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Maria Ostendorf Smith to deliver College of Arts and Sciences Lecture, November 7

Anthropology Professor Maria Smith is working with students like Katharine Woollen to study remains unearthed from the Schroeder Mounds in order to answer questions about a mysterious pre-Columbian people. (Editor’s note: The bones in this photograph are replica skeletal remains.)

Anthropology Professor Maria Smith has worked with students like Katharine Woollen to study remains unearthed from the Schroeder Mounds in order to answer questions about a mysterious pre-Columbian people. (Editor’s note: The bones in this photograph are replica skeletal remains.)

Professor of Anthropology Maria Ostendorf Smith will deliver the Fall College of Arts and Sciences Lecture on Tuesday, November 7, at 7 p.m. in the Old Main Room in the Bone Student Center. Her talk, “Tales Told by the Bones: The Archaeology of the Human Skeleton,” is free and open to the public.

Smith, who holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Tennessee, is a biological anthropologist with the research specialization in paleopathology (i.e., premodern patterns of disease) and biological archaeology. For the past 35 years, she has been investigating various health status issues—diet, endemic disease, malnutrition, deliberate trauma, degenerative joint disease—in pre-Columbian human skeletal samples, dating from about ~6000 B.C.–A.D. 1540, from the Tennessee River Valley of eastern and west-central Tennessee.

Smith is primarily known for her research in three areas: intergroup violence, socioeconomic correlates of oral health, and the socioeconomic correlates of endemic disease. She documented the earliest evidence of pre-Columbian trophy taking and identified regional patterns in non-warfare related (probably ritualized) interpersonal violence.

Before joining the anthropology faculty in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in 2008, Smith taught at Northern Illinois University from 1990–2003 and at Loyola University Chicago from 2003–2008.

A strong advocate of student-based research, most of Smith’s publications since arriving at Illinois State have been co-authored with graduate and undergraduate students.

The Arts and Sciences Lecture Series was established by action of the Arts and Sciences Council on March 8, 1968. Its purpose is to honor Arts and Sciences faculty members who have made outstanding scholarly contributions to the University and to their disciplines. There are two lectures each year, a Fall Lecture and a Spring Lecture.

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