Kimmarie Murphy, associate professor of anthropology, joined the faculty at Kenyon in 2004. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the State University of New York in Plattsburgh and a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from Indiana University. Trained as a biocultural anthropologist, she is interested in understanding contemporary patterns of health and nutrition as a way of interpreting diet and disease in the past. Her research focuses on human osteology with an emphasis on paleopathology and stable isotope analysis.

Murphy has worked in southern Africa, North America and Europe looking at health and diet in past populations. Murphy has also worked with students on the importance of local foods in people’s diets, specifically foods obtained at venues such as local farmers’ markets. Most recently she has begun working in Iceland as a Senior Specialist for the Skagafjordur Church and Settlement Survey (SCASS). SCASS is a multi-year project in Northern Iceland to understand the formation of social stratification and property rights during the Viking Age and after (AD 874-1700). The project is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Icelandic Government.

Areas of Expertise

Diet and health, human osteology, paleopathology/epidemiology, human evolution, disease ecology, human adaptation, Stable Isotope Analysis, Icelandic archaeology, African archaeology.

Education

1996 — Doctor of Philosophy from Indiana Univ Bloomington

1993 — Master of Arts from Indiana Univ Bloomington

1989 — Bachelor of Arts from Suny Coll Plattsburgh

Courses Recently Taught

Biological anthropology studies the biological diversity of our species and the evolutionary history that has led us to our present condition. The course includes: (1) examination of the genetics underlying evolution and the mechanisms by which change occurs; (2) variation and adaptation among living humans; (3) living primate populations as keys to understanding our evolutionary past; and (4) human evolution. This course is designed to expose students to the breadth of biological anthropology and to prepare them for upper-level classes in anthropology and related disciplines. Enrollment is limited to first-year students and sophomores. This foundation course is required for upper-level work in biological anthropology courses. Offered every semester.

This course investigates the central role food plays in human biology and culture. We will explore food from an evolutionary perspective, examining nutritional variations in subsistence strategies ranging from foraging to industrial societies. Students will come to understand that food is a cultural construction as we look at the symbolism and utilization of food from a cross-cultural perspective. Finally, utilizing a biocultural perspective, we will combine our understanding of biology and culture to see the effects of social, political and economic issues on human nutrition. Nutritional anthropology uses a variety of methods, ranging from ethnographic techniques to methods in biological anthropology for assessing the effect of nutrition on human biology. Throughout the semester students will become familiar with nutritional anthropology's varied approaches. This counts toward the upper-level biological or cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111, 112 or 113 or permission of instructor. Offered every year.

This course focuses on the application of human skeletal and morphological data to various interpretive problems (descriptive, comparative and analytic) in biological anthropology. Topics include basic human skeletal and dental anatomy; determination of age, sex and stature; developmental and pathological anomalies; osteometric methods and techniques; various comparative statistical methods; and problems of ethics, excavation, restoration and preservation. The course also includes an examination of representative research studies that utilize the above data and methods. This counts toward the upper-level biological anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.

Medical anthropology is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the influences of both biology and culture on the human experience of disease. This course introduces students to the anthropological study of disease ecology and medical systems in other cultures. We will explore the role of disease in humans from an evolutionary perspective, noting the influence that culture, ecology, economy, history and politics have had in the past as well as the present. In addition, we will look at the efficacy and nature of both non-Western and Western ethnomedical systems and the cultural and psychodynamic features of illness. Throughout this course we will examine the application of a medical anthropological perspective in developing sensitivity for cultural and biological variation within the United States and abroad. This counts toward the upper-level biological or cultural anthropology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ANTH 111 or 113 or permission of instructor. Offered occasionally.

The Anthropology Department reserves individual study for those students who are unusually motivated in an area of the field and who we believe are responsible enough to handle the challenge of working independently. Such courses might be research-oriented (e.g., students returning from off-campus study programs with data) but are more commonly reading-oriented courses allowing students to explore in greater depth topics that interest them or that overlap with their major course of study. To arrange for individual study, a student should consult with a faculty member during the semester prior to when the independent work is to be undertaken. The individual-study course may be designed exclusively by the faculty member or it may be designed in consultation with the student. For reading courses, a bibliography is created, and the student reads those works, meeting periodically (weekly or bi-weekly) with the faculty member to discuss them. Faculty directing the individual study will set the terms of course evaluation, which typically involve either a research paper or an extensive annotated bibliography with a short explanatory essay tying the entries together and situating the debates which they represent. Another option is for the student to write one- to two-page assessments of each book or reading at intervals throughout the semester. The faculty member comments on these assessments and may request periodic reassessments. The course culminates with a synthetic paper that pulls together all the readings. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek the departmental approval before the established deadline. This course can count toward the major or minor.

This course provides students with the opportunity to conduct significant independent research on a topic of their choice. Typically, a student will propose a research focus in consultation with a member of the faculty who agrees to serve as the project advisor. Late in the student's junior year or early in the senior year, they submit a brief description of the honors project to the department. This synopsis outlines the central question being addressed, what methods will be used in conducting the study and how the thesis will be organized. All anthropology faculty not on leave at the time of the proposal's submission review the document and decide whether it will be approved or declined based on the proposal's intellectual merit and feasibility as well as the student's past classroom performance, demonstrated motivation in pursuit of excellence and organizational skills. After the project is approved, the student builds an honors committee consisting of the advisor and one other faculty member who need not be an anthropologist. The student's senior year is spent conducting the research and writing the honors thesis, although both processes may well have begun in previous years. The thesis is read by the two members of the honors committee as well as a third person who is an expert in the field addressed by the thesis but who is not a part of the Kenyon faculty. An oral thesis defense, involving the student and the three readers, takes place near the end of the spring semester. The readers then determine whether to award no honors, Honors, High Honors or Highest Honors to the thesis based on the written document and the student's defense of his/her work. A cumulative GPA of 3.33 and major GPA of 3.5 are required. Permission of instructor and department chair required.

This course provides students with the opportunity to conduct significant independent research on a topic of their choice. Typically, a student will propose a research focus in consultation with a member of the faculty who agrees to serve as the project advisor. Late in the student's junior year or early in the senior year, they submit a brief description of the honors project to the department. This synopsis outlines the central question being addressed, what methods will be used in conducting the study and how the thesis will be organized. All anthropology faculty not on leave at the time of the proposal's submission review the document and decide whether it will be approved or declined based on the proposal's intellectual merit and feasibility as well as the student's past classroom performance, demonstrated motivation in pursuit of excellence and organizational skills. After the project is approved, the student builds an honors committee consisting of the advisor and one other faculty member who need not be an anthropologist. The student's senior year is spent conducting the research and writing the honors thesis, although both processes may well have begun in previous years. The thesis is read by the two members of the honors committee as well as a third person who is an expert in the field addressed by the thesis but who is not a part of the Kenyon faculty. An oral thesis defense, involving the student and the three readers, takes place near the end of the spring semester. The readers then determine whether to award no honors, Honors, High Honors or Highest Honors to the thesis based on the written document and the student's defense of his/her work. A cumulative GPA of 3.33 and major GPA of 3.5 are required. Permission of instructor and department chair required.