My School has recently invested some strategic money into cross-disciplinary research areas of global importance. Together with two of my colleagues in archaeology - Mathieu Leclerc and Tim Denham - we submitted a project proposal titled Polythetic Micro-analytical Toolkit (PMT) for archaeological and bioanthropological sciences, which was announced as funded yesterday! We are very excited because the three of us are into various microscopic visualisation techniques. Despite being based in different disciplines, we have found common technical ground which we are thrilled to be able to explore with some strategic seed funding ($16k) from our School. Our proposal is part of a broader 'Intrepid Methodologies' research theme, which we are excited to be contributing to.
The aim of our project is to develop a suite of complementary analytical methods based on microscopic visualisation. This analytical approach will allow bioanthropologists and archaeologists to analyse conjointly various types of archaeological materials (e.g. bones, teeth, pottery, soil/sediments, plant remains). The objective of this inter-disciplinary project is to cross the bridge between sub-disciplines and develop a holistic and integrated methodological approach able to yield valuable data from a wide range of archaeological material. The key objective of the project is to devise a decision tree-like methodological protocol that will guide the micro-analytical process through steps and relevant microscopy instruments based on the research questions asked and the material used. This methodological cascade will have at its source data from four techniques: micro-computed tomography (microCT), laser confocal topography, automated scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS), and thin section analysis.
We're starting lab work next week!
The ankylosis paper I posted about a few weeks ago has now been published in the International Journal of Paleopathology! I am super excited about this one because I was able to work with a multi-disciplinary team, and collaborated with colleagues in the Philippines:
Our image analysis paper is now out in AJPA! onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajpa.24143
Since last year I have been working with Annie Sohler-Snoddy who is currently a post-doc at the University of Otago on dental histology as part of one of the components of Hallie Buckley's Marsden Grant that I am an AI on. Annie is doing some really interesting work trying to diagnose disease from teeth in a series of human samples, including periods of vitamin D deficiency. Last year, Annie came out to my lab to get some samples prepared and have a go at various different imaging protocols of human dentine. One of the variables that researchers study as part of this is interglobular dentine (IGD), but there doesn't seem to be a good objective method published for quantifying IGD in sections. We figured perhaps extracting regions of interest (ROIs) to threshold IGD could work. It appears that it does! So, together with other collaborators, we wrote a technical paper reporting the procedures for this using ImageJ/FIJI (my favourite open access software!). The paper was accepted for publication in AJPA this morning - out soon!
Sohler-Snoddy AM, Miszkiewicz JJ, Loch C, Tromp M, Buckley H. An image analysis protocol for the quantification of interglobular dentine in anthropological tooth sections.
As the COVID restrictions hit around March (in Australia), I had to ‘cancel’ one of my DECRA research training workshops that I was going to deliver in person in our ANU labs. This workshop would have been restricted to only 20 participants had it been undertaken in person. I ended up modifying the workshop and moving it all online, using open access software… I was able to reach >300 participants from around the world, including departments with limited infrastructure and where biological anthropology isn’t a part of the university curriculum – so going online had a much bigger impact and significance... A short piece about the workshops has just been published in Evolutionary Anthropology https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/evan.21859