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KATHERINE BRUNSON | PhD, Assistant Professor

KATHERINE BRUNSON is a zooarchaeologist who studies the origins of China’s domesticated animals and the environmental impacts of animal domestication in East Asia. She is currently investigating the genetic relationships between domestic cattle and the extinct East Asian wild aurochs. She also co-directs the online Oracle Bones in East Asia project. Her research interests include ancient DNA, the origins of pastoralism in East Asia, extirpations and extinctions of China’s native mammals, oracle bones and the ritual aspects of animal domestication, bone artifact production techniques, and archaeological collections management. Dr. Brunson has participated in numerous archaeological survey and excavation projects across China and at the Maya site of Copan, Honduras. Her publications can be found here.

NINA HIRAI | Class of 2023

NINA HIRAI is currently our senior head lab assistant. She is a senior at Wesleyan University where she is a Film and Anthropology double major with a minor in Archaeology. In addition to designing the lab website and managing projects taking place in the Environmental Archaeology Lab, she is also responsible for creating educational videos about 3D scanning, developing public outreach modules, the permanent rehousing of osteological collections, and assisting with database cleanup and analysis for the Oracle Bones in East Asia project. She is particularly interested in the cross-section between film and anthropology/archaeology and its potential to increase accessibility and community outreach in the field of Archaeology.

MELANIE CHAM | Class of 2024

MELANIE CHAM is a junior studying Earth & Environmental Science and Biology. In the Environmental Archeology Lab, she assumes the role of junior head lab assistant working to catalog specimens and organize community events. Outside of the EAL, she is a collections assistant for the College of East Asian Studies Art and Archival Collections. She also researches Miocene paleobotany with Dr. Dana Royer (Wesleyan University) and Dr. Caroline Strömberg (University of Washington).


ANDRES ANGELES-PAREDES is a junior at Wesleyan working in the Environmental Archeology Lab. This semester, he is working as a 3D Scanning Technician to scan and model the vertebrate osteology collections in the lab. Andres is a prospective religion major and film minor and is also interested in studying english and archeology.


KIRAN KOWLASKI | Class of 2023

Headshot of Kiran Kowalski

KIRAN KOWALSKI is a  Biology and Anthropology major at Wesleyan. In the lab, Kiran is currently is working on 3D scanning of Wesleyan’s collections as well as developing teaching materials used in a variety of archaeology courses. Kiran is also taking on the role of teaching assistant for Professor Brunson’s ARCP203: Ancient DNA course.


NICK BOWMAN | Class of 2023

Headshot of Nick Bowman

NICK BOWMAN is a senior at Wesleyan University, studying Archaeology and Environmental Studies. He has assisted in 3D scanning projects to digitize the university’s collections as well as producing labels for the Anthropological collections. In the lab, Nick is cataloging stone tool teaching collections and developing educational modules that use the stone tool and paleoanthropology collections.

ADAM SUSSBAUER| Class of 2024

ADAM SUSSBAUER is Junior studying Earth and Environmental Science with a linked major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Archaeology. In the EAL, he does object photography and catalogs the osteology collections. Outside of the lab, Adam plays ultimate frisbee for Nietzsch Factor. He also builds sets and does tech for theater and dance shows.

AVNISH KULKARNI | Class of 2024

AVNISH KULKARNI is a junior at Wesleyan with intended majors in Archaeology and Earth & Environmental Studies, and an intended minor in South Asian studies. In the lab, Avnish is working under Head Assistant Nina Hirai to help rehouse the Environmental Archaeology Lab’s collections, as well as Wesleyan University’s osteology collections. Ultimately, his goal is to study Environmental Archaeology or Paleoanthropology in South Asia.

ELIZABETH COOPER | Class of 2024

ELIZABETH COOPER is a junior at Wesleyan and an intended Archeology and Anthropology major. They are interested in experimental archeology and the rediscovery of ancient production techniques. In the lab, Beth is currently flintknapping and creating stone tool teaching collections for use in archaeology courses and public outreach.


GUY BENNEVAT HANINOVICH is a current senior double majoring in Computer Science and Earth & Environmental Science with an Informatics and Modeling minor. Guy is currently working with Dr. Brunson to analyze and compare genome sequences of an unknown ancient cattle species and known ancient and modern, wild and domestic, DNA.

QUIN STEINMETZ | Class of 2024

QUIN STEINMETZ is currently a junior at Wesleyan. She is working as a course assistant to the Ancient DNA class Professor Brunson teaches. Her majors are East Asian Studies and Archaeology, so, naturally, she is quite interested in East Asian archaeology. Quin will help with setting up materials for the Ancient DNA course. And in the lab, she will assist in updating the virtual and physical paleoanthropology collections

FLETCHER LEVY | Class of 2023

FLETCHER LEVY is a Biology and E&ES double major, currently working as a 3D Scanning Technician for the EAL. He is using the Artec Scanner to create models of each bone within the skeleton of mammals that are closely associated with human settlements. It is hoped that these bones can be for identification of fragments while in the field. In addition, Fletcher is working with the Wesleyan Natural History Collections to catalogue specimens and associated information into the relational database “Specify7”. He has also prepared several exhibits across campus including the “Specimen of the Month”, and “Wisdom Teeth”, both found in Exley Science Center.


ANDY TAN | Class of 2021

ANDY TAN is a former student at Wesleyan who graduated with a double major in Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences. Working as a student curator at the Peoples Museum, he has worked on natural history collections spanning various taxa, from Lepidoptera to Mollusca. Andy also enjoys exhibit and graphic designing, fossil and historical cast restoration, as well as taxonomy research. He contemplates evolutionary questions during his leisure time and debates about them with his partner-in-crime Yu Kai as they look forward to photographing spring ephemerals and other New England natives. 

YU KAI TAN | Class of 2020

Headshot of Yu Kai Tan

YU KAI TAN is a former student at Wesleyan who graduated with a triple major in Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Anthropology. Currently, he studies the systematics, functional morphology and biogeography of freshwater mussels (Order: Unionoida) in North America using the 19th century collections in the Peoples Museum. His work as a former student curator in the museum includes: restoring Shelley the Glyptodon, Deinotherium, and Mosasaur; designing exhibitions; and leading digitization efforts on Specify. He enjoys collecting natural history objects and living non-horticultural plants, and painting.