Areas of Research in the Department of Anthropology

The Department of Anthropology conducts research in theoretical and methodological areas of anthropology within the subfields of archaeology, cultural anthropology, and physical anthropology.


The archaeology program offers research opportunities oriented toward a broad range of issues in a variety of field and laboratory settings. Theoretical pursuits of the faculty include demographic growth and decline, the meaning of art and iconographic images, the organization of technology and production systems, cultural constructions of the past, and the origins and evolution of complex societies. Faculty research experience encompasses Northeast and Central America, Europe, and the Southwest Asia. The greatest strength is in European archaeology, which is unique among American archaeology programs. Currently, students are incorporated into field research programs in Albania, Austria, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Israel, Kamchatka, Northern Ireland, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine. In addition, a variety of laboratory resources are available, including a GIS laboratory, a Multimedia laboratory, a Cultural Resource Management division, and a Research Museum housing extensive collections from Western New York and central Mexico. We have outstanding methodological strength in archaeometry, arctic archaeology, cognitive archaeology, dermatoglyphics, environmental archaeology with a focus on palaeoclimate, heritage, landscape archaeology, digital archaeology, spatial analysis, and technological and stylistic analyses of artifacts. Strong connections are maintained with the Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology (IEMA) and the Departments of Geology, Geography, and Classics.

Archaeology Faculty
Professor: Sarunas Milisauskas, Ezra B. Zubrow

Associate Professors: Warren Barbour, Peter F. Biehl, Tina L. Thurston

Adjunct Professor and Director, Archaeological Survey: Douglas J. Perrelli

Cultural Anthropology

The cultural anthropology program offers comprehensive training in a variety of contemporary theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. Faculty research interests cluster around 1) semantics, semiotics, and interpretive theory, as well as issues of representation, including narrative ethnography and visual anthropology; 2) studies of the nation-state, including topics of education, social justice, war and ethnic conflict, religion, government, law, health care, and immigration; and 3) medical anthropology, including applied medical anthropology, ethnomedicine, and ethnopsychiatry. Members of our faculty have research experience in the Americas (North, Central, and South), Europe, West Africa, and southeast Asia. The cultural anthropology program encourages graduate students to use summers to gain research experience at an early stage in their training, and has been very successful in helping graduate students locate such opportunities. Faculty members have formal ties and research connections with the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Geographical Medicine, and local hospitals), the Center for Clinical Ethics and Humanities, the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, the Humanities Institute, the Center for Cognitive Science, and the Center for European Studies (CEUS).

Cultural Anthropology Faculty
Professors: David Banks, Deborah E. Reed-Danahay, Barbara Tedlock

Associate Professors: Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, Ann P. McElroy, Donald Pollock,
Phillips Stevens, Jr.

Assistant Professors: Jaume Franquesa, Tilman Lanz (Visiting Assistant Professor), Vasiliki Neofotistos

Physical Anthropology

Physical anthropology provides a solid grounding in evolutionary theory. Within the broad field of primatology, faculty interests focus on primate social behavior, descriptive and functional anatomy of nonhuman primates, and population genetics. Emeritus faculty interests focus on adaptive human biology, including factors affecting growth and health, and work capacity in contemporary populations. Methodologically, strengths include anthropometry, ethological methods, osteological and dental analysis, comparative primate anatomy, and methods of population genetics. Current field research in primate behavior is being conducted in China and Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. Other resources available include an extensive nonhuman primate skeletal collection, consisting of hundreds of complete macaque skeletons, and a unique collection of over 200, known aged macaque fetuses along with their associated radiographs. In addition, the department is the repository for a nineteenth-century cemetery skeletal collection.

Physical Anthropology Faculty
Professors: Carol M. Berman, Joyce E. Sirianni

Associate Professor: Christine R. Duggleby
Emeritus Professor: Theodore Steegmann

Medical Anthropology (M.A. Concentration)

Medical Anthropology is one of the most popular subfields of our discipline, and one of the few that offers job opportunities for students with M.A. degrees. Medical Anthropology is also a popular subfield for students planning to enter professional degree programs in health-related fields, including Medicine, Public Health, Nursing and Allied Health disciplines, etc.


This M.A. concentration consists of 30 credits, most of these taken in formal courses, a research project, and a research paper or thesis based on that project. Students will take at least 3 semesters to complete this M.A., and the majority of students will take no more than 4 semesters.

Requirements, Electives, and Options

Students in this concentration are required to take APY 654 (Survey of Culture Theory) or APY 651 (Survey of Physical Anthropology); students may take both if they wish. In addition, all students will take APY 508 (Qualitative Research Methods). Students take at least 24 additional credits from the courses listed below or, with the approval of the advisor, from appropriate courses in the UB School of Public Health, the School of Medicine, or the School of Nursing. In any case, students may only use 6 credits from non-anthropology courses toward their M.A. degree.

Students in this Medical Anthropology track will not take a qualifying exam. Each student will undertake an approved research project, developed in consultation with the advisor, and will write a research paper or thesis based on that research. The research paper or thesis must be approved by the advisor and one other member of the Department of Anthropology. Both faculty members must be members of the Graduate Faculty. Students in the Medical Anthropology concentration may apply to the PhD program in Anthropology, and will be subject to the same admissions criteria and procedures as other PhD program applicants.

Relevant Elective Courses

Students will choose most of their courses from this list, and may take other relevant courses with the advisor’s approval.

545 Dental Anthropology

546 Physical Anthropology Topics 
548 Human Genetics- Legal and Ethical Issues

556 Religion and Society
578 Ethnomedicine
565 Gender & Healing in Latin America
576 Health Care in U.S.
584 Transcultural Psychiatry
594 Advanced Physical Anthropology
603 Applied Medical Anthropology

604 Topics in Medical Anthropology
604 Culture and Disability  [N.B. This course number will change]
606 Anthropology of Reproduction

607 Individual Readings Physical Anthropology
710 Geographic Medicine
721 Physical Anthropology Research Methods


Department of Anthropology | 380 MFAC-Ellicott Complex | Buffalo, NY 14261-0005
Phone: (716) 645-2414 | Fax: (716) 645-3808
College of Arts and Sciences 2010
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