Bethany M. Usher, PhD

Bethany M. Usher, PhD

Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education

Faculty Directory

Research Focus

I take students to graveyards – I am a biological anthropologist who studies the health and social structure of past communities by investigating their cemeteries from both osteological and archaeological perspectives. I have developed models that demonstrate the mortality risk of certain skeletal lesions, including signs of infection, poor nutrition, and delayed growth. Dr. Usher has studied how the social patterns of Anabaptist communities in Pennsylvania are reflected in their burial patterns, and how this can be used to interpret other cemeteries. Currently, I and my students are studying how children\’s skeletons show patterns of poor health that affect their risk of death, and how unhealthy and stunted children are over-represented in skeletal collections. Infectious disease, injuries, and food insecurity cause mortality, and understanding their impact on communities in the past can help us prepare for the future.

Dr. Usher is passionate about getting students to apply their classroom experiences and learn how exciting it is to tackle intellectual challenges. I am a leading advocate for undergraduate research, where students learn about the process of research and apply it to our Grand Challenges and Global Goals.

Current Projects
  • Skeletal Growth Selectivity Project
  • Undergraduate Research in and beyond the classroom

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