PEOPLE IN THE ROBBINS SCHUG HUMAN DIVERSITY LAB
Gwen Robbins Schug, Ph.D.
Dr. Gwen Robbins Schug is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Dr. Schug received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 2007. Her research is focused on how history, society, and culture guided human responses to crisis throughout the Holocene and how these adaptive challenges affected human health. She is primarily interested in the role of social inequality and the experience of resilience in the face of climate and environmental changes. Dr. Schug is also involved in research on the ethics of the curation and use of human skeletons in teaching and research. She has primarily worked in India but has recently begun projects in Oman and Italy. She is the editor of the Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Climate and Environmental Change (2020) and The Companion to South Asia in the Past (2016), and author of the book, Bioarchaeology and Climate Change (2011). She is also the author of more than 40 articles and book chapters. She is the co-Editor-in-Chief of Bioarchaeology International and an academic editor at PLOS One. She is the mother of four children, three dogs, two cats, and welcomed her first grandchild in 2022.
Sangeeta Mahajan was a practicing dentist and oral surgeon for 30 years. She received her Masters in Ancient Indian History and Culture from Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth (Pune, India) in 2015 and an MPhil in Archaeology from Deccan College Post-Graduate Research Institute (Pune, India) in 2019. She is a dental anthropologist, interested in applying her knowledge of dental biology, anatomy, and histology to archaeological questions about diet, migration, and human health. Her Master's thesis in Archaeology was the first successful analysis of human dental enamel isotopes from the site of Inamgaon in India. She used these data to make inferences about paleodiet, paleoclimate, and age of weaning that have been completely inaccessible until she undertook this project. Sangeeta is a member of the Isomemo Initiative (funded by Max Planck Institute, Jena, Germany) and serves as the administrator of the Iso-India subdivision. She has published four pathbreaking publications in International journals. In addition to her interests in bioarchaeology, Sangeeta completed a diploma in Urdu, a certificate in Prkrut, an advanced course in Persian, and is currently taking classes in Japanese and pursuing the third level (HSK3) in Mandarin Chinese. She has completed courses in Modi, Newari, Brahmi, and Old Persian Cuneiform. She is a high altitude trekker and has hiked in the Himalayas and the Sahyahdri Range. Her dissertation will focus on the influence of climate and environmental change on human migration and dietary choices during the Bronze Age. Sangeeta is beginning her Doctoral work in Fall, 2023.
Charlotte Shore received her Bachelors degree in Biology from UNCG in 2022 and is taking a gap year to prepare for graduate school. Charlotte learned genetics and genomics techniques for studying microbiomes in cockroaches from Dr. Kasie Raymann (NC State) and was recruited to Dr. Robbins Schug's lab to characterize the oral microbiota of individuals from Oman during the Bronze Age using metagenomic analysis of bacterial DNA from dental calculus. She was trained for aDNA extraction from Dental Calculus by Laura Weyrich (Penn State) in Summer, 2023 in a collaboration to characterize oral microbiota in an individual from India who had lepromatous leprosy (from the Bronze Age site of Balathal).
Mahroo Ahsan received her Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences at NC State. She is planning to go to Dental School and is using her time as a Post-Bacc at UNCG as a springboard to the upcoming application cycle. She will be using LM and SEM techniques to characterize dental calculus on archaeological teeth from Bronze Age Oman. She is married, with 3 kids and 2 cats at home in Durham, NC.
Ruby Arteaga (Alumni, Summer 2023)
Ruby Arteaga received her Bachelors degree in Exercise Science at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is currently doing a post-bac in Biology at UNCG. "I hope to apply to medical school to become a doctor and possibly do research in women's health." In Dr. Robbins Schug lab, Ruby is using a Micro CT on bone samples from developing children to characterize the range of variation in microstructural features and how these become deranged when homeostasis becomes disrupted.
Evan Hernandez is a post-baccalaureate student on the pre-dental track at UNCG. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2023 with a degree in biology. He plans to study dentistry in 2025 with a future goal of becoming a pediatric dentist. In his off time, Evan works as a pediatric dental assistant and as an Uber driver. In this lab, Evan assists with a project that characterizes SEM micrographs of dental calculus from Bronze Age-era sites in Oman.
Cameron Jackson is a pre-medical post-baccalaureate student in his second year at the University of North Carolina Greensboro pursuing admission to medical school and a career as a physician. An advocate for the expansion of healthcare access in rural communities, Cameron hopes to specialize in general surgery and practice in areas of high need. In addition to his academic pursuits, Cameron works as an Emergency Medical Technician for Davidson County Emergency Services. Prior to his tenure at UNCG, Mr. Jackson, a classically trained operatic bass-baritone, appeared with opera companies across the United States completing residencies at the Indianapolis Opera and Opera Naples. Mr. Jackson holds a Bachelor and Master of Music in vocal performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he was a Fellow of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. Cameron will be investigating the microstructural effects of skeletal emaciation using polarized light microscopy.
Christopher Meneses is a first-year pre-medical post-baccalaureate student majoring in Biology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro with the goal of gaining admission to Physician Assistant School. He holds a BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Arizona State University, as well as an Associate degree in Arabic from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. Prior to studying at UNCG he was an Arabic Language Analyst in the United States Air Force for 10 years, where he served invarious postings throughout the US and overseas. He has also spent several years working as an executive and consultant at a Third-Party Logistics company based in Greensboro, NC. In his free time, he volunteers at the local Ronald McDonald House at Moses Cone Hospital and enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.
Noemi Salinas (Alumni, Summer 2023)
Noemi Salinas received her Bachelor's degree in Medical Anthropology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021. She is currently completing her premedical post-baccalaureate in Biology at UNCG. Noemi has primarily focused on expanding her knowledge and advocacy of maternal and child health as well as addressing health disparities with the goal of working in women’s health and under resourced populations. Along with a focus on medical anthropology, Noemi has enjoyed learning about humanity’s past and the ways societies have been preserved, allowing us to understand their ways of life through artifacts, architecture, and art. Her time at UNC-CH allowed her to explore other fields of anthropology including topics on human origins, Mediterranean archaeology, and prehistoric art.
Darius Thompson is a post-baccalaureate pre-dental student at UNCG. He received his bachelor's degree in biology at UNC-Chapel Hill, and plans to attend dental school after his time at UNCG. "I hope to not only gain a better understanding of Dentistry from studying the archeological remains of humans, but to understand and apply some new archeological discoveries to address the current issues present in today's world." Darius is working on a project to characterize SEM micrographs of dental calculus from Bronze Age Oman.
Laura Winn (Alumni, Spring 2023)
Laura Winn was a Premedical Post Baccalaureate student majoring in Biochemistry with the goal of becoming a Cardiologist. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, and a Masters’ degree in Engineering Management. Prior to coming to UNCG, she served as an Army Engineer for 8 years (Beat Navy!). Laura was conducting an analysis of microstructural characteristics of immature human femurs to understand patterns of variation in bone mass, porosity, and cross-sectional geometry. In her free time, she enjoys snow sports, good books and hiking and camping with her dog, Professor Kaos.
Undergraduate Research in the Robbins Schug lab
Reanna Ballard is a Junior at UNCG with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She plans to go to Medical and PA shool to become either an Orthopedic Surgeon or an Orthopedic Physician's Assistant (PA). Currently she is partaking in a study to characterize the range of normal variation in pediatric bones from France using the Micro CT. She plans to conduct research with Dr. Schug in Italy over the summer on the history of medicine, nutritional insufficiency, pellagra and TB in the Modern period.
Karen Barcenas Alvarez
My name is Karen Barcenas Alvarez, I am a sophomore pre-dental biology student at UNCG. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I plan on attending a dental school to pursue a career in orthodontics.
Tiara P. Campbell (Alumni, Spring 2023)
Tiara P. Campbell graduated from UNCG in May, 2023. She was a Biology major in the Human Biology Concentration with a Studio Arts minor. She worked on traumatic injuries from the site of Dahwa in Oman, contributing her artistic skills to ethically portray traumatic injuries for publication. She also served as the lab's 3D scanning and printing guru, providing ethically sourced materials for teaching osteology and anatomy. Her future plans include attending the Medical Illustration Graduate Program at Augusta University. "I've always had a passion for the medical and science world along with my love for visual arts. This program will sculpt and mold me to be the best BioMedical Illustrator/Animator that I can be." Once graduate school is complete, her goal is to work with Arthrex, a global medical device company that focuses on new surgical devices along with patient education. "I hope to one day use my illustrations and knowledge to help patients better understand their care."
Maisha Coffie-Tsyewu is an undergraduate student majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. She hopes to discover and learn more about the history of human-environmental relations in the past using human skeletons. She is currently working on a project to document growth and development in infants and childrens' long bones.
Eileen Davis (Alumni, Spring 2023)
Eileen Davis graduated from UNCG in Spring, 2023. She was a Biology major, with a concentration in Human Biology and a minor in Anthropology. "I am very excited to graduate in Spring 2023 and continue my educational journey in Biology and Anthropology." Eileen was working on a research project to characterize the range of normal variation in human bone ontogeny using the microCT. These data will serve as a reference for immature human skeletal anatomy between healthy individuals and individuals that dealt with skeletal emaciation.
Annisianna Egerton is a junior at UNCG. She is majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. She plans to go to medical school and to continue doing research. She is currently working on a research project to create a reference for microstructural features in immature human femurs using a microCT. These data will characterize the range of normal variation in human bone ontogeny and serve as a reference for differences between healthy bone versus bone in cases of growth derangement.
Justice Harshaw is a senior majoring in Biology at UNCG. She plans to use her degree to apply to veterinary school. She is currently collecting data using the micro CT to create an ontogenetic reference sample for human femoral microstructure. This data will be used to describe the range of variation and to compare differences between healthy and emaciated bone in children
Jemima Jacques is a Junior at UNCG, majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and French and Francophone Studies. She is pursuing a pre-medical education path. She plans to go to medical school to become an anesthesiologist. She is currently utilizing Micro CT technology to examine a broad spectrum of microstructural attributes present in bone samples from developing children. This research encompasses characterizing the natural
range of pediatric bone variation in a historic French population.The data will help describe differences and distinguish between healthy and weakened bone conditions in children.
Iris Johanna Jonnalagadda
Iris Johanna Jonnalagadda is a Junior at UNCG majoring in Biology. She is on the pre-med track with a concentration in Human Biology. She plans to go to medical school to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. She is working on a project using the microCT to understand microstructural variation during bone growth and development in infants and childrens' bones.
Emma is a senior, majoring in Biology with a minor in Anthropology and Chemistry. She plans to complete a Forensic Anthropology post-baccalaureate program after graduation and to continue on to graduate school to pursue a career in Forensic Anthropology. She will be working on a histological approach to age estimation in human teeth.
Irena Mustafaj is a Biology major and Chemistry minor at UNCG. Currently a Senior, she is planning to graduate in December of 2023. Irena plans on obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Nursing after graduation and to become a Nurse Practitioner, specializing in pediatrics. She is currently using a microCT to create a reference for ontogeny in human femoral microstructure. These data will be used to describe the range of variation and to compare differences between healthy and emaciated bone.
Danny is majoring in biology at UNCG with a concentration in environmental biology. He has plans after graduation to pursue a career in that field. He is working on research about human growth and development. He is using Dragonfly software to analyze Micro CT data from femurs to quantify compact bone structure and geometry, pore distribution and connectivity, and factors influencing bone strength during ontogeny.
Nia Smith is a senior Pre-med Biology major with a minor in Chemistry at UNC-
Greensboro. Following graduation in December 2023, she plans on attending medical school where she will study to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) in Medical Oncology. Nia is currently collecting data using microCT to create an ontogenetic reference sample for human femoral microstructure. The data will then be used to describe the range of variation and compare the differences between healthy and emaciated bone in children.
Jasmine Sprigle is a senior at UNCG, graduating in December with a Major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. After she graduates, she is planning to further her education at dental school. "I plan to one day become an orthodontist or periodontist because of my love for a contagious smile." Jasmine is working on isolated teeth from Bronze Age Oman and Balathal, India. She has learned to identify, record, and analyze dental pathological lesions to learn more about people who lived during a period of climate and environmental change. She taken a lead role in a project to use archaeological literature to develop predictions for the types of micro-artifacts and aspects of the oral microbiome that could remain visible after 4000 years. She has trained to use the SEM, perform image and EDX analyses of dental calculus from both India and Oman. This research has led to interesting insights about diet, occupational behavior, and the oral microbiome. Some of these data will be cross-referenced with aDNA extracted from the calculus. This semester she will lead a team of students, who will be assisting her in her research, which has opened a new fascination for microscopy for her. “I hope to continue furthering my research on teeth beyond graduation to enhance my knowledge and expand my passion for dentistry and science.”
Amya Taylor is a senior biology major and member of the Lloyd International Honors College at UNCG. She plans to further her education with a Master of Business Administration or Master of Healthcare Administration. She aspires to work in healthcare facilities while finding new, effective ways to better the
experience of patients and healthcare providers.
Lelise Weyessa is a Biology major with a Chemistry minor at UNCG. She is currently collecting data using a microCT machine to create an ontogenetic reference sample for human femoral microstructure. These data will be used to describe the range of variation and to compare differences between healthy and emaciated bone in children.
Fatima Zarate is a current Junior at UNCG majoring in Biology. She is planning on attending medical school after her undergrad. She is currently collecting data using the microCT to create ontogenetic samples of human femoral microstructure. These samples will then be used to detect healthy and emaciated bone structures.
UNCG Anthropology Lab Members
Julia Klass (Alumni, Fall 2022)
Volunteer Researcher, AY 2022-2023
Julia Klass graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology in 2020. She was a double major in Anthropology and Biology. She came to UNCG in the Fall of 2022 to do research on traumatic injuries at the Bronze Age site of Dahwa, Oman. Julia studied language in South Korea in Summer 2023 and is entering the Graduate Program at the University of Edinburgh to continue her research in Bioarchaeology.
Molly Calden is a Junior majoring in Anthropology at UNCG. She plans to use her degree and knowledge of Forensic Anthropology to pursue a career in that field. She will be working on a histological approach to age estimation in human teeth.
Tatyana Watson-Glen (Alumni, Spring 2021)
Former Undergraduate Researcher (Spring, 2021)
Tatyana Watson-Glen graduated from UNCG in 2021. She was an Anthropology major and did research on paleopathology in the context of climate and environmental change with Dr. Robbins Schug. Tatyana co-authored a paper with Dr. Robbins Schug in her senior year (Robbins Schug et al., 2023).
Other Lab Members and Facilities
Our Team (Spring, 2023)
Top Row Left to Right : Annisianna, Tyra, Noemi, Cameron, Gwen, Charlotte, Desani, and Maisha
Front Row Left to Right: Eileen, Lelise, Ruby, Irena, Tiara, and Laura (not shown: Jasmine Sprigle)