Research Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to conduct research across one or all of the three following subfields.


Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology that examines the human past through material remains. From artifacts found with fossilized remains of our earliest human ancestors in Africa dating to millions of years ago, to historical buildings in urban or rural Oregon, archaeology analyzes the physical remains of the past in pursuit of a broad and comprehensive understanding of human cultures. At the University of Oregon, archaeology is practiced by a diverse group of faculty and students working in North America, the Pacific Rim, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. We study a broad array of topics, including settlement of the Americas, colonization and population dispersals, the archaeology and historical ecology of islands and coastal regions, fishing societies, transitions to agriculture, and emergence of social inequality. We examine the effects of economic, environmental, cultural, and evolutionary factors on subsistence, social structure, ethnicity, identity, and gender in archaeological contexts, and how humans adapted, influenced, and altered their natural and social environments. We work on issues surrounding the management of archaeological sites and cultural heritage, and the relationship between indigenous and minoritized groups in archaeology. We foster indigenous scholarship and promote collaborative relationships with tribal and local community stakeholders.

The archaeology program maintains strong linkages with various units on campus, such as the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, the African Studies Program, and the CAMCOR lab (the comprehensive materials characterization center at the University of Oregon). Methodologically, the program is strong in archaeological science with laboratories for archaeobotany, zooarchaeology, stable isotope analysis, and ceramic technology research.

Biological Anthropology

We apply an evolutionary perspective to a broad array of topics in biological anthropology. Our faculty and student body is highly cohesive and diverse with research excellence in evolutionary medicine and primate evolution. Our work involves the study of humans and their closest relatives, the non-human primates, through a variety of complementary field and lab approaches. Areas of research include human biology, human behavioral ecology, molecular anthropology, paleontology, and primatology. We have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, World Health Organization, and various private foundations and international agencies, and our work has been published in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. We are highly interdisciplinary natural scientists with ongoing collaborations with one another, other anthropological subfields, researchers across the UO campus, and scientists around the world.

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology at the University of Oregon embraces a diverse array of approaches to the study of culture and society. Students learn to take what we often see as individual experiences and connect them to larger social issues, achieving cross-cultural understanding and critical social awareness. Faculty and graduate students in the department conduct research on a wide range of theoretical questions about culture and society, applying ethnographic, historical, comparative and interdisciplinary methodologies. Cultural anthropology faculty conduct research in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, West Africa, North America and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The faculty’s areas of focus include:

  • Inequality and power: social justice, indigenous and human rights, migration, social movements, identity and representations, nationalisms, religion, race, sex, gender and sexuality
  • Engaging communities: cultural heritage, historic preservation, cultural resource management, expressive culture and performance, critical and decolonial praxis/methods
  • Global cultural connections: globalization, political economy, development, nationalisms, labor, tourism, migration, area studies, conflict, psychology, folklore, and medical anthropology

The cultural program is highly interdisciplinary and involves collaborations with the other anthropological subfields, with researchers across campus, and with international scholars. The research experience and skills students gain can be used in careers in law, medicine, education, government, business, and other fields.

Cultural anthropology faculty are also involved in numerous initiatives, projects, programs and centers across campus. Some of these include: