Senior Honors Thesis Advisees

Lindsay Ahlmeyer, Class of 2021

Honors Thesis: “Examining Childhood Stress in Huancavelica, Peru: An Analysis of Non-Specific Stress Markers among the Santa Bárbara Mining Community During the 16th-18th Centuries”

Alyssa Bolster, Class of 2021

Honors Thesis: “Diet and Foodways in the Wari Imperial Hinterlands: Stable Isotope Analysis of the La Real Burial Population (600 – 1000 CE), Arequipa, Peru”

Alyssa is now pursuing a Ph.D. at Brown University, studying with Andrew Scherer and Parker VanValkenburgh.

Sophie Stark, Class of 2020

Honors Thesis: “Estimating the Geographic Origins of Individuals with Cranial Vault Modification: Stable Oxygen Isotope Analysis of Human Remains from Majes Valley, Peru”


Anna Whittemore, Class of 2019

Honors Thesis: “Childhood Diet as an Indicator of Imperial Power in the Wari Empire (600-1100 CE)”

Anna is standing at the end of a table covered in radiuses- an arm bone. She is looking at a black laptop in front of her. She is wearing a red sweatshirt and blonde hair is in two braids.

With the support of a VUSRP and Littlejohn Fellowship, Anna Whittemore traveled to Peru to conduct bioarchaeological research and archaeological excavations. Anna assisted on two significant  bioarchaeological projects. In the first, she worked with Dr. Tung, her graduate students, and Peruvian scholars, analyzing 1400-year-old archaeological skeletons from the site of La Real in southern Peru. The human skeletons represent a rural community that was under the influence of a ‘foreign’, ancient empire (the Wari). Anna’s research on that particular skeletal collection focused on documenting the frequency and patterning of cranial modification. Cranial modification is a cultural practice in which the parents (or other elders) alter the shape of their infant’s head by placing boards, cords, and other implements on the anterior and posterior of the skull. The various cranial shapes that they constructed were a marker of social identity, and evidence indicates that it was an overt, physical marker of community belonging. Anna assisted in reconstructing the crania (many were quite fragmentary), and then analyzing them to ascertain the modification “style”. Anna has presented our findings t at the VUSRP Research Symposium and at a professional conference: the Association of American Physical Anthropologists in Austin, Texas (2018). Anna also participated in a study abroad program in Morrocco in Fall 2017. She is now pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology at Cornell University, studying with Dr. Matt Velasco.


Tom Snyder, Class of 2019

Honors Thesis: “Reconstructing Diet in the Aftermath of Wari Imperial Decline: Stable Isotope Analysis of Human Remains from Huari-Monqachayoq-Solano, Peru”

Tom is looking at a rib he is holding. There are more ribs and a clipbaord on the wooden table in front of him. He is wearing a black polo with the Vanderbilt star on it- black star with a golden outline and a white V- a black watch, glasses, and has one black ear bud in his ear. He has short brown hair as well as brown facial hair.

As an undergraduate, Tom developed an interest in bioarchaeology and archaeological studies of imperial decline, and began working in Dr. Tung’s lab in 2017. He then received an NSF-REU to travel to Peru with Dr. Tung and analyze human skeletal remains from Wari affiliated sites in southern Peru. He also worked on a related project with Dr. Tung and Dr. Susan Kuzminsky, analyzing the efficacy of using high-resolution 3D scans of crania to estimate cranial trait scores. The results of that work were presented at the Annual Conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Tom also completed a Senior Honor’s Thesis entitled, Reconstructing Diet in the Aftermath of Wari Imperial Decline: Stable Isotope Analysis of Human Remains from Huari-Monqachayoq-Solano, Peru. Tom is now pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of California-Davis, studying with Dr. Jelmer Eerkens.


Theresa Miller, Class of 2018

Theresa and Tiffiny are standing in front of a blue poster that they are authors of. They are both smiling into the camera and have their arms around each other. The poster title is cut off, but it reads "Evaluating the Utility of Stable Isotopes Analysis to Study Ancient Migration in the Ayacucho Basin in Peru" in black letters. Theresa (left) is wearing a gray, white, and black top as well as black pants. She has long brown hair. Tiffiny is wearing a brown dress as well as a red and white scarf. She has chin length brown hair.

During her undergraduate studies, she worked with Dr. Tiffiny Tung for about two and a half years. In that time, she had the opportunity to gain valuable skills in field, laboratory, and international presentation settings. 
In Ayacucho, Peru she was part of a team analyzed and inventoried over 1,200 skeletal remains to understand health and violence patterns of the Wari population. Additionally, she took samples of local water sources to estimate geographic origin of the remains. The following summer, she was the inaugural recipient of the Caroline C. and William Moss Wilson Immersion Fund – focused on providing immersive experiences to Vanderbilt students. This grant enabled her to work in Dr. Tung’s lab, analyzing the isotopic composition of ancient dental enamel and bone collagen, later presenting findings on diet stratification at the World Congress on Mummy Studies in Lima, Peru.

She received a B.E. in Chemical Engineering in May of 2018. Her capstone design project was Designing a Multi-Product Brewery under Dr. Russell Dunn. She minored in Chemistry and French. Though it departed from her bioanthropology roots, she found it incredible to see the interdepartmental bridges between the social impacts of chicha consumption in the Wari into the chemical processes and environmental impacts of beer production. Following graduation, she began work as a consultant in the Energy & Utilities practice at West Monroe Partners. In this role, she has been able to further pursue her passion for transformational solutions in the water space.


Richa Biljani, Class of 2017

Honors Thesis: “Quantifying Structural Differences in Primary and Secondary Areas within the Major Primate Taxa”

Richa is now attending law school at the University of Michigan, with a focus on international human rights and social justice.


Taylor MacDonald, Class of 2017

Honors Thesis: “Documenting dietary effects of imperial collapse: Bioarcheology & stable isotope analysis at Huari, Peru”


Karthik Yarlagadda, Class of 2016

Honors Thesis: “Investigation of the Effect of Antenatal Synthetic Glucocorticoid Administration on DNA Methylation in Infants” Co-advised with Amy Non.

Karthik is now a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois-Urbana, studying with Dr. Ripan Malhi.

Seen is Gloria presenting Karthik with his birthday cake at the field lab house, Ayacucho, Peru.


Rachel Witt, Class of 2012

Honors Thesis: “The Health Profile of a Mortuary Skeletal Sample from Hualcayán: A Bioarchaeological Study of a Middle Horizon tomb from the north-central highlands, Peru”

Rachel is now a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane University, studying with Dr. John Verano.


Alysha is holding up a tooth and smiling into the camera. There is a printed out spreadsheet and a gray ruler on the table in front of her on a wooden table. There is a pile of small white papers and some are laying separately with writing on them. The wall is white and so are the tiles on the floor. Alysha is wearing a pink jacket, gray pants, and glasses. Her brown hair is pulled back.

Alysha Tribbett, Class of 2010

Honors Thesis: “Bioarchaeological Insights on Dental Health and Diet after the Fall of the Wari Empire in the Peruvian Andes”

Alysha attended the University of California at San Diego as a bioarch graduate student.


Ellen Lofaro, Class of 2009

Ellen with four kids around her. She is showing them a vert. Two of the kids are looking at it and the other two are looking into the camera. Ellen is looking into the camera. She has paper in her lap and is looking into the camera. There is a table covered with verts behind her and another with other bones. Ellen is wearing a long sleeved white shirt and has brown hair pulled back.

Honors Thesis: “Degenerative Joint Disease in the Middle Mississippian Arnold Site from Nashville, Tennessee”

Ellen received her Ph. D. in anthropology (bioarch) from the Univeristy of Florida Gainesville in 2016. She is now working as a curator at the University of Tennessee. Her research is centered in the Andes and Southeastern US.


Emily Sharp, Class of 2008

Emily is looking at a notebook and smiling. She is writing in the notebook. The wooden table she is sitting at is covered in various bones a brown packing paper. She is wearing a black long sleeved shirt, a blue t shirt, and jeans. She has shoulder length light brown hair.

Honors Thesis: “Working Hard or Hardly Working? A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Osteoarthritis in a Post-Imperial Andean Population”

After nearly two years as the Staff Osteologist in the Department of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, Emily is now a (bioarch) graduate student in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University.


Sara Juengst, Class of 2008

A close of up Sara crouching by an excavation that can't be seen. Cat is in the back on the left and someone's back is on the right. Sara is holding a small wooden tool into the hole. She is wearing a blue sweatshirt with orange letters with white outlines. She is also wearing khaki pants and a brown, black, and white beanie. She has a piercing in the eyebrow on the left. Her brown hair is in pigtails. In the background, Cat is wearing a gray shirt, a green vest, khaki pants, and a gray beanie. The other person is wearing a blue swearshirt and khakis.

Honors Thesis: “Reflections On Life Through Death: Negotiation and Conversion in the Mortuary Record of the Colca Valley of Peru” (Co-advised with Dr. Steve Wernke)

Sara received her Ph.D. in 2015 from the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is currently working at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte as an assistant professor in anthropology.  She has taught six different classes in the field and in relevant fields (human osteology, bioarchealogy, etc). She’s focused her research in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and occasionally in the Southeastern US. In the Peruvian Andes, she has studied  violence and different attempts for recovery of head injuries as a result.


Ella Wilhoit, Class of 2007

The mural painted on the Museo de Memoria to honor the victims of a genocide in Peru in the 1980s-early 2000s. There are mutilated limbs, fire, and children.

Honors Thesis: “El Museo de la Memoria para que no se Repita: Creating Memory and Community, Ayacucho, Peru”

Ella received an anthropology (ethnography) Ph.D. at Northwestern University, and she is a recipient of the Jacob Javitz Graduate Student Fellowship. Now, she is an assistant professor of anthropology at Lyon College. She has teaching experience in eight anthropology branch classes. Her research is centered in Peru, Mexico, and the US. The majority of her publications focus on women and inequality in Peru.


Jane Wise, Class of 2007

Honors Thesis: “Discovering Disease: A Portrait of Health at the Arnold Village, Middle Tennessee”

After graduation: Jane received her J.D. from American University in 2014, and she is now an attorney at Morgan Lewis in Washington D.C. She specializes in intellectual property rights and issues related to trademark, false advertising, and unfair competition.


Charisse is smiling into the camera. She is posing for a portrait and the background is brown. She is wearing a white shirt, black suit jacket, a silver necklace, and glasses. She has chin length brown hai.r.

Charisse Carver, Class of 2005

Honors Thesis: “Zooarchaeological Analysis of Paleolithic Remains, France”

Charisse was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to conduct her dissertation research in France. She received her Ph.D. in 2015 from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. Learn more about her work at