Considering Graduate School

                                        Mark C. Griffin, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University,
                                        San Francisco, California 94132-4155.

This is the web version of this handbook. If you want the print version with recommended programs, stop by my office.



According to statistics compiled by the American Anthropological Association, most (>75%) practicing anthropologists hold a Ph.D. (60%) or Master's (25%) degree. Examination of the AAA statistics reveals that only about 50% of recent anthropology graduates work in "academia." The remaining 50% work in research, government, and industry positions. While it is important to remember that a graduate degree is not a requisite for getting a job in anthropology, it certainly vastly increases your chances of getting a job that you will like and can turn into a career (see the AAA publication Careers in Anthropology and the NKU website Anthropology and Archaeology Careers).

Having said that, you should consider some sober advice from recent PhD's responding to the 1995 AAA PhD Survey (AAA Newsletter, October 1995, pg. 37):

"Be very sure that this is what you want to do. Know why you're doing it. Go for it only if you have a passion for anthropology and adventure. Do not enter for the sake of a career - only for love of anthropology itself. Don't do this unless you are obsessed with the field and are willing to work for very little money. Weigh carefully your love for the profession against your desire for economic stability. Accept that a career in anthropology is more like an artist's career than a lawyer's. Study what you love and care about, and don't worry about the future. If it's your dream - go for it!"

Every anthropology major should seriously consider graduate school as a viable career option. Don't let any one person discourage you from considering graduate school. Remember that this is your life and ultimately the graduate programs to which you apply are going to decide whether you are qualified for graduate work or not. On the other hand, according to the most recent statistics (AAA Newsletter, September 1997) anthropology graduate students spend on average 8-10 years in graduate school (range 3-19 years). In other words, this is a serious decision, take some time to make it.






The first thing you should do is talk to your advisor. You should do this at least by the end of your junior year. Ask them what schools they would recommend for you. Be aggressive; this is your future, so ask lots of questions and if you are not satisfied with the answers ask more. After talking with your advisor, talk to several other professors to get their opinion (remember, one of the points of going to professional meetings is to do exactly this).

At this point, you should have a list of about ten schools. Call them and have them send you an application packet. Sit down with your advisor again and try to narrow your list down to about five schools. Your list should include one "dream" program (the best possible school that you could get into), two or three "good" programs (ones that are not necessarily your first choice but that are solid and that you have a reasonable chance of getting into and getting funding from), and two or three "sure things" (programs that are good and you know you can get into).

One of the top five responses by recent anthropology graduate school graduates to the question "What advice would you give to prospective graduate students in anthropology?" was: Talk to previous graduate students about the school and advisors. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important things you should do to choose an appropriate school for you. It may not be possible for you to actually visit the schools. This is one of the important things for you to do at professional meetings. Also don't forget that the Web has literally thousands of ways for you to get into contact with students. Don't ignore this resource.

At this point you will have a list of three to five schools that you're still interested in. Now complete the applications and send them in.






Recent PhD graduates gave this advice to incoming graduate students (AAA Newsletter, October 1995, pg. 36):

"Obtain teaching experience. Learn statistics. Take technical classes in analytical methods. Do as much field research as you can. Take classes in all the subdisciplines. Learn to write. Master public speaking. Get a background in budget management. Get some experience in an interdisciplinary project. Give conference papers and publish before completing the degree. Do not go into debt to finance your graduate studies. Finish quickly and get back into the real world ASAP. Have fun and enjoy what you're doing."

In a perusal of anthropology graduate programs nationwide one item stands out: research skills that are considered related to but not necessarily taught in anthropology departments are the responsibility of the student to obtain. An example from the University of Florida graduate application guidelines:

"Various kinds of anthropological research require skills which are normally not taught as part of anthropological programs. Such skills may include a knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, surveying, drawing, soil chemistry, psychological testing, computer programming, or photography. Students whose research interests are such that they may need one or more of these skills should try to acquire them, by course work or otherwise, as early in their preparation as possible."

Don't wait until graduate school to get a head start on these. All of these can be worked on now while you're in undergraduate school. This gives you a competitive edge in applying to graduate schools and gives you less to worry about when you get there.


There are four specific things you should start working on at least by your junior year:

(1) Prepare a curriculum vitae and keep it up to date. This is important. Keep track
      of everything you do professionally. Graduate programs want to see that you have taken an
      interest in anthropology outside of the classroom. Also, undergraduate research experience is
      the number one way that entering graduate students get chosen for research positions. If you
      have no "track record" you won't be considered for these. Also, if a professor takes an interest in
      your application because of your prior research experience, all sorts of academic shortcomings
      can be forgotten.

      Your vitae should highlight a number of different categories including education, fieldwork,
      labwork, membership in professional societies (e.g., AAA, AAPA, BARFAA, SAA),
      scholarships and honors received, published and unpublished research reports, papers and
      posters given at meetings.

(2) Think about references. Take this seriously. Ideally, you want to choose people who
      have more than a cursory knowledge of your background. In other words, you want professors
      that have instructed you in more than one class, and ideally, have a knowledge of your
      professional experience beyond the classroom (e.g., laboratory and field work).

(3) The GRE. Take it. You should plan to take this during your Junior year. This gives you time
      to work it into your finances (basic cost is ~$100.00) and take it again if you need to.

(4) Prepare an application letter. Before your senior year, start formulating your Statement
      of Purpose. All graduate programs require this. Write a draft and have your advisor edit it. Make
      sure that you address the specifics that graduate schools ask and make sure that both you and
      your advisor are satisfied with it. Remember, this will be the first impression you make on the
      admission committee; make it a good one.

Your Statement of Purpose should include:

(a) the general scope of your knowledge of anthropology

(b) your general research interests in anthropology

(c) what preparation you have had for these

(d) how are you going to benefit from graduate work and how are you going to benefit the

(e) what are your plans for your professional career

(f) who specifically you want to work with in the program and why






There are no "blanket" requirements for admission to graduate school. Each school and program has its own requirements. There is one important thing to keep in mind, however: admission to the graduate school and admission to the program are two separate decisions. Being admitted to the graduate school is similar to being to being admitted to SFSU -- all of the various programs (e.g., biology, chemistry, anthropology, sociology, etc.) are part of the graduate school. Requirements for admission to graduate schools vary tremendously, however generally (the vast majority of programs listed in the AAA Guide):

(1) the GPA requirement is at least a "B" average in your "upper division work" and in many cases
      at least a "B" average overall (your total undergraduate GPA)


(2) the GRE requirement is a combined score of 1000 or higher on the Verbal and Quantitative
      Tests (some schools are beginning to factor in the Analytical section)

You should take note of the fact that a lot of programs suggest that prospective students who do not meet these requirements should contact the department chairperson to ascertain if exceptions to the general rules can be made.

As with graduate school admission requirements, graduate program (the department) requirements vary tremendously. Some generalizations can be made:

(1) with the above provision, graduate programs require that you be admitted to the graduate
      school of the university

(2) most programs require that you have taken at least one (preferably more) course in each of
      the four subdisciplines

(3) in addition, departments examine the distribution of your undergraduate work (i.e., the types
      of courses you took), the extent of preparation for graduate school you made in undergraduate
      school (curriculum vitae), and the quality and extent of preparation for the graduate program
      you propose to undertake (statement of purpose)

(4) letters of recommendation that specifically address your suitability for graduate work and your
      practical experience in anthropology

(5) some departments want to see demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language (course work
      or exam)






Freshman - Sophomore

Ask as many people as possible about graduate school. Attend as many extracurricular activities related to your major as possible. Get involved with other students in your major.


 Prepare a curriculum vitae

 Prepare a list of schools you are interested in

 Take the GRE

 Prepare a list of references

 Write a Statement of Purpose



 Apply; Many application deadlines (the complete file, not just your application) are in January.
   Allow lots of extra time for lost GRE scores, recommendation letters, etc.

 Visit; Visit campuses and prearrange interviews with faculty and students. This will give you a
   chance to: (1) meet members of the department in person, (2) demonstrate your initiative and
   interest, and (3) personalize you application by putting a face with the name on the application.






In many ways the advice for current M.A. students planning to go on to doctoral school is the same as that for B.A. students applying to graduate school. There are however some major differences. For the most part, for a B.A. you are simply fulfilling course requirements which once they are done you receive your B.A. Graduate school is different. Many M.A. students suffer from "cart before the horse" disease. That is, they start worrying about doctoral school way before the M.A. has even been finished. The coursework for the M.A. is just the beginning. In addition to the coursework, while working on your M.A. you should be carefully accumulating experience that clusters around a central theme (e.g., if you are a bioarchaeologist you should work on excavation projects, participate in osteological anaylses, and work on related projects while you are here). Keep track of everything that you do and put it on your curriculum vitae. This is just as important an academic record as your transcripts. Be wary of over-diversification. For example, if you are concentrating in bioarchaeology, then that should be your emphasis (e.g., a project in DNA extraction may be very interesting, but if your primary interest is in skeletal biology, your time would be better spent working on a project concerned with skeletal analysis). There are lots of projects available out there; not all of them are for you. When you apply to doctoral school, they are going to be interested in whether you spent your time productively in the Master's program gaining experience in a focused area (hence the term "Master's") or you spent your time dabbling in a variety of areas. For the most part, doctoral programs are not interested in trying to focus students who only have a vague idea of what they want to do.

The culmination of the M.A. is the Master's Thesis. This is the demonstration of your ability to conduct original research and present the written results. It is not a class that you simply take and get credit for. Nor is it a glorified term paper that you can wait to the "eleventh hour" to finish. You should ask aroundÖ many of our current and past students have taken this approach, only to find out much to their dismay that the eleventh hour draft of their thesis is roundly rejected by their committee. In general, from first draft to final draft you should count on at least six months. This means that if you plan to start doctoral school in the fall semester (Ph.D. programs do not accept spring applications) you should have your first draft to your committee at least by October of the year that you apply (e.g., if you plan to start a doctoral program in Fall of 2002, your thesis committee should have your first draft by October 2001). In order of importance, here are the things that current M.A. students should be working on before applying to doctoral school:

(1) Finish the thesis - this means, at the very least, you should have your first draft to your
       committee before you apply

(2) Finish the thesis - the burnout and dropout rate of doctoral students trying to finish their
       thesis while starting a Ph.D. program is quite high

(3) Finish the thesis - doctoral programs are very wary about admitting students who have
       not completed the thesis or at the very least turned in all but the final draft

(4) Update your curriculum vitae - keep track of everything you do while in the M.A. program
      and consult with your advisor about what you should include on the vitae

(5) Prepare a list of schools using the guidelines above

(6) Retake the GRE if your combined qualitative/quantitative score is below 1200

(7) Prepare a list of references (while important for undergraduate students, it is especially
      important that M.A. students give careful consideration to who they ask to write letters of
      recommendation; for M.A. students, your first reference should be your thesis committee
      chair; in consideration of this, see points 1, 2, and 3)

(8) Visit - visit campuses and prearrange interviews with faculty and students. This will give you a
      chance to: (a) meet members of the department in person, (b) demonstrate your initiative and
      interest, and (c) personalize you application by putting a face with the name on the application

(9) Write a Statement of Purpose (as noted above, this should be extensively edited and tailored
      to each program you apply to; you should have the first draft of this to your advisor at least
      by the end of September of the year you apply)

(10) Provide forms, addresses and envelopes to your references - you should do this at least
       by mid-October of the year that you apply; be sure to provide a copy of your statement of
       purpose and curriculum vitae as well as the application deadlines

(11) Apply - many application deadlines (the complete file, not just your application) are in January;
       allow lots of extra time for lost GRE scores, recommendation letters, etc.





I am applying for admission to the graduate program in anthropology for the Fall semester of 1985. An application has already been submitted to the Graduate School, together with transcripts and other pertinent materials. The following is a description of my background and interests in Anthropology, goals for graduate study, and career goals.

My academic training, in anthropology comprises courses in archaeology and cultural anthropology, but physical anthropology has been emphasized. I have also tried to obtain a background in geology, biology, advanced math, and statistics by taking courses in those departments.

As for practical experience, I have been Dr. R. Dale McCall's paid laboratory assistant since the 1982/83 academic year. My duties have been to assist him in the osteological analysis of several pre-Columbian Algonquin ossuary samples (from eastern North Carolina) comprising more than 100 individuals. I have also worked with Dr. David S. Phelps (East Carolina University) for two field seasons in the excavation of several sites along the Chowan River. My duties were to aid in the survey, excavation, processing, cataloging and general project logistics and maintenance in the testing and large scale excavations at these sites. In addition to these projects, I have worked with Dr. Phelps in the salvage of the Burial 7 ossuary at the Baum Site, worked for Dr. Thomas Loftfield (University of North Carolina at Wilmington) on several contract test excavations and have worked as a volunteer for the North Carolina Division of Archives and History on excavations at the Flynt Site in coastal North Carolina.

As a graduate student, I would like to pursue the study of the manifestation and prevalence of disease in Amerindian skeletal populations of the southeastern United States. Also I would like to study the role that diet plays in dental attrition and disease in these populations. I am intensely interested in both of these areas and have some background in them, but would very much like to have the opportunity to study other skeletal populations from different geographical areas and time periods.

In keeping with my interests, my goals as a graduate student include gaining familiarity with the skeletal biology of Amerindians other than the Algonquians of eastern North Carolina, thereby strengthening my ability to identify pathological conditions in bone and increasing my knowledge of the use of multivariate and other statistical methods in the study of skeletal populations.

With these goals in mind, my career objectives at present are to prepare myself for a career in research and teaching in Physical Anthropology, particularly in human osteology. Understanding that anthropology is a diverse field, I have tried to make my experience in anthropology as diverse as possible, preparing myself through academic, field and laboratory experiences for advanced study. I would be pleased to receive consideration for admission as a graduate student at the University of Tennessee.


Sincerely yours,




My interests lie in paleoanthropology, specifically the study of modern human origins and taxonomy. Because paleoanthropolgy requires a strong background in human anatomy and osteology, I have emphasized these in my undergraduate studies. As a graduate student at the University of Kansas I plan to further my studies in skeletal variation and population genetics for application to the study of species concepts and the origin of modern humans. The curriculum offered at the University of Kansas, with an emphasis in paleoanthropology and population genetics would allow me to further my training preparing me for my future research.

My emphasis is in biological anthropology. In preparation for continuing my studies at the graduate level I have taken courses in human osteology, human anatomy and paleoanthropology as well as courses in anthropological statistics and population genetics. I have had the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from such courses by assisting Dr. Mark Griffin, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at San Francisco State University and Jeff Fentress, NAGPRA Coordinator at San Francisco State University. From January 1999 to November 1999 I performed the analysis of the skeletal remains of over 100 individuals from 4-ALA-298 and 4-SHA-169 in northern California for NAGPRA compliance. Aside from analysis, my duties included conducting an inventory of the remains and writing reports. I have also gained experience in the photography of skeletal remains.

To obtain a strong foundation in biological anthropology, I have worked to obtain a background in population genetics and human evolution by continuing my education outside of the classroom. This has included reading current articles from Journal of Human Evolution and American Journal of Physical Anthropology as well as books by authors such as Ernst Mayr. Furthermore, I have taken the initiative in writing a Senior Thesis, a work in progress, looking into species concepts in paleoanthropology. While a Senior Thesis is not required for graduation, it will provide a strong foundation for my future research allowing for the application of my knowledge of osteology and population genetics.

A strong background in both cultural anthropology and archaeology has been important to my training in order to understand the cultural contexts pertaining to biological research. I have taken upper division courses in cultural anthropology with a strong emphasis in social theory and ethnographic and kinship studies. Several semesters of my undergraduate career have been spent obtaining a foundation in archaeological theory and field methods. For two semesters I assisted Professor Roger Robinson of Antelope Valley College in the excavation of 4-LAN-298 in Antelope Valley, California. We conducted stratigraphic studies on this prehistoric Kitanemuk Indian site to determine site boundaries and geography at the time of occupation. Under the supervision of Professor Roger Robinson and the Bureau of Land Management, a third semester was spent was spent in the Panamint Valley, California where I assisted in the surveying and mapping of and 18th century mining town, Anthony Mill for the purposes of site preservation. My responsibilities over these three semesters included excavation, site photography, surveying and map making. I have also accumulated many hours identifying and cataloguing artifacts from the above sites.

Obtaining funding is a necessity for undertaking research projects. Keeping this in mind I have gained experience in grant writing by serving as an assistant to Dr. Lee Davis, Professor and Director of the California Studies Program at San Francisco State University on two grant proposal projects. The first grant, which we were awarded, was to the National Endowment of the Humanities for the establishment of the Pacific Regional Humanities Center in San Francisco. The second, was to the National Park Services to obtain funding for a NAGPRA project, this award has not yet been announced.

My career objectives are to prepare for a career in research and teaching biological anthropology, emphasizing in paleoanthropology and population genetics. A program such as that offered by the University of Kansas would be best equipped to help me achieve my goals. I will be able to develop a strong foundation upon which I can continue my research in taxonomy and modern human origins.





I am applying to the Fall 2001 Graduate Program at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. All relevant materials have already been sent to both the University and the Department of Anthropology. The following is my Statement of Intent regarding the Ph.D. program.

In preparation for graduate studies, my academic education has been comprised extensive coursework in Anthropology including instruction in the Four Fields. My schooling in Cultural Anthropology has focused on courses, which emphasized anthropological theories and/or past and present cultures in areas of current primate distribution. However, Biological Anthropology has been my primary concentration. In the field of Primatology my preparation has centered on primate behavior. In addition, I have engaged in directed research into food acquisition behaviors of Anthropoids, particularly in nutritionally stressed environments. Currently, I am working on a Senior Thesis at San Francisco State University, which is focused on comparing foraging strategies between Cerocpithecus aethiops, Papio cynocephalus and Macaca mulatta.

Aside from anthropological coursework, an emphasis has also been placed on obtaining a background in both Physical and Organic Chemistry. Furthermore, I have also attained an accomplished general education in such areas as psychology, geology and biology.

My interest in the University of Wisconsin - Madison has been influenced by two important factors. First, were the University's facilities, namely the Wisconsin Regional Primate Center. This center conducts a variety of medical and behavioral research in primarily Rhesus monkeys but also with the common marmoset. Consequently, future graduate studies could be accomplished with both a New and an Old World species of Anthropoid. The fact that a species from the New and Old World are present in large numbers at the primate center will also allow for a detailed cross-comparison between Platyrrhini and Catarrhini foraging behaviors.

The primate center provides the opportunity to conduct controlled research in food acquisition strategies. These conditions would allow for a more precise method of examining factors affecting acquisition behaviors both as specific variables and in relation to one another more easily than may be found in the field. Though this does not eliminate the need for field research, it does provide a controlled starting point for future reference.

Additionally, the medical research conducted at the primate center allows for a detailed look at primate biology, which cannot be explored in fieldwork. The combination of precise physiological data on primate digestive systems as well as behavioral information under a controlled setting provides an excellent background for follow-up field research.

Second, was the presence of a diverse and prominent faculty including Karen Strier whose work with Muriqui and conservation has been both instructional and fascinating. Of particular importance to myself is the fact that Dr. Strier continues ongoing field research. It is my ambition to conduct such long-term field research, and I feel Dr. Strier would be an excellent advisor in helping me to achieve my goals.

My research interests are geared toward a study of biological and behavioral mechanisms at work in the food acquisition strategies of Anthropoids in nutritional stressed environments. As the habitats of extent primates' declines and issues of conservation grow more urgent, a complete understanding of food acquisition may be helpful in designing more effective conservation strategies. Since food resources are a primary need, an awareness of how digestive biology and individual/group behaviors are altered in stressed environments may provide clues to comprehending how better to maintain ecological factors relating to the immediate needs of species in conservation.

My interest has lead me to examine the commentary of John F. Oates on the current standing of conservation in West Africa as well as Struhsaker's influential 1972 paper "Rain-Forest Conservation in Africa". In addition, I have tried to familiarize myself with the dentition of Anthropoids as detailed by James Warwick in The Jaws and Teeth of Primates (1960). I have also reviewed the series of articles compiled by John E. Fa and Charles H. Southwick (1988) on the ecology and behavior of primates in food-enriched environments.

Those who have influenced my theoretical orientation in Anthropology and primate studies include, but are not limited to Frans de Waal, Jane Goodall, Franz Boas, and Dian Fossey.

Frans de Waal's studies into altruistic behaviors and coalition formation has shed new light on the cognitive abilities of Anthropoidea, with a special emphasis on Pan troglodytes. This perspective into primate behavior as planned, direct, and calculated has broad sweeping implications for studies in other areas of Primatology. This includes an application into the study of how primates adjust to changing environmental and ecological factors affecting food acquisition.

Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey's groundbreaking research in field studies with two species of apes as attested to what long-term focused study can reveal about specific primate species. Jane Goodall's work is now over thirty years old and new information is still being brought to light. The same is true of Dian Fossey's gorilla groups, though in this instance political instability has led to unfortunate setbacks.

It is my hope that with a doctoral degree in Anthropology, specializing in Primatology I may be able to conduct on-going field research into issues of primate ecology and conservation. I firmly believe that with in depth study into primate foraging behaviors as well as digestive biology maintenance of healthy wild primate populations will be enhanced. I further wish to eventually be able to use my degree to teach at the University level as well as contribute to the study of primates through the publication of my research results.




I am applying for admission to the graduate program in anthropology for the Fall semester of 1989. An application has already been submitted to the Graduate School, together with transcripts and other pertinent materials. The following is a description of career goals and qualifications.

I. Career Goals

Much of the history of skeletal analysis has been dominated by descriptive and typological approaches. The recent impetus has shifted to processual approaches in inter- and intra-populational studies. These studies have provided a more comprehensive picture of human adaptation.

As an integral part of these studies, human remains have recently become more intensively utilized in the inference of past lifeways. The hard tissues, skeletal and dental, can provide invaluable information on dietary reconstruction, demographic analysis, nutritional status, and paleopathology. Through the examination of these factors, an assessment can be made as to the physical well-being of a population(s) and their response to their environment. The environment has a profound effect on the development and maintenance of the hard tissues, and through osteological analysis, these effects may be observed. The environmental factors which affect the hard tissues can be subsumed under the general term "stress." Environmental stress comprises a number of inter-related factors: diet, disease, population size and mobility, physical exercise, and work. Through analogy with living populations and comparison with documented skeletal samples, inferences can be made as to the causative agents in skeletal variability and pathological processes.

One of the topics recently addressed by archaeologists and physical anthropologists alike is the effects on populations of a shift in subsistence patterns. Without adequate zooarchaeological evidence, change in lifeway, lifeway-quality, and subsistence patterns may be difficult to recognize. Skeletal remains can provided the researcher with an accurate and cumulative record of these changes. For purposes of clarity and sample comparability, archaeologists have generally restricted subsistence patterns to the broad classifications of "hunter-gatherers" and "agriculturalists." As a logical extension of these studies, researchers have begun to examine the effects of colonizing efforts on native populations (e.g., the Spanish conquest of the New World). These studies are providing new insights into the understanding of populational responses to the environment and human adaptation in general.

In keeping with this new direction in bioarchaeology, the general area that I wish to pursue is the human response to change in lifeway and corresponding environmental stressors. I have concentrated on examining the effects these have on the dentition. The dentition provides the researcher with a relatively indestructible and accurate indicator of populations health status, and to some extent, genetic affiliation. Inferences can be made from the size, morphology, and enamel or other developmental defects of the teeth. Most recently, under the supervision of Dr. Clark Spencer Larsen, I have examined stress related changes in a time successive series of populations from the Georgia and Florida coasts. In relation to this emphasis, I am currently working on the estimation of population distance between the cemetery populations of the Spanish missions Santa Catalina de Guale and Santa Catalina de Guale de Santa Maria. For this study, I am using a series of dental quasi-continuous traits (based on a system developed by Dr. Christy Turner, Arizona State University). It has been recognized that dental side asymmetry, anagenesis, and agenesis may be directly or indirectly correlated with environmental stressors. Because these characteristics have a direct bearing on any quasi-continuous trait analysis, they form an important part of my study. This research will form the basis of my M.A. thesis.

As a doctoral student, I would like to continue the examination of the human response to environmental changes. In keeping with my research orientation, Pennsylvania State would offer the best opportunity for me to obtain a quality doctorate degree in anthropology. Dr. George Milner's emphasis on bioarchaeology and the strong program in biocultural adaptation at Pennsylvania State University in general would clearly provide me the direction that is necessary to develop in these areas.

II. Qualifications

As you can see from my curriculum vitae, I have considerable field and laboratory experience in biological anthropology and archaeology. My field and laboratory experience has included excavation at historic and prehistoric archaeological sites as well as work with field and laboratory forensic investigations. My archaeological field experience with human skeletal remains has involved work with human remains in a variety of contexts including prehistoric and historic primary inhumations, prehistoric ossuaries, and peat bog mortuary ponds. I have performed and directed every aspect of curation and analysis of human skeletal remains in my laboratory jobs as well as in my research.

My research experience has included working as Biological Anthropology collections manager for R. Dale McCall at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Clark Spencer Larsen at Northern Illinois University, as well as research assistant for Robert Dailey at Florida State University. My duties as collections manager for Dr. McCall included supervising the cleaning, inventory, and osteological analysis of several Precolumbian Algonquian ossuary samples comprising more than 200 individuals. This position also entailed participation in the excavation of the ossuaries directed by David S. Phelps (East Carolina University). As a graduate student, I have assisted Robert Dailey (Florida State University) with forensic cases for the Leon County sheriff's department. I have also worked as osteology collections manager for Clark S. Larsen at Northern Illinois University from January 1987 until present. This research appointment involved the supervision of cleaning, curation, inventory, and skeletal analysis of several series of skeletal populations from Northern Spanish Florida spanning a time period from A.D. 1150 to A.D. 1702.

In each of the above positions my duties have included supervision of preparation and curation of skeletal remains from large populations, as well as participation in all phases of skeletal analysis of these population samples, including metric and nonmetric measurement, estimation of sex and age-at-death, identification of pathological conditions, and computer analyses of data generated from these observations. Each of these positions required the supervision and instruction of laboratory assistants involved in the various phases of osteological analysis. In addition, I have worked extensively with Dr. Larsen in the implementation and maintenance of a computerized data base for skeletal remains involving over 2,500 individuals. This data base includes information on age-at-death, sex, metric and non-metric measurements of the cranium, post-cranial skeleton, and teeth, and information on gross pathology. Also, as can be seen from my vitae, I have been involved in other extensive fieldwork dealing with Amerindian skeletal remains mostly from the southeast U.S.





Rikka M. Knoll


1 October 2000

Home Address:

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Social Security Number:

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B.A., Summa Cum Laude, Moorhead State University, Moorhead, Minnesota.
*Major: Anthropology/Forensic Science


North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota.
*Majoring in Anthropology/Forensic Science
*Other courses of study include: Statistics, Genetics, Anthropology


Fargo North High School, Fargo, North Dakota.
*Graduated June 1995 with High Honors
*Major course of study: Accelerated Math and Sciences, Foreign Languages






National Residence Hall Honorary. is a service of the National Association of College and University Residence Halls, Inc. It was created to give national as well as local recognition to students making outstanding contributions to their Residence Halls. Chapter members represent the top 1% of the student leaders in residence and are those who have contributed extraordinary amounts of personal time and energy in order to make the Residence Halls a positive place to live and learn.


Dean's List, College of Humanities and Social Sciences. (Summer)


Dean's List, College of Humanities and Social Sciences. (Fall-Spring)


Inducted into the National Honor Society.



Professional Experience:


Research Internship, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Project Title: An assessment of biological relationships for Native American populations of Spanish Florida. Mark C. Griffin, Principle Investigator. (June-July)


Field supervisor, Hilbert accident investigation body search, Barnes County Sheriff's Department, Case Number 96-248, Sheriff Rhiney Weber, Lead Investigator, Mark C. Griffin, Forensic Anthropologist. (August)


Analysis of human skeletal remains recovered from Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery investigation, Fargo Police Department, Case Number 97-13215, Detective Paul Lies, Lead Investigator, Mark C. Griffin, Forensic Anthropologist. (May-July)


Crew member, Forensic excavation Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery investigation, Fargo Police Department, Case Number 97-13215, Detective Paul Lies, Lead Investigator, Mark C. Griffin, Forensic Anthropologist. (June)


Crew member, Probstfield Farm excavation (MS 97-2), Moorhead State University, Michael Michlovic, Principal Investigator. (May-June)


Participant, Death Scene Investigation: A Forensic Entomology and Anthropology Field Training Workshop. Rensselaer Police Department and the Jasper County Sheriff's Department. Workshop instructors Neal H. Haskell, Stephen P. Nawrocki, Matthew A. Williamson, & Christopher W. Schmidt. (May)


Crew member and videographer, Forensic excavation at Moorhead State Regional Science Center, Forensic Anthropology Field School, Moorhead State University, Mark C. Griffin, Principle Investigator. (November)


Crew member and videographer, Forensic Excavation Roche homicide investigation, Fargo Police Department, Case Number 76-11458, Detective Greg Stone, Lead Investigator, Mark C. Griffin, Forensic Anthropologist. (September)






GRIFFIN, MARK C. AND RIKKA M. KNOLL. 2000. Reiterís syndrome in a prehistoric burial from southern Indiana. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Supplement 30:166.


GRIFFIN, MARK C. AND RIKKA M. KNOLL. 1997. Spondyloarthropathy in a prehistoric burial from Southern Indiana. Midwest Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology Association Newsletter, Issue 5.



Professional Meetings Papers:


(with Mark C. Griffin) Reiterís syndrome in a prehistoric burial from southern Indiana. Poster presented at the 69th annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, San Antonio, Texas.


(with Mark C. Griffin) Spondyloarthropathy in a prehistoric burial from Southern Indiana. Poster presented at the 4th annual meetings of the Midwest Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology Association meetings, Chicago, Illinois.



Unpublished Research Reports:


GRIFFIN, MARK C. AND RIKKA M. KNOLL. 1997. A Report on a Body Search Conducted for the Hilbert Accident Investigation. A report prepared for the Barnes County, North Dakota Sheriff's Department, Case No. 96-248. Sheriff Rhiney Weber, Lead Investigator, Mark C. Griffin, Forensic Anthropologist.


GRIFFIN, MARK C., RIKKA M. KNOLL, AND E.E. WATKIN. 1997. Osteological Analysis of Human Skeletal Remains Recovered from Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery. A report prepared for the Fargo, North Dakota Police Department, Case No. 97-13215. Mark C. Griffin, Forensic Anthropologist, Detective Paul Lies, Lead Investigator.


GRIFFIN, MARK C., RIKKA M. KNOLL, AND JASON E. STRATTON. 1997. A Report on a Forensic Archaeological Excavation for the Roche Homicide Investigation. Fargo Police Department Case Number 76-11458. Mark C. Griffin, Forensic Anthropologist, Detective Greg Stone, Lead Investigator, Paul Lies, Lead Evidence Technician.


GRIFFIN, MARK C., RIKKA M. KNOLL, JODY A. ILGEN, MARYTHERESA F. FARLEY, MICHAEL J. FILLENWARTH, MELISSA GROCH, AND J. CAPRICA RICHARDSON. 1996. Osteological analysis of human skeletal remains from the Kocher Cemetery Site (12K780, DHPA accidental discovery No. 910002). Report prepared for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.


KNOLL, RIKKA M. 1996. Chronological and Analytical Report on the Forensic Excavation at the MSU Regional Science Center, Near Hawley, Minnesota. Moorhead State University Forensic Field School Report.



Non-academic Work Experience:

July 2000-present

Laboratory Technician, Towncrest Internal Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa.
*Perform venipuncture on out-patients for the purpose of laboratory testing.
* Responsible for performing and cataloguing blood samples.

January 1999-June 2000

Phlebotomist, Community Bio-Resources, Fargo, North Dakota.
*Perform adult venipuncture for the purpose of plasmapheresis.

May 1996-March 1997

Kennel Personnel, Fargo Boarding and Grooming Service, Fargo, North Dakota.
*Caretaker for kenneled and boarding animals.
*Provide meals, watering, walking and medication to boarding animals.
*Gained proficiency with the computer program used.
*Answer phones, work with clients and cash register.

September 1995-March 1997

Pet/House Sitter, Creature Comfort/Homeguard, Fargo, North Dakota.
*Caretaker for animals in their own homes.
*Periodically requires overnight stays with animals in their own homes.
*Daily periodical home and pet checks.
*Exercise pets on a daily basis for clients who are not physically capable of
  exercising their own pets.

May 1994-May 1996

Kennel Personnel, Airport Animal Hospital, Fargo, North Dakota.
*Caretaker for kenneled and boarding animals.
*Assisted with surgery preparations, treatments, and medication administration.
*Assisted with vaccines and treatment procedures.
*Gained proficiency with computer program used.
*Answered phones, worked with clients and cash register.






Captain Dana Dane, DVM of Veterinary Medicine and Captain of Public Health, COT Class 97-03 Charlie Flight, PSC No. 3 Box 3000, Maxwell AFB Gunter Annex, Montgomery, Alabama, 36114-5000. (334) 270-4000 ext. 4093 Room #229.


Dr. Mark C. Griffin, Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California 94132. (415) 338-7519.


Dr. Michael G. Michlovic, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, 102 Lommen Hall, Moorhead State University, Moorhead, Minnesota, 56560. E-Mail:, (218) 236-2035.


Mr. Scott Mitchell, Hall Director, Pavek Hall, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota, 58105. E-Mail:, (701) 231-3233.




Last Updated 17 December 2001

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