Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Faculty Update: Peter Lucas and Paul Constantino for their recent publication

The Anthropology Department wishes to congratulate Peter Lucas and Paul Constantino on the publication entitled "Remarkable Resilience of Teeth" in the April 2009 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their research evolved through an interdisciplinary collaboration between anthropologists from The George Washington University and physical scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD.

This research resulted in the discovery of several features in enamel--the outermost tooth tissue--that contribute to the resiliency of human teeth over a lifetime of chewing and biting. The research team found that the major reason why teeth do not break apart is due to the presence of tufts--small, crack-like defects found deep in the enamel. Tufts suppress the growth of these cracks in teeth by distributing the stress amongst themselves.

"This is the first time that enigmatic developmental features, such as enamel tufts, have been shown to have any significance in tooth function," said Constantino. "Crack growth is also hampered by the "basket weave" microstructure of enamel, and by a 'self-healing' process whereby organic material fills cracks extended from the tufts, which themselves also become closed by organic matter. This type of infilling bonds the opposing crack walls, which increases the amount of force required to extend the crack later on."

The team also studied tooth enamel in sea otters, mammals with teeth showing remarkable resemblances to those of humans.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Undergraduate Spotlight: Two Students Win Fulbright Awards

Rachel Snyder(BA Anth candidate 2009) has been awarded a Fulbright Student Research Grant for her project entitled "The Oral Tradition of the Zapara Nationality of Ecuador."

She will be working with NAZAE, an organization of the Zapara Nationality in Puyo, Ecuador. There she will be investigating the oral tradition of Zapara families in and around the urban setting of Puyo in comparison to the oral tradition of Zapara families in rainforest communities. As part of this research, she will relate the group's myths to their daily experiences, identity, and political participation in the Ecuadorian state. Furthermore, as the Zapara language is disappearing, she will be creating a collection of myths in collaboration with the Zapara that will be translated into Zapara, Spanish, and English to be used as a didactic tool in the future. The research will be conducted over a 10 month span.

Lauren Deal (BA Anth w/ Honors 2009)has been awarded a Fulbright Student Research Grant for her project entitled "Singing Self and State: Language, Thought and Politics of Opera Pedagogy in Argentina."

She will be investigating the relationship between Argentina and Italy via the institution of Opera and the participants in opera pedagogy. Lauren will conduct the majority of her research over the course of 9 months in Buenos Aires, splitting her time between the Carlos Lopez Buchardo National Conservatory and the University of Buenos Aires. This research will be a continuation of a 2007 study Lauren conducted through Cotlow Research Funding.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department, and was established in 1946 by the U.S. Congress and continues to receive its primary funding annually via Congressional appropriation to the Department of State. The Fulbright Program awarded approximate six thousand grants in 2008, funding U.S. students, teachers, professionals, and scholars to study, teach, lecture, and conduct research in more than 155 countries.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Alumni Update: Chris Wong teaching in China

Chris Wong (BA Intl Aff/Anth 2007) is teaching English for a second year in Hunan Province, China, and is enjoying his job and his life very much. The photo below shows Chris with his students.

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