Letter from the AAPA President, Susan Antón

June 6, 2016

Dear AAPA Members and Meetings Attendees: 

In 2017 we move to New Orleans, Louisiana for our 86th annual meeting! NOLA, of course, needs no introduction and has a number of extracurricular activities, from Bourbon Street to the French Market to the Audubon Zoo, to recommend it. But, from April 19 to 22 our Local Arrangements (LAC) Chair, Dr. Trenton Holliday, and Program Chair, Dr. Josh Snodgrass, promise great science, discussion, and professional development opportunities sure to rival all of NOLA’s other attractions.   

Please encourage your colleagues and students who are not already members of AAPA to join and attend the New Orleans meeting. And encourage their participation with our sister societies who will meet in conjunction with or slightly in advance of us this year: the Human Biology Association (HBA), the Paleopathology Association (PPA), the American Association of Anthropological Genetics (AAAG), and the Dental Anthropology Association (DAA).  

This Call for Papers provides details on AAPA abstract submission and symposium organization as well as ancillary workshops, events, and prize opportunities. As in previous years, the symposium proposal deadline is July 15 and the abstract deadline is September 15–both are online processes. Check the AAPA website in the Fall for New Program Announcements related to competitive funding for pre-meetings workshops, panels, and committee activities.

Trent Holliday and his New Orleans crew will be working closely with Burk and Associates (BAI) to provide an exciting meeting. We are extremely grateful to our Atlanta LAC co-chairs, Drs. Frank Williams and John Redmond, and their colleagues who along with the BAI team of sisters—Lori Strong, Mary Lou Scarborough, and Heide Rohland—seamlessly managed the social and scientific programming of the 2016 meeting. We had more than 1100 abstracts this year, each reviewed by at least two reviewers and all blended together by our program chair, Dr. Annie Katzenberg. It is bittersweet for me to see Annie fulfill her term as Vice President and move on to other activities. She is one of the most gracious and graceful individuals with whom I have had the pleasure to work, and I already miss her wise input and consistent hand. We all owe Annie a huge debt of gratitude for the thousands of hours she has given the association. When you see her in NOLA, express your thanks! 

In New Orleans, we have some great new and continuing premier programming (further details later in the call).  

§ On Wednesday April 19th we will offer the second annual AAPA Committee on Diversity IDEAS (Increasing Diversity in Evolutionary Anthropological Sciences) Workshop, a day-long NSF-Funded science and mentoring workshop for minority undergraduate and graduate students that includes networking and local outreach throughout the meetings. Deadline for applications will be November 15, 2016. 

§ The 7th annual Committee on Diversity Undergraduate Research Symposium (COD URS) will be held the evening of Wednesday April 19, with an abstract deadline of February 1st. All AAPA undergraduate members are eligible to participate. Please encourage your students to submit an abstract for this great event. 

§ Prior to and throughout the meetings our Education Committee will provide classroom visits to underserved schools in New Orleans.

§ In the ‘Timing To Be Determined’ category we will host important discussions about our association name.

§ Thursday night the AAPA silent and live AUCTION from 4:30-8pm promises fun in benefit of a good cause (student travel awards). The 2016 Auction in Atlanta was run by a small army of volunteers and earned about $8000 for student travel! In previous years we’ve had items both anthropological (e.g., osteometric equipment, original Hooton illustrations, fossil casts) and not (e.g., art, jewelry, walnuts, libations, and trips) that have included items of all sizes and for all budgets. Please consider donating to, volunteering with, or bidding at the auction (proxy bids are allowed). If you have ideas or questions please contact Dr. Valerie DeLeon or Dr. Jon Bethard, the 2017 auction co-chairs. The auction is a fun, informal, and slightly wacky competition for useful and beautiful useless items, so please join us next year! And of course it’s for a great cause!

§ Friday the Business Meeting and Awards Fete starts just after the close of Friday sessions and includes recognition of grant and travel awardees and conferral of the AAPA lifetime awards. In 2016, Dr. Mike Crawford received the Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award and Dr. Leslie Aiello received the Gabriel Lasker Distinguished Service Award. Can’t wait to see who’s next! And we make important AAPA related decisions, including in 2016 official recognition of the Ethics Committee and upcoming in 2017 bylaws decisions regarding the secretary-treasurer position among others. So, please attend and lend us your voice!  

§ On Saturday, the AAPA Luncheon provides a keynote speaker and yummy victuals–thanks to Dr. Lee Berger who gave a great talk in 2016 and has been an avid supporter of AAPA through the years. Our 2017 speaker will be Tony Di Fiore, who will be giving a talk that has yet to be titled.  

§ We will continue the Saturday Afternoon Presidential Panel series. The annual series features important discussions of concern to the entire anthropological community. The inaugural panel Working Together to Change the Future: A dialogue on harassment in biological anthropology can be sampled through the storified versions of the panel tweets at https://storify.com/MarcKissel/getting-started. I am particularly grateful to the steering committee for that panel (Jada Benn-Torres, Agustín Fuentes, Ashley Hammond, Steve Leigh, Angela Mallard, Karen Rosenberg, Fred Smith, Andrea Taylor, Wenda Trevathan, Julienne Rutherford), to our panelists (Leslie Aiello, Michelle Bezanson, Steve Leigh, Robin Nelson, and Sue Sheridan), our moderator (Agustín Fuentes), and our official tweeter for these events (Marc Kissel).  

§ Saturday evening we close out the meeting with the capstone Closing Reception and Student Awards Ceremony where the student presentation winners are announced (see below) and food and frivolity prevail.

For information and ideas on any of the above, please contact me directly (susan.anton@nyu.edu).

The AAPA encourages the participation and early career development of its members.  

Through the Early Career Executive Committee Mentoring and the Student Liaison to the Executive Committee competitions a recent PhD and an advanced graduate student member have the opportunity to provide input to the executive committee.  Both positions provide modest funding to defray the costs of attending the meetings. I am pleased to welcome Dr. Nikki Burt (Cleveland Museum) our new Early Career Executive Committee Mentee and Kathryn Allen (SUNY, Buffalo) our new Student Liaison. And I am grateful to Dr. Ashley Hammond and Melanie Beasley who have brought the committee important insights in these positions last year. Nikki and I are developing an Ad Hoc committee to consider initiatives for our contingent faculty members, and Katie is working on a student newsletter. Contact one of us to get involved!

Putting our money where our mouth is AAPA also sponsors several prizes and grants including the Professional Development Grants (to support the research of recent, un-tenured PhD’s), Pollitzer Student Travel Awards and Student Presentation Prizes. 

The Professional Development Grants are overseen by the Career Development Committee, chaired by Joan Richtsmeier. The committee evaluated 17 proposals and awarded four grants ($5,000 each) in 2016.  

The 2016 Professional Development Awardees are:

Michelle Brown, University of California, Santa Barbara 

“Measuring the effects of feeding competition at multiple scales in a frugivorous primate community”

Stephanie Meredith, Harvard University

“Do winners take all? Assessing subadult sperm competition in hamadryas baboons”

Ryan Schmidt, University of Texas, Austin

“Eneolithic Trypillain genomic variability and the origins of the Cucuteni-Tripolye peoples”

John Starbuck, University of Central Florida

“Big brains and small faces: The power of aneuploidy to elucidate mechanisms influencing human evolution and development”

The AAPA Student Presentation Prize competition is overseen by the Student Affairs Committee, chaired by Dr. Leslea Hlusko. The students are honored by name at the Saturday evening AAPA Closing Reception and Student Awards Ceremony. Seven prizes and four honorable mentions were awarded at the 2016 meetings. Each awardee receives a cash award and each honorable mention receives several books (donated this year by Cambridge University Press, Harvard University Press, Springer, and Texas A&M University Press). The deadline for entry to the 2017 AAPA Student Presentation will be March 1, 2017, through an online submission form.

The 2016 Student Presentation Prizes are:

Juan Comas Prize: Amber Walker-Bolton (University of Toronto) for the presentation “Operational sex ratio, dominance rank and mating success of group and non-group male ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)” 

Earnest Hooton Prize: Myra Laird (New York University) for the presentation “Gape cycle kinematic variance and occlusal topography in modern humans ”

Aleš Hrdlička Prize: Andrew Halley (University of California Berkeley) for the presentation “The embryonic origins of primate encephalization: allometric and growth analyses” 

Mildred Trotter Prize: Nathan Thompson (State University of New York Stonybrook) for the presentation “Frontal plane trunk mechanics in humans and chimpanzees, and implications for the bipedal gait of the last common ancestor”

Sherwood Washburn Prize: Cecilia Mayer (Macalester College) for the presentation “How tough is the grey-cheeked mangabey? Patterns of healed skeletal trauma in Lophocebus albigena” 

AAA-AAPA Anatomy in Anthropology Prize: Eric Castillo  (Harvard University) for the presentation “Testing biomechanical models for lumbar lordosis variation in hominins”

AAA-AAPA Anatomy in Anthropology Prize: Jesse Goliath (Ohio State University) for the presentation “Patterns in ontogeny of epiphyseal and metaphyseal trabecular bone microstructure in the human proximal tibia”

In 2016, AAPA Student Presentation Honorable Mentions went to:  

Melanie Beasley (University of California San Diego) for the presentation “Seasonal variation in rainfall at Allia Bay, Kenya 3.97 Ma”

Amanda Lee (University of Illinois) for the presentation “Multivariate asymmetry in the femur as a basis for “pair-matching”

Brittany Walter (University of South Carolina) for the presentation “Urbanization and mortality risk in Late Medieval London”

Lu Yao (University of Chicago) for the presentation “Using ancient DNA from museum specimens for phylogenetic correction to interpret island dwarfing in Macaca fascicularis”

The William Pollitzer Travel Awards of $500 help defray the costs of attending the AAPA meetings. All AAPA student members (undergraduate and graduate) are eligible to compete regardless of whether they are giving a presentation. The essay competition, run by the Student Affairs Committee chaired by Dr. Leslea Hlusko, this year received a total of 68 submissions, up from 40 submissions last year. A total of 41 awards were made in response to the following essay prompt: 

On May 30, 2012, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced a plan to ban the sale of sugary soda drinks larger than 16 ounces (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/nyregion/bloomberg-plans-a-ban-on-large-sugared-drinks.html). Outrage ensued. While the legal and ethical issues surrounding this plan are fascinating, the proposal draws attention to an important public health issue – the growing number of individuals who are considered to be overweight or clinically obese. The reasons why more people exceed what is considered to be a healthy weight are multifactorial in that the underpinnings are social, environmental, epigenetic, and genetic – and therefore our evolutionary history played a role in shaping how and why this  is occurring. Biological anthropologists are well-positioned to offer tremendous insight. How does knowledge about the evolution of our species inform this important public health issue? 

The 2016 Pollitzer Student Travel Awards went to: 

Kathryn Allen, Amy Anderson, Samantha Archer, Jessica Beck, Jacqueline Berger, Jacqueline Berger, Jessica Bolte, Joel Bray, M. Loring Burgess, Colleen Cheverko, Sarah Duignan, Sarah Edlund, Amandine Eriksen, Katie Faillace, Elen Feuerriegel, Matthew Go, Laura Goetz, Deanna Goldstein, Alexis Goots, Nora Heidel, Genevieve Housman, Carmen Hové, Vishal Khetpal, Sandra Koch, Katherine Lacy, Maria Nieves Colon, Caitlin O’Connell, Samantha Patterson, Sarah Peacock, Rosie Pitfield, Terren Proctor, Rachel Provazza, Shelby Putt, Meagan Rubel, Ingrid Sierp (declined), Noah Simons, Rick Smith, Mary Studebaker-Reed, Alexandra Uhl, Mary Wilkins, Alexa Wimberly, Allysha Winburn

Pollitzer Deadline Note: Please watch the AAPA website this Fall for the announcement of the Pollitzer prize question. The deadline for essay submission will be January 1, 2017.

Committee on Diversity Undergraduate Research Symposium travel awards: The proceeds from the Thursday night AAPA Auction fund additional Pollitzers and smaller awards to participants of the COD Undergraduate Research Symposium. These COD undergraduate awards were made on a sliding scale depending on distance from the meeting venue and on the basis of a short statement on ‘how you, your research or your activities contribute to diversity’ as well as eligibility criteria established for McNair Scholars programs (e.g., first generation college students, students underrepresented in STEM; http://www2.ed.gov/programs/triomcnair/eligibility.html).    

The 2016 Committee on Diversity Undergraduate Research Symposium travel awardees were:

Isabel Starr, Lauren Christopher, Megan F. Veltri, Natalia T. Grube, Samantha M. Archer, Amy Peterson, Angela Ashman, Ashley Dafoe, Aviva Katz, Cameron Beason, Katharine G.J. Ryan, Laura Gould Goetz, Lindsay Kiefer, Madison Bondy, Avery K. Twitchell-Heyne, Chelsey Schrock, Cody J Moser, David A. Perry, Eric Ellison, Kaitlyn Lisenby, Meghan Campbell Caves, Princess Aurora Wilson, Ruth L. Dorton, Casey Johnson, Chia-Ping Chin, Jordan R. Lewman, Lily Anne Anderson, Olivia D.L. Burley, Rachel Provazza, Rebecca LaVictoire, Tanner Martin

Please consider donating to, volunteering with or bidding at the AUCTION – its for a great cause!

As you can see, the AAPA rests on the shoulders of our member-volunteers. I am especially thankful for Ed Hagen  (our heroic webmaster and registration guru) who this year is developing a Conference App to pair with our registration system! The association would be lost without the members and chairs of our standing and ad hoc committees (listed at http://www.physanth.org/about/committees/). A special shout-out of appreciation to the officers and executive committee members, Karen Rosenberg (Past-President), Annie Katzenberg (Vice President), and Josh Snodgrass (Membership Chair), whose terms ended this April and who have made my job easier and vastly more enjoyable. And great thanks to their successors, Leslie Aiello, Josh Snodgrass, and Lisa Sattenspiel, respectively. I am especially grateful for Karen’s continued support and great perspectives. Annie, thank you for your kindness, grace under pressure, and wise counsel. We have been fortunate to have Josh’s able handling of membership duties over the past three years–a job that he has completely revamped and gone above and beyond the call of duty to get our membership system back on track. Ever a glutton for punishment, I am pleased that Josh has agreed to take over the Vice Presidency and Program Chair position. As we go forward, I couldn’t ask for a harder working, more thoughtful or more collaborative elected Executive Committee of the AAPA: the indefatiguable Anne Grauer, Secretary-Treasurer; Josh Snodgrass, Vice-President and Program Chair, Peter Ellison, Editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology; Trudy Turner, Editor of the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology; Leslie Aiello, President-Elect; Leslea Hlusko, Lisa Sattenspiel, Anne Stone, and Joan Richtsmeier, members. 

To all the AAPA members who have agreed to run for various positions, THANK YOU.  Please keep running, even if you do not get selected for the slate or elected the first time around. 

To each and every AAPA member who works to keep our association running, THANK YOU!

Many AAPA programs arise from member ideas and come to fruition through our collective hard work. We have many volunteer opportunities—You can volunteer at any time by filling out the form at http://physanth.org/about/volunteer/. Or if you have ideas for initiatives and ways forward, please contact me or one of your other board members. The AAPA is only as strong as our members are involved.

I look forward with great anticipation to seeing and learning from you in New Orleans!

Susan Antón

AAPA President