2018 Program Dates: May 14 - July 6, 2018


The University of Northern Colorado and the University of Georgia, with support from the National Science Foundation, jointly run the REU Site. The purpose of this NSF REU Site is to provide undergraduate students with an opportunity to gain experience in independent research design and field/lab methods training. Students will complete independent research projects during the course of the program. These projects require different students to concentrate on different particular methods and approaches, but all students receive exposure to all research methods (see "About" section for methods students may be trained in in a given year). 

Orientation in Athens, Georgia, USA

Students arrive in Athens, Georgia, for a four-day orientation at UGA (students are responsible for their own transportation to the Atlanta airport and will be taken as a group from ATL to UGA. Students with financial need may qualify for need-based scholarships for domestic airfar). During orientation, students are guided to hone the research proposals they developed as part of the application.

Three weeks in Sicily, Italy

After the four-day orientation, REU participants travel together to Palermo, Italy. During three weeks in Italy, students learn about the history and prehistory of Italy, and the contributions of bioarchaeology to understanding major human transitions in the past through hands-on, participatory learning experiences.

The majority of student time in Italy is spent recording osteological and paleopathological information from human skeletal remains, and collecting data for their independent research projects. Time is also devoted to advanced seminars/workshops/group discussion.


Photo: Chiesa Madre Santa Fara, Cinisi, Sicily

mass graveburial

Stefano Vassallo shares photographs of human burials that he and his team have excavated from Himera. See more

Four weeks in University of Georgia Laboratories

During the laboratory portion of this program students work with research mentors in laboratories on their independent projects. Students (1) tour research labs across campus, (2) learn and practice advanced laboratory techniques, (3) apply quantitative methods that are individualized to their independent research projects, (4) participate in professional development seminars, (5) produce a research abstract and poster detailing research findings, and (6) present posters at a forum at UGA.


Students acquire field and lab skills. Research projects may include:

  • Osteology
  • Paleopathology
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Stable isotope biogeochemistry
  • aDNA analysis
  • Dental histology
  • Dental microwear analysis
  • Activity pattern analysis
  • Dating methods
  • Mortuary analysis
  • Biodistance analysis


University of Northern Colorado undergraduate student Melissa Chowning (2016 season) works with research mentor Carey Garland, a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia, embedding archaeological tooth specimens in epoxy before dental histological research in the Bioarchaeology and Biochemistry Laboratory at UGA. Photo: L. Reitsema.

After the Program

After presenting research at a poster symposium on the final day of the program, students are strongly encouraged to participate in academic conferences during the subsequent year(s) alongside other program alumni and the program directors. Students also are encouraged to develop their research into publishable format, and receive guidance and training in academic writing and publishing skills during and following the program.

 In 2017, all of the 2016 students reunited in New Orleans for the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists to present their research:


Image: The entire 2016 REU cohort reunites to present research at the international annual meeting of biological anthropology's flagship organization, The American Association of Physical Anthropologists, in April 2017. Far left: program co-directors Prof. Laurie Reitsema and Prof. Britney Kyle.


Left: Julianne stands in front of her poster about strontium isotope evidence for "foreign" soldiers in the Battles of Himera (480 BC and 409 BC) with program co-director, Prof. Laurie Reitsema. Right: Vanessa explains her research about the extent of in-migration to the colony of Himera as inferred from oxygen isotope ratios of human tooth enamel.

Janelle and Abdul

Left: Janelle explains her research on selective mortality and the osteological paradox comparing catastrophic deaths from the Battles of Himera (480 BC and 409 BC) with other burials at Himera. Right: Abdul explains his research on childhood stress at Himera as inferred from enamel defects that formed on teeth following stressful events.