sepb.jpg Dr. Suzanne Pilaar Birch, Director

I joined UGA in the fall of 2014 and have a joint appointment in the departments of Anthropology and Geography. In addition, I am the director of the Quaternary Isotope Paleoecology Laboratory and an adjunct curator at the Georgia Museum of Natural History. 

My academic research is focused on human adaptation and resilience to climate change and natural resource unpredictability in prehistory, and how our understanding of past human response to environmental change informs current thinking about these issues. 

I combine archaeology and biogeochemistry to investigate changes in diet, mobility, and settlement systems in the period spanning the end of the last ice age to the arrival of farming. 

I am an active advocate of open access publishing and online data and research sharing and am co-editor-in-chief of the journal Open Quaternary. I also co-founded and moderate the blog TrowelBlazers, which highlights women in the fields of archaeology, paleontology, and geology. 

My other research interests include the initial domestication of livestock, diffusion of domesticates across Eurasia, the transition from hunting to herding, seasonality and human mobility, multispecies archaeology, and advancing methodologies in zooarchaeology and stable isotope analysis. 

Questions? Get in touch!
Email: sepbirch [at]
Twitter: @suzie_birch

Graduate Students

medium_maria.png María José Rivera Araya, M.Sc. Geography. Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Pilaar Birch

Education: B.A. Anthropology (Honors), B.S. Chemistry, Universidad de Costa Rica
Awards: Fulbright Foreign Student Program 2015-2016, Delta Kappa Gamma World Fellowship 2015-2016

I am interested in the use of stable isotope analysis to study human ecology in the past. Particularly, to understand human – environment interactions during the Holocene and how these relations were influenced by natural events and climate change.

medium_profile pic1.jpg Katharine Napora, Ph.D., Anthropology. Advisor: Dr. Victor Thompson

I am an environmental archaeologist whose research focuses on human-ecosystem interactions along both the European and North American coastlines of the Atlantic. I combine analyses of tree rings, shells and other faunal remains, and coastal palaeohydrology in order to better understand the localized manifestations of climate change episodes in the ancient past and how these shifts intersected with cultural trajectories.

medium_Working in Lab_0.JPG Jiaying Wu, Ph.D., Geography. Advisor: Dr. David Porinchu

Hi, I am a Ph.D. student in the Geography Department, working with Dr. David Porinchu. Tropical climate was thought to be stable during the Holocene (last 10,000 years). However, in recent decades, numerous proxy-based paleo-environmental reconstructions, developed for central to southern Costa Rica, have led to the rejection of the assumption of tropical climate stability, and also led to the discussion of the influence of anthropogenic impacts on the landscape during prehistoric times. As a paleoclimatologist, understanding how long-term tropical climate varies and disentangling how tropical climate influences landscape change in the geologic past are my top research interests. Specifically, my dissertation project aims at reconstructing Holocene (the past 10000 year) temperature change in the Chirripo National Park in the central massif of Costa Rica by using subfossil chironomids preserved in glacial lakes. I am very excited about the potential of my project and I am looking forward to combining my paleoclimate reconstructions with what is known of past human activities to interpret landscape change in Costa Rica during the Holocene. 

medium_10377264_10103504333354710_2897815949758007364_n.jpg Danielle Haskett, Ph.D. Geography. Advisor: Dr. David Porinchu

Danielle Haskett received her B.S. in Geology in 2004 from the University of Georgia.  She spent the next six years as a gemologist studying diamonds with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). During this time she lived in New Orleans, New York, and Atlanta where she experienced three dramatic weather events that informed her decision to go to graduate school: Hurricane Katrina in 2005; a massive NYC storm in 2007 that flooded the subways and spawned tornadoes; and a 500-year flood in Atlanta in 2009.   Having experienced such dramatic influences of a warming climate first hand, she was determined to contribute to the science on global climate change.  She earned her Master’s degree in geography at the University of Georgia in 2013 and included work on a famous fossil find known as the Snowmastadon Site. She is currently working on the third year of her PhD in the geography.  She studies climatic and environmental change of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. These environments are particularly sensitive to climate change and she is interested in how glacial meltwater will affect aquatic benthic ecosystems. She is very excited that she gets to travel to high elevation lakes for research and gets to look at the microscopic remains of insects every day.

Clara Sophia Reini, Ph.D. Anthropology. Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Pilaar Birch

Isabelle Lulewicz, Ph.D. Anthropology. Advisor: Dr. Victor Thompson

Kelly Cronin, Ph.D. Geology. Advisor: Dr. Sally Walker

Cullen Lapointe, M.Sc. Geology. Advisor:Dr. Sally Walker

Undergraduate Students


small_josh.jpg Josh Glass, B.A. Anthropology 2017



small_janae_0.jpg Janae Lunsford, B.A. Anthropology and History 2017

small_morrison.jpg Morrison Nolan, B.Sc. Geology and Chemistry 2017

small_laura.jpg Laura Dupont, B.Sc. Geology and Anthropology 2017

small_hannah working.jpg Hannah Trader, B.A. Anthropology 2017

small_jonah conference.jpg Jonah Buxton, B.A. Anthropology 2017


small_onyale.jpg Onyale Donloe, B.S. Biology/B.A. Anthropology 2016

small_kelly.jpg Kelly Brown, B.A. Anthropology 2015