Research Labs

See Student Interns below

Bioarchaeology & Stable Isotope Research Lab (BSIRL)

Farrah prepping samples in Dr. Tung’s stable isotope lab.

Tung’s research lab is known as the Vanderbilt Bioarchaeology Stable Isotope Research Lab (BSIRL). Researchers and students prepare bone and dental samples from humans and animals, as well as plants from various archaeology sites in the Americas, primarily from Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, and Guatemala, where many of our faculty and graduate students conduct research. We prepare bone collagen for carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope analyses, bone apatite (carbonates) for carbon and oxygen, and dental apatite (carbonates) for carbon and oxygen.

Tung and her students and colleagues are conducting stable isotope analyses of archaeological human and animal samples to address questions about ancient dietary practices (using carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotopes) and migration patterns (using oxygen isotopes). Modern plant (carbon and nitrogen) and water (hydrogen and oxygen) samples are also examined. The oxygen isotope data also aid in reconstructing the climate from the eras to which the human and animal samples belonged.

The stable isotope research is conducted in this lab on the Vanderbilt campus, and much of the macro-skeletal analysis is conducted at field lab sites in Ayacucho and Arequipa, Peru.

  • There are two glass boxes. The one on the left (desiccator C) has two blue trays with vials in them and the one on the right (desiccator B) has three yellow trays with vials in them. There is enamel powder in them.
  • Two rows of vials with enamel powder inside. They have labels with numbers on them. They are in a purple tray and it see through enough to see the powder.

2021-22 BSIRL-Tung Lab Undergraduate Team

Lindsay Ahlmeyer, 2022 (Anthropology and Classical and Mediterranean Studies). Lindsay enjoys reading, doing crossword puzzles, and cooking. She intends to apply to law school.

Alyssa Bolster, 2022 (Anthropology and Law, History, & Society).

Maya Diaz, 2022 (Anthropology with a minor in Biology). In her free time, she enjoys playing the cello with the Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra.

Farrah Hasan, 2022 (Chemistry with a minor in Health Policies and Economies). In her free time, she loves to write and watch Netflix. Fun fact about Farrah: she can speak four languages!


2019-2020 & 2020-21 BSIRL-Tung Lab Undergraduate Team

Sophie Stark, 2021 (Anthropology and Studio Art) Sophie enjoys creating sculptures and paintings and lifting weights in her free time.

Katie Radulovack, 2021 (MHS, minor in Creative Writing). Katie is an avid ultimate frisbee player, and she volunteered with Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science (VSVS), and worked as a Vanderbilt tour guide. She is now applying to medical school.

Maria Seller, 2021 (Anthropology and Biology). She loves to swing dance and care for her chickens. She is now in the MA program in the Dept. of Anthropology at Geroge Mason University.

Lane Chesler, 2021 (Anthropology and Mathematics with a minor in Japanese).  She loves to travel and has lived in Japan, India, Austria, and Canada! Lane is also a published author and avid fisherwoman!

Sarah Cole, 2021 (Anthropology with a minor in Spanish). Sarah used to live in England, has traveled to 5 different continents, and has broken 7 different bones–and she still loves osteology! She is applying to medical school.

Alyssa Bolster, 2022 (Anthropology and Law, History, & Society). She loves all things bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology-related, and she has participated in several fieldschools, including an NSF-REU program. Her dorm roommate is a leopard gecko named Poca.

Maya Diaz, 2022 (Anthropology with a minor in Biology). In her free time, she enjoys playing the cello with the Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra.

Farrah Hasan, 2022 (Chemistry with a minor in Health Policies and Economies). In her free time, she loves to write and watch Netflix. Fun fact about Farrah: she can speak four languages!