On April 14 I was due to head out to Los Angeles to attend this year's AAPA meetings, but just like the rest of the world, I am staying home instead. The Coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on all of the world, and while it feels disappointing that the AAPAs were cancelled, it was, of course, the right thing to do. I have been working in isolation for the past couple of weeks as my university closed its campus and moved to remote work until end of June. I had to shut down the histology lab until further notice, which felt heartbreaking, but I know we will be back up and running soon - I am optimistic the world will be a healthy place soon again.
As one of few very lucky academics with a job, I am unbelievably thankful that I can work remotely and have a salary. Setting up for remote work was initially a bit tough for me. My research is predominantly practical being lab based, and so not being able to just switch the microscope on when I need to, and take a snap of a sample I am describing, was initially a difficult adjustment for me. Thankfully, I have a pile of data I can analyse and write up remotely. Moments like these remind me - always have plans B, C, D, E... for your research papers!
The great news is that AAPAs have arranged for the presentations to be shared online amid the cancellation of the meetings. So I uploaded my poster this weekend - it should appear under this link on Monday (once AAPAs refresh the program page). Feel free to have a browse. My colleagues and I (including two awesome students - Nathalia and Meg) are reporting the first human bone histology data for a 700 - 300 BP site of Taumako in Solomon Islands. You can get involved with a public discussion under the link as well. However, if you are having difficulties accessing the site, I am also providing the poster below. The manuscript is almost ready to go - we will be hopefully submitting it for peer review next week once all co-authors have gotten back to me with feedback.
Human bone health at Taumako, ca. 700 – 300 BP Southeast Solomon Islands
The third "Australasian Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology Newsletter" (AFAAN) has just been released. Run by Dr Samantha Rowbotham and A/Professor Soren Blau of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Melbourne, the Newsletter features updates on research, teaching, and other developments in forensic anthropology from across Australasia. I wrote up a short report about the many different forensic anthropology presentations delivered at the Australasian Society for Human Biology conference held at the ANU in December last year. You can read in on p. 4 in the Newsletter:
Our paper looking at osteocyte lacunae densities and body size in fossil rodents from Timor is now out in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. You can have a look here: https://academic.oup.com/biolinnean/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biolinnean/blz197/5709529
Paper accepted in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society - rat bone metabolism and the island rule
I'm so happy to have received a paper acceptance email this morning confirming that the editor of the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society is happy to have my Timor rat bone histology study published. This project investigated bone metabolism change with body size using an insular sample of small and giant murines from Timor island (late Quaternary). The assemblage was excavated as part of Sue O'Connor's long term project in Timor and is full of super interesting specimens. I was given permission to do invasive sampling for histology on ten femora. We estimated osteocyte lacunae densities in these samples to find that the giant murines had lower counts when compared to the small murines. We think this is evidence of bone metabolic adaptation to insularity. You can read up about the background to these wonderful creatures here:
Australasian Society for Human Biology 2019 & American Association of Physical Anthropologists 2020 meetings!
The 33rd Australasian Society for Human Biology conference just ended in Canberra and I am so happy to report that all my wonderful students did an excellent job presenting their research. Meg Walker was even awarded 1st prize for best poster presentation for her research on bone histology in an individual with a possible Klippel-Feil Syndrome, Type III.
My PhD student Karen Cooke presented the following:
Cooke KM, Mahoney P. Miszkiewicz JJ. Investigating the relationship between Type II, drifting osteons, and remodelling rates in ancient human cortical bone.
My masters student Meg Walker presented a poster and a talk:
Walker MM, Oxenham MF, Hiep TH, Nguyen TMH, Miszkiewicz JJ. Preliminary descriptions of bone histology of in an individual with a possible Klippel-Feil Syndrome, Type III from Neolithic Northern Vietnam.
Walker MM, Oxenham MF, Hiep TH, Nguyen TMH, Miszkiewicz JJ. The impact of ancestry and behaviour on bone metabolism at Mán Bạc, Vietnam.
I presented a case study from my DECRA project:
Miszkiewicz JJ, Matisoo-Smith L, Weisler M. Intra-skeletal remodelling and behaviour in an adult male from early prehistoric Marshall Islands, eastern Micronesia.
...and a little review of models within bioarchaeology and palaeoepidemiology co-authored with a colleague in my department:
McFadden C, Miszkiewicz JJ. Temporal consistency in the human response to evolving changing stimuli: bioarchaeological considerations.
I also just received an e-mail from the 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists organizing committee advising that my abstract about ancient human bone health at Taumako, Solomon Islands, has been accepted for presentation in Los Angeles, CA in April 2020:
Miszkiewicz JJ, Buckley HR, Dias Guimaraes NR, Walker MM, Kiko L, Kinaston RL. Human bone health at Taumako, ca. 700 – 300 BP Southeast Solomon Islands.
ASHB2019 delegates at the ANU in Canberra, 4 December 2019: