Department of Anthropology

Anthropology At FAU!



Meredith Ellis 

Dr. Meredith A. B. Ellis
Biological Anthropologist


Dr. Ellis holds, with distinction, a Ph.D in Anthropology, winning the Syracuse University All-University Doctoral Prize.  She has M.A. degrees in Anthropology and English from Syracuse University and the University of Rochester and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and English from William Smith College. 

Dr. Ellis joins us with solid teaching experience, research publications, grants and awards, including a $20,000 American Dissertation Fellowship, and experience as an Assistant Director of the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Orientation Program, among many other projects.   


 Ellis Lab Shot


Dr. Ellis loves the study of bones, which ensures continuity of the FAU Anthropology Department’s solid foundation in the biological anthropological disciplines of osteology, forensics, historical bioarchaeology and primatology.  



Stronger Than Ever


Sara Ayers-Rigsby
Director of FPAN - Southern Region

Under the auspices of a new director and an expanded catchment area, the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) is an active force in south Florida.  FPAN is a statewide organization dedicated to promoting and protecting Florida’s rich archaeological past.  The state level program was created by former University of West Florida president, Dr. Judy Bense, and is hosted regionally by different universities who work in collaboration with one another.  FAU hosts the south Florida region of FPAN, and encourages students at FAU to get involved.

The new regional director, Sara Ayers-Rigsby, comes from the private section with a new energy and vision for FPAN.  Working with an expanded cadre of staff, students and volunteers, in a region that extends to all nine counties from south of Lake Okeechobee to the Keys, FPAN continues to fulfill its mandate to make everyone aware that archaeology is real and local, not just some pyramids in Egypt or ruins in Greece.

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Undergraduate interns at Miami Circle site identifying Oolitic Limestone

Through public outreach, FPAN brings an understanding of archaeology to diverse groups.  By coordinating the preservation of archaeological knowledge within the urban development framework of southern Florida, by creating alliances across institutions that can impact the perception of the archaeological resources of the region, as well as by promoting heritage tourism, FPAN has become a true resource and a voice for conservation and archaeological preservation in the south Florida region.  With two offices, one in Fort Lauderdale covering the east coast region and the other in Fort Myers covering the west coast, FPAN is influencing the state’s archaeological landscape.  In the Fort Lauderdale office, Mallory Fenn is the Public Archaeology Coordinator, and in Fort Myers, Rachael Kangas serves as the Public Archaeology Coordinator.

Recently FPAN has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management on FPAN’s HMS Florida Initiative, which educates volunteers on ways to protect the environment and archaeological resources from rising sea levels due to natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew.  FPAN staff and volunteers have worked on excavation sites at Belle Glade and Mound Key.  FPAN has also collaborated with Randall Research Center near Fort Myers and the University of Florida to assist in the survey and oversight of archaeological resources at Pineland, as well as with collaborating with the Randell Research Center on their children’s summer camps. 

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Rachael Kangas demonstrates archaeological techniques in Belle Glade, Florida

For FAU students, volunteering at FPAN is an opportunity to learn not only basic archaeological techniques such as surveying and preservation methods, but also about the cultural and environmental heritage of Florida.  Graduate students have the opportunity of an assistantship with FPAN, and all students have the opportunity to meet and network with various area partners.

FPAN has come a long way since it was first contracted as a grant in the Anthropology Department at FAU in 2007.  Through the efforts of dedicated staff and volunteers and the support of the Anthropology Department and the University at large, it has grown into a real voice and advocate for Florida’s archaeological history and environment.



Ecuador Field School

 Bel in Ecuador

  Bel Salah in Salango, Ecuador

The Ecuador Ethnographic Field School is six weeks filled with hands-on, putting methods into practice, experiences.  I personally found it to be absolutely amazing!  Even though speaking Spanish is helpful, it should not be a deal breaker.  Dr. Harris provides us with local assistants that help us with our work, everything from translating, networking, to where to get the best food.  The food is amazing!  So fresh!  The people are welcoming and the experience itself will change your life.

How it works:  You work during the week on your assigned task and should be keeping detailed field notes that will help you with your final paper.  You have your choice of topic that you can research, but if you need help Dr. Harris will help you.  You'll have every weekend. 

During the weekend I visited the cities of Quito and Banos, along with other smaller towns in the area.  All our traveling was done by bus or by "fletes" (their version of Uber).  I met some amazing people and made great friends, both with locals and working with fellow field schoolers. 

The compound is clean and kind of feels like a beach motel, with the sand and waves.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to go last summer and find my thesis topic!  I will be returning this upcoming summer!


Click here for more information about the Ecuador Field School

 Last Modified 2/22/17