Director

Dr. Katherine Hayes
Archaeology Lab Director

 Explore our research opportunities

The biological anthropology and archaeology labs are research and teaching facilities established in 1999 with funding from the National Science Foundation and the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota.

The labs concern themselves with the study of the human condition—past and present—from the perspective of modern evolutionary theory. It is a multidisciplinary endeavor bringing together data and theoretical perspectives from archaeology, paleoanthropology, physical anthropology, and primatology.


The Anthropological Genetics Laboratories applies molecular approaches, including the study of ancient and modern genomes, to study human evolutionary and population history. Our facilities include a dedicated Ancient DNA clean room facility and a Molecular Genetics Laboratory.


  • Class 10,000 HEPA filtered clean room dedicated to processing of skeletal remains
  • Low and ultra low temperature freezers
  • Laminar flow hoods
  • Class II Biosafety Cabinet
  • Fume hood
  • Water purification system
  • Fluorometer
  • Autoclave 
  • Refrigerated centrifuge
  • Analytical and precision balances

Our Center for Imaging and Morphometric Analysis is home to cutting-edge photographic and 3D surface-scanning technology for creating high-resolution digital representations of research objects. Industry-leading software for 3D design, data capture, and statistical analysis provides student and faculty investigators with the analytical power to pursue research at the forefront of the prehistoric sciences. Students may also access our digital resources (preferably with Google Chrome).


  • Microscopes with video capture
  • 3D laser and white-light scanners (Transcan C., David, Breuckmann)
  • Microscribe 3D point digitizers
  • Object rigs for three-dimensional photography and photogrammetry
  • Computer workstations with dedicated graphics cards
  • Research workspace

Located in 318 Blegen Hall, the Evolutionary Anthropology Laboratory (EAL), serves a dual purpose as a research and teaching facility. In EAL, our faculty and students meet at the intersection of research and teaching to study the human condition in its past and present forms.

This work is multidisciplinary, with a strong emphasis on both empirical data and theoretical perspectives drawing from archaeology, paleoanthropology, physical anthropology, geology, and primatology.


  • Teaching collections of archaeological and osteological material

This is a state-of-the-art facility for teaching human evolution with an extensive collection of casts of hominid and other fossils, as well as comparative anatomical materials. The teaching lab is used for laboratory sections of ANTH 1001: Human Evolution.


  • Collection of hominid casts.  

Located in 340 Blegen Hall, our lithics lab is designed to provide space for students to get hands-on experience with the processes of stone toolmaking.


  • Lithic collections
  • Lithics raw materials
  • Specially vented knapping space
  • Protective gear for knapping

The mission of the Mammalian Osteology Laboratory is to provide research experience to undergraduates in the study of biological and other materials in archaeology, paleoanthropology, and closely related fields.

Located in 360 Blegen Hall, this lab is equipped for the macroscopic and microscopic study of plant and animal remains and geological samples.

With space designed for instruction of small groups, students learn to use a wide range of laboratory equipment, collect data from several different types of material, and process those data using in-house database management hardware and software. More than a dozen undergraduate students take part in ongoing research projects each year in our main research laboratories. Some of this work is funded by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

Other students pursue independent studies or senior projects, and still others volunteer to work in our labs simply because it is a fun and enriching experience.


  • Advanced lab courses in biological anthropology and archaeology
  • Transmitted and incident light microscopes
  • Computer workstations
  • Fume hoods
  • Centrifuge
  • Materials for preparing botanical samples
  • Phytolith and soil sample processing facilities
  • Research workspace
  • The NC Tappen primate osteology collection
  • Taphonomy collection
  • Mammalian osteology reference collection

The mission of this lab is to provide the instruments and space necessary for carrying out microarchaeological analyses on artifacts and archaeological sediments. 

Undergraduate students carry out research for senior theses, laboratory internships, and freshman research awards in this lab every year. Graduate students, postdocs, and faculty use it regularly for archaeological research on multiple projects throughout the world.


  • Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer (Nicolet iS5)
  • Large centrifuge
  • Mini centrifuge
  • Ultrasonicating tank
  • Flotation equipment
  • Desiccators
  • Fume hoods
  • Leica MZ16A Stereoscope 

The North American Archaeology lab, located in 86 Heller Hall, exists as a research and teaching facility dedicated to the investigation of the North American archaeology with a particular focus on Minnesota. Contact Professor Katherine Hayes for advice on research opportunities.


  • Dedicated laboratory space with artifact processing and analysis space for use by students and project PIs
  • Niton XL3t portable x-ray fluorescence analyzer for non-destructive testing of chemical composition. Can be used in-house for testing of artifacts and soil samples (includes processing equipment), or on-site, and is particularly useful for analysis of museum collections
  • Polarizing transmitted light microscope (Leica DM2500P with digital camera) for petrographic thin-section analysis
  • Leica MZ16A Stereoscope 
  • Extensive reference library of Minnesota archaeology and American historical archaeology
  • Comparative lithic and ceramic collections, Minnesota and Upper Midwest materials
  • Additional space for analyses in the Evolutionary Anthropology Labs

Additionally, we have access to the equipment that is managed by the College of Liberal Art's Advanced Imaging Service for Objects and Spaces (AISOS). This equipment includes: structured light scanners, photogrammetry rigs, reflectance transformation imaging rigs, Hitachi TM4000Plus tabletop scanning electron microscope, Nanovea Jr25 3D non-contact profilometer, FARO Focus M70 terrestrial LiDAR unit, and a gigamacro.