Anthropology students present research in Kentucky

Anthropology students present research in Kentucky

Lee anthropology students (left to right) Jed Foster, Abigail Christopher and William Kimball recently presented their research during a conference in Kentucky.

Photo Courtesy of the Lee University Public Relations Office

Lee University anthropology students Abigail Christopher, Jed Foster and William Kimball recently presented their original research at the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference (BRURC) at Union College in Kentucky on Friday, April 7.

“Anthropology has some of the most creative and intelligent students, not only at Lee, but undergraduates nationwide,” said Dr. Richard Jones, professor of anthropology at Lee. “Their breadth of knowledge and desire to confront contemporary issues in their research is remarkable and helping them get into the best graduate programs internationally.” 

Christopher, from Waynesville, North Carolina, presented on her time in Liberia gathering stories of survival from women who lived through two civil wars and the Ebola virus crisis. While in Liberia, she also spent time observing and interacting with women in work and worship, as well as holding focus groups.

Her goal was to discover the strategies used by women in both the Christian evangelical churches and the Muslim faith in times of national stress to confront and rebuild their communities.

Christopher’s talk, “The Role of Evangelical Christian Women in the Rebuilding Efforts of Post-Ebola Liberia,” highlighted what she called “chechepolay,” which is a form of communication, typically among women, in which they use their shared responsibilities and cultural practices to solidify their relationships with one another. Her work was funded by a $5,000 summer research grant from the Appalachian College Association (ACA).

Jed Foster, from Sweetwater, Tennessee, surveyed 169 college students about their views on creation versus evolution.

Foster performed a regressive analysis on numerous variables with the hypotheses that science majors are more likely to accept evolution than non-majors, juniors and seniors more likely than freshman and sophomores, and students coming from public school are more probable than private or homeschooled students. 

While he concluded that science majors are in fact more likely to accept evolution than non-majors, he did not find his other two hypotheses to be true.

Foster said he did find “significant predictor value for acceptance of evolution among students identifying or sympathizing with the Democratic Party, as well as for those who do not regularly read Scripture,” according to his recent Facebook post.

Foster emphasized the importance of the encouragement he received from his faculty mentors and peers throughout the research process.

“I couldn’t have asked for better support from my professors, and I’m very thankful for the Lee community to serve as a support system in helping me achieve my goals as a researcher,” Foster said. “The research has been hard, but very rewarding. It’s been very fulfilling for me.”

Foster’s presentation, “The Young and the Religious: Acceptance of Evolution among Millennials at an Evangelical Christian University,” has been accepted for publication in a national undergraduate research journal.

Foster was awarded an ACA summer research scholarship and will be departing for China this summer to study responses to changes in China’s One-Child Policy.

William Kimball, from Franklin, Tennessee, spent the summer of 2016 excavating at Eagle Rock Shelter in Colorado with Lee University’s archaeology field school. He presented an overview of the site’s 14,000 years of human occupation. The archaeological timeline of Eagle Rock Shelter was based on excavation records for the past 10 years. 

Kimball illustrated his discussion with material found in the strata of Paleo-Indian, Archaic and Formative periods that included fire hearths, stone tools, cordage and baskets, animal bones, and petroglyphs on the shelter walls.

“The site contains evidence of maize cultivation 450 years prior to what had previously been recorded in the area,” Kimball said. “Over the years that the site has been excavated, it has been a constant source of new information that will require reevaluation of the current record of human activity in this region of North America.”

Kimball plans to continue excavating Eagle Rock Shelter this summer.

The BRURC is an interdisciplinary conference that hopes to encourage undergraduates to engage in original investigations and thus provides them an opportunity to present their findings.

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