Group Shot

2015 members of the Bioarchaeology and Biochemistry Laboratory. Left to right: Carey Garland (MA), April Dobbs Smith (MA), Sammantha Holder (MA), Katie Reinberger (BA), Dr. Laurie Reitsema (PhD)


The Bioarchaeology and Biochemistry Laboratory is directed by Dr. Laurie Reitsema, and is located in the Department of Anthropology at Baldwin Hall on UGA's North Campus. The laboratory's analytical facility is the Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) on UGA's Riverbend campus, which houses a Nu Instruments NPII Multiple Collector inductively-coupled mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), a Finnigan MAT 251 isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS), a Finnigan MAT 252 IRMS, and a Finnigan MAT Delta Plus XL IRMS.


Stable Isotope Analysis

The lab is fully outfitted for sample preparation for stable isotope analysis, including organic samples (bone, hair, blood components, feces, urine, plants and other foods) and inorganic samples (tooth enamel and bone mineral), and is busy with research projects. Sample extraction from bone is conducted in the wet laboratory space, which is equipped with a fume hood. Sample pre-processing can be accomplished using the laboratory's Spex liquid nitrogen freezer mill, and rotary hand-held drills. Specialized equipment for other stages of sample preparation in the laboratory includes a Labconco freeze-dryer system, centrifuge, chemical-safe oven, Fisher Scientific Isotemp water bath, ball mill, muffle furnace, autoclave, and ultrasonic baths.

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Dental Histology

Current members examine microscopic enamel defects in thin sections of human teeth to understand early-life stress events among archaeological populations. The laboratory possesses a Buehler IsoMet thin-sectioning saw and polarized light microscope for this research.

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Photo: Dental thin-section of a subadult first molar from the 12-14th century site of Gruczno in North-Central Poland (G-1083). White arrow = Internal enamel micro growth defect (Wilson Band); Black arrow = External manifestation of Wilson band (possible micro enamel hypoplasia); lines running parallel to the Wilson band are Striae of Retzius, normal incremental micro growth lines, each representing approximately 9 days of enamel growth).


The laboratory also possesses an Olympus BX50 measuring microscope with bright-field, dark-field and polarized light settings and a video camera connection, capable of both transmitted and reflected light microscopy. Other microscopes include a Stereomaster zoom microscope, also with a camera, and a transmitted light microscope for work with wet samples and slides.

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Photo: Doctoral student S. Holder using the Olympus measuring microscope.

Skeletal Collections

The laboratory curates a research collection of primate skeletons, and fossil and bone cast materials used for teaching Osteology and Bioarchaeology, including the Arizona State University Turner dental morphology cast collection. There is space for paleopathological and osteometric research and the laboratory owns a research-quality PaleoTech osteometric board, and several digital sliding and spreading calipers. 

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Photos: Non-destructive data collection with teeth in the lab. Doctoral students in the BBL collect metric data from teeth (left) and make casts of teeth for dental microwear analysis (right).


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Photo: Instructional Technology. The BBL collaborates with the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology. With help from undergraduate students, Dr. Reitsema and Amanda Thompson are 3D-scanning and printing human teeth for instruction purposes in Human Osteology and Bioarchaeology classes.