About the Phillip Lee Walker Bioarcheology and Biogeochemistry Lab
Using cutting-edge technology and techniques, Dr. Danielle Kurin makes new discoveries about the ancient civilizations of Latin America. In addition to her own research, Dr. Danielle Kurin oversees the Phillip Lee Walker Bioarchaeology and Biogeochemistry Lab at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB).
The mission of the Phillip Lee Walker Bioarcheology and Biogeochemistry Lab is to conduct forensic, historical, and archaeological analysis of human remains, usually from North and South America. The lab was named for noted professor Dr. Phillip Walker, a proponent of studying the human skeleton to learn about aspects such as behaviors, health, diet, trauma, and pathologies.
One of the central focuses of the lab is to study the collapse of civilizations. By studying groups, individuals, and segments of society within these civilizations, researchers unearth information related to the phenomena that contributed to their collapse, and some cases, recovery.
Much of this analysis is through the use of a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which allows researchers to conduct non-intrusive surface analysis of materials. The spectrometer is typically used to analyze obsidian, metals, and ceramics, but the lab is currently investigating this tool for its effectiveness in studying hard and soft human tissue.