Laurie Reitsema

Portrait of Laurie Reitsema outdoorsCharles B. Knapp Early Career Scholar Award 2018

Laurie Reitsema, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and a leading scholar in the field of bioarchaeology, studies how ecological and cultural processes affect human health and lifestyle. She explores human diet and disease in regions that experienced large-scale colonization, one of the most significant transitions in terms of evolution, health and inequality in human prehistory and history. She is co-director of two bioarchaeological research programs with principal fieldwork sites on the Georgia coast and in Sicily, Italy. Reitsema studies stable isotope tracers in mineralized and soft tissues of skeletal remains to recreate patterns of human diet and learn how nutrition and various stressors influence mortality. She uses a life history perspective, focusing on developmental as well as political and economic influences on human biology and behavior. Her work provides insights into how colonization’s cultural disruptions affected early life stage diets and affected later health.