John Sonderberg is the Managing Director of the Evolutionary Anthropology Laboratory
What is the Evolutionary Anthropology Laboratory (EAL)? Where are you located? How can I find out more about the lab?
The EAL is a research and teaching facility focused on the study of the human condition—past and present—from the perspective of modern evolutionary theory. Data and theoretical perspectives
from many fields—archaeology, paleoanthropology, physical anthropology, and primatology—are brought together in the lab. The EAL is located on the third floor of Blegen Hall. It contains space dedicated to osteology, lithics, zooarchaeology, palaeobotany, and three-dimensional modeling. Our facilities include the Research Laboratory (360 Blegen), the Center for Imaging and Modeling in Anthropology (340 Blegen Hall), the Human Evolution Laboratory (345 Blegen Hall), and the Advanced
Teaching Laboratory (355 Blegen Hall). Please visit http://anthropologylabs.umn.edu/ to find out more about the EAL.
What do students and faculty work on in the lab?
Researchers in the EAL study stone tools, animal bones from archaeological sites, primate behavior and ecology, primate evolution, historical archaeology, three-dimensional imaging and modeling of objects, phytoliths, and archaeological wood. Projects involving EAL researchers have occurred around the globe,
including the Republic of Georgia, Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, South Africa, Congo, Ireland, Greece, Bolivia, the south eastern US, and in the Elliot Park Neighborhood of Minneapolis.
What internship and volunteer opportunities are available in the EAL?
An important part of our mission is getting students involved in as many different aspects of the research process as possible. We offer an internship course that provides hands-on experience in basic research and curation techniques. We offer advanced students lots of opportunities for joining faculty research projects and starting their own project. Many of our students are also involved in the Elliot Park Neighborhood Project in Minneapolis. Please contact me if you are interested in working with us.
What types of collections does the lab hold?
The EAL houses several reference, research, and teaching collections, including the Old World Archaeology, New World Pottery, Primate Osteology, Mammalian Osteology, Human Evolution, Archaeology Teaching, and Taphonomy collections. With funding from the CLA InfoTech Fees Committee, we have also been building a virtual collection of 3D models for use in anthropology courses. We have created 3D animations of different techniques for making stone tools and interactive 3D models of key specimens in human evolution. Visit our web site for a sample.
What is your favorite object in the lab?
We have a Leica Stereo Explorer microscope. It has built-in cameras and a motor that lowers the scope by tiny steps. At each step, software refocuses the microscope and takes a pair of pictures. The software then assembles a three-dimensional map of the object from the series of pictures. These models let us measure the shape of bones and artifacts in ways never before possible. Armed with these new ways of seeing objects, we can answer questions that have been lurking around for years and start asking new questions that were unimaginable until now.