Meredith Ellis 

Meredith A. B. Ellis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

PhD, Anthropology, with Distinction, Syracuse University, 2014, S yracuse University All-University Doctoral Prize, 2015

MA, Anthropology, Syracuse University, 2011

MA, English, University of Rochester, 2005

BA, Anthropology and English, William Smith College , 2004

Summa Cum Laude with Honors in Anthropology, Phi Beta Kappa.
Office:  SO185, Telephone:  561-297-4768, Email:

Research Interests:  Social Bioarchaeology, Bioarchaeology of Childhood, Historical Bioarchaeology, 19th Century United States

My research focuses on human skeletal remains from archaeological sites.  Specifically, I focus on historical sites and on the remains of children (subadults).  My research asks questions about how people lived in the past, and what their bodies can tell us about their daily lives and about life in a family and a community.  I am interested in the intersection of the social and the biological, and how those two come together in the human skeletal system.

For each skeleton I examine I establish a biological profile:  age, sex, ancestry, pathology, trauma, and unique identifiers.  That is then incorporated with other lines of evidence to establish a life history for the individual.  My work draws on skeletal analysis, archival research, and historical archaeology to tell a story about a life in the past.  I am particularly interested in nutrition and disease, and how evidence for illnesses and for dietary patterns in skeletal remains can tell us about social relationships, environmental conditions, and social norms in a time and place.  Thus far my research has focused on sites in the 19th century United States, including the subadults from the abolitionist Spring Street Presbyterian Church in New York City, and trauma and starvation processes from the Donner Party camp in California and from the China Gulch Chinese mining camp in Montana.

Also see the documentary film, "The Bones Speak."  By understanding life histories from skeletal remains, and by asking broad anthropological questions about life in the past, my work contributes to interdisciplinary projects that span biological anthropology, archaeology, and history.