Most broadly, my research interests include Bioarchaeology, Paleopathology, Paleoepidemiology, and Biocultural Anthropology. Within these domains, I am broadly interested in the biosocial determinants of health inequalities and disease experiences within past populations. Overall, I explore these dynamics within social bioarchaeology, focusing on bioarchaeological considerations of social identity, especially those pertaining to gender, sex, sexuality, social race, and disability. Within the latter, I am interested in research within the bioarchaeology of care as well as the biosocial impacts of institutionalization, with a particular focus on the late 19th to early 20th century Mississippi State Asylum (MSA), Jackson, MS, within the Asylum Hill Project (https://asylumhillproject.org/Asylum_Hill/Asylum-Hill-Project.html). My research also explores the evolution and social ecology of infectious disease, with a focus on acquired syphilis. In particular, my current research works to reconstruct human host immunological characteristics, including immune status and immune response (i.e. inflammatory phenotype) and heterogeneity in frailty to acquired syphilis. This involves assessing individuals from late 19th and early 20th historical documented collections for insight into how host characteristics, such as age, sex, nutritional status, stress, co-infection (e.g., periodontal disease, tuberculosis), and comorbidity, affect progression to late-stage syphilis. This research aims to improve understandings of heterogeneity in frailty to acquired syphilis and the treponematoses in past populations, with relevance—through translational medicine—to refining prognostic and diagnostic criteria for syphilis in present-day populations.
Recently, my research interests have extended to pandemic infectious disease, especially the 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic, relative to social inequality. Finally, I have additional research interests within ethical teaching, research, and curation of historical documented collections; osteoimmunology; ancient oral microbiomes; paleopathological diagnostics; epidemiological transitions; and early modern English bioarchaeology and paleopathology.
I am associated with ongoing bioarcheological research projects in the UK, Mongolia, St. Croix, and Mississippi, such as the Asylum Hill Project and the Global History of Health Project North China Module, as well as intermittent local projects within various Mississippi communities, such as the Grenada Yellow Fever Cemetery Project.
Within AMEC, I Co-Direct the MSU Bioarchaeology and Forensic Laboratories. And at MSU, I am also a Senior Faculty Research Associate at the Cobb Institute of Archaeology, as well as Affiliated faculty in the African American Studies Program and Program Faculty in the Gender Studies Program. Finally, I am also a Senior Editor of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Oxford University Press.